I wrote about Cloud Red last August, and enjoyed a lot of their dishes, but not their lack of service. My second trip to this spot was much different and one I enjoyed for many reasons. My friend Corin and I decided to check out this spot in Shorewood, right outside Milwaukee's city limits, mainly because of the open-faced falafel pita that Corin had raved about! When people give recommendations I typically consider them, as I want people to do the same when I dish them out. Also, as a fellow evolving vegan, I trust Corin's opinion on delicious plant-based eats around the city.
When we first set foot in Cloud Red yesterday, I quickly took in the home-like atmosphere that permeated this restaurant. The wooden seats, low lighting and brick plastered against the walls gives such a cozy feel, and families to a group of adults reliving their college glory days (an extremely loud group) were taking in Cloud Red on this Friday evening. That said, I did not care for the televisions that now were inside the restaurant, and it seemed a little out of place, as this place doesn't exactly scream sports bar. I honestly cannot remember if these televisions were there the last time I went, but it was not aesthetically pleasing to me this time around. I did like how this restaurant's environment does not lend itself to any particular age group or demographic, but instead is a place where everyone can enjoy, especially vegetarians and vegans, leading to what we ate.
Cloud Red offers a wide range of vegan eats including a baba ghanoush ($9), an open-faced pita falafel sandwich or as a burger ($12), tempeh tacos ($10) and a new option, their curry cauliflower tempura that is a healthy alternative to traditional orange chicken, with sesame seeds, cabbage, scallions and a tangy sauce that coated this vegetable perfectly. Their prices to portion ratio are above average, and I feel like I get my money's worth when I come to this spot. I recently went to Dan Dan and ate their cauliflower with an orange, tangy sauce, and it was good, but the tempura on this option at Cloud Red was a perfect way to coat this usually softer vegetable. While I came for the falafel dish that Corin talked about, this curried cauliflower stole the show, and Corin thought the same. It came in a silver bowl, almost dog-like, and I think this helped Corin and I scrape every last crumb up to enjoy as if we were dogs ourselves. When someone came to take this bowl, I almost wanted to snatch it back!
We opted for wine on this night, and to my dismay, there was no moscato available. I chose a sauvignon blanc while Corin decided to get a red wine. We also found out that patrons can grab their own water vases and mason jars. While I did complain about the lack of service the last time I came here, I think I preferred not having a host or waitress/waiter and instead, self-service. We ordered our drinks and food all at the bar, and even paid for it at that moment. As such, we did not have to feel rushed as we ate or continued talking a little after our meal was over. This kind of unique payment method is fine when it is not super crowded, but could be a major issue and pain point for those who want instant service once they walk into a restaurant.
Corin's and I main entree (see above) was up next after devouring this extremely fresh and flavorful cauliflower, and I was floored when I saw the size of this falafel optin. The pita bread extended at least seven inches long and 6 inches wide. This dish was slathered in hummus and beets and topped with sunflower sprouts. (note: did not get tzatziki sauce, as it has dairy) This combination of vegetables concocted in various forms including fried (falafel) mixed and stirred (hummus) and natural (sprouts) was filling and fresh. Every bite introduced me to different flavors, and I was glad I chose the pita bread, as it was extremely soft and pillow like. The pita bread is not vegan for those curious but I did not want to get piccolo bread, as I have no clue what that entails. Also, I am an evolving vegan so I decided to eat the bread anyway and was happy with my choice.
Overall, Cloud Red did good on its food, environment and even service this time. Our food came out quick, was still hot and fresh and the whole seat yourself and order at the bar was not that annoying. Maybe I practiced some patience or maybe my perspective on this restaurant changed as I ate with Corin and discussed this restaurant's oddities. Nonetheless, this Shorewood staple has existed since 2016, and it will be a staple in this town for a very long time.