Gregory León, chef and co-owner of Amilinda, drew his Spanish-Portuguese menu from his travels. He is one the most approachable restaurateurs in the biz. Everything at Amilinda from tiles, exposed Cream City brick walls, paintings or the brightly colored rooster sitting on the chef’s counter (aka bar) has a story he is willing to share. However, this story doesn’t end with the décor, but carries over to a creative and thoughtful menu. Bravo to León for doing fewer menu items, doing them well and changing them daily (menu prices fluctuate based on market prices). León works with local farmers, taking what is in season and creating an abbreviated menu that doesn’t have so many choices it makes your head spin. Almost everything is made in house (Alisa Malavenda)
Orry León, co-owner of the Spanish- and Portuguese-inspired restaurant Amilinda downtown, said half of the wine drinkers at Amilinda love Spanish wines and are thrilled they’re on Amilinda’s menu, while the others are completely unfamiliar with them.
That’s where servers step in to ask, “What do you usually drink?” Then they can suggest a Spanish wine that will appeal to diners.
But what León really likes is when customers try the wine that’s their server’s favorite — which varies from server to server.
“It’s just like when you’re traveling,” he said. “You go to the bartender and ask, ‘What’s good here?’ ”
It’s not the restaurant trying to sell a more expensive bottle, he said, it’s just helping the customer try something new. “We enjoy it; we want you to enjoy it,” he said.
Amilinda carries at least 30 types of Spanish wines, on a list of up to 55 bottles (the rest are Portuguese). Any bottle is available by the glass, thanks to the Coravin.
“Before you buy that $100 bottle of wine, I can give you a taste,” León said.
If you’re like me, you get into a surprising number of silly disagreements with your significant other over where to eat… not because you want to go to different places, but because neither of you wants to make a decision. Now that winter is finally over in MKE, there’s an even larger pool of drink and dining options to waffle on, so we’re here to help you make those harder-than-they-should-be choices. Here are the best restaurants in MKE right now, including the best patios, barbecue, and beer gardens for summer fun.
2015 was a bit of a strange year in the world of restaurants. We’ve seen pop-ups and food trucks go brick and mortar to great success. We’ve seen old bus stations and garages recreated as dining destinations. And we’ve seen the more casual siblings of highly acclaimed restaurants potentially shine more than their brothers.
I want to say this is a transitional year, but I’m not sure what that transition is to. Fancy, luxe restaurants (even recreations of ones from the ’80s) seem just as en vogue as pop-ups out of the backs of gas stations. The upscale comfort food trend of a few years ago has shifted, so it’s less about upscale takes on lowbrow food and more about lowbrow takes on upscale food. Or maybe it isn’t! IT’S SO HARD TO TELL RIGHT NOW. But what we’ve seen more than anything is that the best restaurants — no matter what the theme, scale, or size — seem to be focused. Focused on doing simple things in a great way. Focused on a particular type of food no one else is thinking about. Focused on small menus where no item can or should be ignored. It’d be easy to say people are doing more with less, but that’s not quite right. Maybe they’re just realizing you can use less to do more?
Anyway, as with every year, Liz and I pick these restaurants in consultation with our editors all over the country. If we didn’t dine there, someone we trust very, very much did. And now we want you to go too.