Milwaukee recently inhabited a new diner in the Historic Third Ward area, and it is not your typical diner in the slightest. This elegant, upscale eatery called Sweet Diner located on 239 E. Chicago is easy on the eyes, with wide windows, higher-than-usual ceilings and an open floor concept where all seating is virtually in one room (save for the private room in the back that you can still see). This place dons brick walls on one side, and white walls throughout the rest of the venue. There are a lot of glass fixtures and lighting hanging and neat decorations like replica succulent plants sitting atop marble tables. This place feels as if someone bought all of Urban Outfitters most expensive decorations and utilized them throughout the venue, and was surprising even though I had seem some shots of Sweet Diner on Instagram. This place seemed like a place where advertising junkies would come to brainstorm creative ideas and get full during the lunch hour.
After taking in this pristine and modern ambiance, menus can be found sitting on the marble as rectangular paper table mats. While this place does feel a bit more chic, it also feels simple, and that can be said with these menus that are most likely reused even with no laminate or covering on them (as the waitress opted to take them before we ate.) Maybe that's me thinking about eco-friendly practices, but it seems like that could very well be the case. After taking photos and gawking at the environment of Sweet Diner, my food friend Meredith and I finally sat down to check out the menu that was pretty lengthy. There are options like french toast, cinnamon and apple waffles, pancakes sandwiches, oatmeal and soup, the perfect balance between breakfast and lunch. These options all fall under $12 apiece, and most of the other items on their menu aren't too high. There are also a lot of coffee options, tea and juices including freshly squeezed and pressed orange, apple and other fruit juices for $6.
For my vegan-friendly folks, Sweet Diner has about 6 options to choose from if you eliminate eggs or cheese from things including the Veg Head skillet ($10 and was my choice) that came with toast and eggs and comes with potatoes, mushrooms, onions, spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes with shaved cheese blend. I was so caught up with substituting avocado for eggs I forgot to say no cheese, which i removed. There is also a Veg Head sandwich, avocado toast option and a mediterranean skillet. I was pretty satisfied with my option and ESPECIALLY happy because Sweet Diner's portions were very large.
Whenever I do go to a place that is a bit more modern and chic, I sometimes get concerned that the portions will be skimpy. I definitely stood corrected as I got a large skillet with a nice sized pancake on the side. I added a little pepper and asked for ketchup for my skillet to give it a little flavor, but the combination of all of these vegetables and flavors was up to my standards. I will say, I will probably go without the spinach next time, as it was kind of moist from most likely the tomato juice and did not fit with the rest of the ingredients in this bowl. The tomatoes were a pleasant surprise, and broccoli, something I typically eat after lunchtime, provided me with protein and a nice change in texture.
Meredith opted to go with their chilaquiles skillet bowl that came with chorizo, red onion, topped with cheddar cheese, corn relish, pico de gallo, and crispy corn tortilla strips. In addition, Meredith opted to get a gluten free pancake on the side, priced at $2.50, and this would be a good moment to let people know that all of the pancakes and waffles can be made gluten free! (Thanks @gfmilwaukee!) She was thrilled with her meal and experience saying "I loved the combination of flavors and ambiance. I give this place a 10/10." While I agree with the high praise of this diner, I think a few more veggie options for their lunch options would be nice. I opted for a chamomile tea that came in a neat steamer while Meredith went with coffee. For anyone looking to grab food to go, Sweet Diner is also able to serve you in that capacity, as they have drink machines when you first walk in and obviously, a to-go and bar area to grab food.
Although I loved the interior of Sweet Diner, I do think a few items were out of touch, including the large flat screen television that sat nearest the street and toward the front of the restaurant. This spot seems like a place where you can unwind, have a nice breakfast and get away from screens, but this television did just the opposite. I could see if there were multiple televisions situated around this restaurant to signify an emphasis on electronics, but it was just one that seemed like it should have been turned off, or better yet, not there. I also think Sweet Diner should take advantage of the natural lighting they possess and dim or turn off some of the lighting. This spot is not open into the night hours, only until 4PM, so it is not like they will have to worry about it getting too dark for customers. I had to take some photos with my phone because all the lighting was throwing off my sensor in my DSLR.
Other than these minor environment observances that I was not crazy about, this trip to Sweet Diner provided Meredith and I a chance to enjoy unconventional diner-type food in a setting that did not really scream diner. Prices weren't too bad, the service from all their employees who wore denim tops was great, and we even learned about the private room behind us from one of the bus boys! It was a relaxing experience, and luckily the food matched the high-quality environment. After finishing my food, I felt like finding a pillow and going to bed in one of their booths. Now that's a place that is definitely home sweet home. I'll definitely be checking out this spot again to embrace the warmth, modern feel of Milwaukee's newest diner!