It was a lazy Saturday a couple weeks ago. My plant-based friend Kristin and I were starving and looking for a place to eat in town. I did not have many places in mind, as there are only so many spots that serve truly vegan brunch. It was a little past noon so lunch was on Kristin's mind and lucky for us, she had just been to Blue Bat a week before and raved about it. To be honest, I thought she was exaggerating about the food and her experience, which I told her after discussing the possibility of going to Blue Bat. Don't think I'm gossiping on this blog folks. Hearing and more importantly, seeing, a moroccan cauliflower dish with jasmine rice, tahini cream, golden raisins and much more appear on my phone intrigued me. A lot. I could not guess what this place was when she sent me this photo, but turns out I was in for a real treat from start to finish.
Hospitality Democracy dons well-known restaurants that you may know. Smoke Shack, Holey Moley, Swig, AJ Bombers, to name a few. As you might have figured given the mention, Blue Bat is the newest addition to Hospitality Democracy's already stacked superteam. Come to think of it, this spot is a perfect addition, because tacos and tequila were not really in this restaurant group's arsenal. But now it is. This spot located on 249 N Water St in the Historic Third Ward is here to stay and is primed to make a lot of noise in the restaurant game around Milwaukee.
This spot screams trendy when you walk in, especially with a sign that reads "Good Times." The ceilings were pretty high, and there was a lot of room in this place. Blue Bat also has a downstairs bar with additional seating and a small patio area. Given that this restaurant is next to the Milwaukee River, the location is prime for Third Ward voyeurs and enthusiasts. This spot has extremely clean lines, wooden tables and a very modern aesthetic. There were a lot of windows around this venue, opening it up even more and adding a lot of natural light. I really enjoyed the look of this spot, and hoped I would enjoy the food just as much.
Kristin and I surveyed the menu and the fried brussel sprouts caught my eye as she discussed it. I don't even eat brussel sprouts but I'm usually game for anything fried. It also came with pecans, a spicy aioli and a few other toppings. Per usual, the cheese was eliminated from this dish and was an easy change. These brussel sprouts, more on the salty side, paired PERFECTLY with the aioli. I almost fell out as I ate these veggies. Yes, they were fried but who cares. they were crisp to a perfection and an easy starter dish. We also ordered their bag o' chips with seasonal salsa. You can also get guacamole with the homemade, in-house tortilla chips that legit come in a brown paper bag. I thought it was funny how literal the menu listing was for these chips. This salsa combination (comes in two giants bowls) was also top notch. The chips were hot and fresh, and the salsas were plentiful for two people. This is important because salsa goes fast, and some places like to skimp on this foodie favorite. These two dishes exceeded my expectations that had been somewhat influenced by Kristin's prior review on Blue Bat. I was happy and ready for the cauliflower dish, especially since I make it a ton.
Huge side note: They have over 160 tequila flavors to choose from and can come as a hawaiian ice or another kind popular option. As you all know, I don't drink much but wanted to mention that since their name includes tequila and is somewhat of a calling card for them.
The main menu consists of tacos, bowls and other worldly-inspired eats that are not your typical mexican foods. While there are some staples there, they seem to do a good job of mixing up spices and options. I do like how you can turn a taco option into a burrito bowl for $15. These bowls are legit, as I had o take my food home. That never happens with me even when I eat a lot of other food so this is saying a lot. The moroccan cauliflower dish was highly anticipated and it is easily, easily a top 5 dish that I have ever had in Milwaukee. Not even being dramatic either. It came out piping hot and was fresh in every way. The veggies were visibly pan-roasted versus thrown on a hot oily skillet for two minutes. the attention to detail was phenomenal, as the dollops of tahini cream even worked great, and I am not a huge fan of tahini.
The toasted almonds, raisins, spices, onions, jasmine rice with this cauliflower changed me. There was so much flavor, a lot of ingredients to enjoy and it was just such a different experience unlike I have had before. That dish could have easily been a mexican-inspired cauliflower dish, but it was not in the slightest. The cauliflower was just tender enough where you can bite into it without it being too tough. Perfect. Kristin chose the mushroom bowl that came with rice, peppers, onions and similar fixings as my bowl. She admitted that the cauliflower bowl was better and would get that again next time. All of this food came to $46 total, and this kind of steal should be illegal. I had dinner that night too. I was so full, but not to a point where I felt sick. It was more so, I got my money's worth through the portion sizes which are not small whatsoever, taste was pheneonal and variety of options to try in the run long. Alex, our server, seemed to juggle our table with others as it began to pick up during the busy afternoon lunch shift. He was very attentive, and was well informed about all of the drinks and food options and questions.
I will be back soon with my fan boy hat on looking to chown down on some eats in Blue Bat and Tequilaria. An encore performance is on the horizon, and I hope you get a chance to experience a fresh, fun spot in Milwaukee's Third Ward like I did. Hats off to Blue Bat!