Cloud Red is located on 4488 Oakland Avenue in the heart of Shorewood. (right outside of Milwaukee for those unfamiliar) Cloud Red's calling card is their wide array of drinks and specials that are available throughout week and more specifically on Mondays and Tuesdays. Margaritas can be bought at discounted prices on Mondays while rails can be purchased throughout the week.
Cloud Red offers up a small rotating seasonal menu that ranges from shrimp tacos to burgers to even their outstanding baba ghanoush. They even offer games to play including bananagrams. (my girlfriend and I enjoy that game, even if she is up 45-1.) The rustic interior even gives off a relaxing vibe that makes you want to curl up with a blanket and one of their pillows on their bench. What they do not offer is simple logistics in regards to ordering food and drinks, service and overall ability to interact with workers.
When you walk into this venue, you have to seat yourself. This is typically fine, as some places operate in this fashion, but when you finally take a seat you have to then get back up and go to the bar area to order food and drinks. No server is there to greet you, and it is all on you to put in your order. (Figuring out what to eat is hard enough.) This would also not be a huge deal if there was a menu on the table, but there isn't. You can find cuisine on a glass and wooden frame near the middle of the restaurant and a drink menu at the bar itself.
I do not know if Cloud Red management is trying to cut costs, but it is a surefire way to piss people off because of the lack of service. While I can be pretty patient when there is a lack of service available, I know some people who get angry--quick. There were also no updates on when our meals would be ready since we had no waitress or waiter. By the time I was ready to pay bill, which has to also be paid up front, I had taken notice of this restaurant's choice to place their employees in the kitchen and at the bar.
I think not having waiters is a major issue considering this group of people serves as almost brand ambassadors and experts for a restaurant, its offerings and constant interaction with patrons. I wonder if Cloud Red will choose to change this structure as it hears more complaints and is in existence longer, but I did not really enjoy having to walk around people to the bar just to pay my bill. Even a small stand or podium with an easy way to pay for food would have been nice. (as my GF noted)
One more thing speaking of service: you might not have any on your phone when you are trying to post your food to Instagram. I asked for the wi-fi password and can give it to you via Instagram if you'd like. I do not know why there was a lack of service in this venue but it was very noticeable both times I visited. (on T-Mobile's network for anyone who has jokes about Boost Mobile or Cricket) While I had some gripes with how this restaurant operated in terms of its logistics, I did enjoy their food for the most part.
Mara and I decided to get sprite and lemonade mixed. (Got Rose last time I went) There are tons of cocktails and other drinks available at decent prices. We also decided to have the tempeh tacos which come with pecans, sunflower seeds, apples, cilantro cream, queso fresco (for cheese lovers) and arugula. These tacos come with chips and salsa for $5. (one dollar off their typical $6 taco but no chips and salsa come with that option) I assume that the chips and salsa, which is made fresh (no it seriously is) is not refillable for each taco that is ordered, as me and Mara got a response that indicated you only get one chips and salsa.
However, now that I think about it, the second bowl of chips and salsa was actually a part of our meals, as we each ordered a taco! As for the tacos themselves, I enjoyed it my second time, but Mara and I both agreed that the nuts were not necessary and made for a unique taco. I thought the nuttiness was not bad but I also do not remember that being in my taco the first time I ate it. (Maybe I was being greedy.) Overall, this taco still gave me a nice portion size that filled me up and left me satisfied. The cilantro crema also takes this taco to a new level so I would highly suggest getting that as part of this taco.
For dessert, I opted to get a chocolate chip cookie that can be shared with someone else. This cookie was slightly underbaked, which IS PERFECT when thinking about how to perfect baked goods. (at least when talking about a cookie) There was a chocolate chip in every bite and led me to wonder did they just slap a hershey's bar in between two cookies. This treat was sweet, my dish extremely savory and hearty to say the least. While my food was pretty above average, the service, or lack thereof, was below average and has me wishing Cloud Red adopts a normal customer service policy or regimen sooner rather than later.