Sign Photo From OnMilwaukee.com
I have heard about this place for about a year now and wasn't sure I was ever going to have the chance to go there. I wasn't sure of the prices and if I could find a dinner buddy. Well luckily, with the help of Parkside23's Facebook page, I was informed they had quite a selection of Oktoberfest beers on tap and do beer flights all day, every day they are open. This I knew would gain me a dinner buddy and my first experience led to a second experience shortly there after. Read about both below.
Parkside23 is located at the corner of North Ave & Pilgrim Rd in Brookfield. This used to be the location of Sticks & Stones and the Pilgrim Square shopping center, but it sat vacant for many years after Sticks closed. What makes this restaurant unlike anything else in the area is the fact that they have a 10,000 sq. ft. farm located behind the restaurant and grow many of their own vegetables for the dishes. What they can't grow, they pursue local farmers and shops to help keep things in the area and help out the community.
Patio Photo from Parkside23's Facebook Page
Two weeks ago I asked my friends Tiffany and Brandon to join me for a beer flight after work and maybe stay for dinner (which of course turned into "yes staying for dinner" after reading the menu online). We took advantage of the last day of warm weather this summer and sat out on the beautiful patio. The patio is very large and most likely doubles the amount of business the restaurant can do on beautiful weather days. Although there are a lot of tables (patio wraps around the side as well in the picture above), I didn't feel like I was overhearing anyone else's conversations and could enjoy my meal with my friends. There even was a book club at the table behind us, but it was still a great dinner and their occasional laughter didn't bother us much.
We started of course with deciding on the beer flights - we all chose Oktobesfest flights which came with: Flying Dog Dogtoberfest, Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Milwaukee Brewing Oktoberfest and Lakefront Oktoberfest (if my memory serves). I am a New Glarus Staghorn "groupie" and switched out the Dogtoberfest for the Staghorn because I'm not a fan of huge hopes and that was no problem to do. The flights come served on a paddle in 6 oz. mini beer glasses. Our server wrote down the order for us so we didn't have to try and remember which beer was which.
Beer Paddle Photo By Me
It was unanimous in our group that Great Lakes has a spectacular Oktoberfest this year. I highly recommend it to everyone that wants to try one this year! Staghorn was good but definitely had a hint of sweet to it, like brown sugar, that I don't remember from years' past. It was my second favorite.
Andy's Eastside Shells Photo by Me
Onto the food. The menu is arranged by price but that didn't mean that lower priced items were smaller dishes. I decided on the Andy's Eastside Shells. Although the server told me this was a petite portion, when it was placed in front of me, I would not call this petite at all. Three pasta shells were overstuffed with Italian sausage, fennel, pine nuts and spinach. Mozzarella cheese was then melted over the top and the shells were placed in a shallow bowl with roasted tomato sauce surrounding them. Flatbread was served on the side that I used to scoop up every bit of the sauce. My mom makes stuffed shells and as a child it was a dish I always asked for. However, my moms were just ricotta and spinach. I never thought of having meat and pine nuts in it. The Italian sausage had a kick to it but it didn't over power any of the other flavors in the dish and they complimented each other well.
My friend Tiffany completely indulged in the fresh cuisine and started with the caprese salad special that night - three slices of the most ripely red tomato I have seen were topped with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella was placed in the middle with a balsamic reduction drizzle over the top. She loved it. Then she chose the braised short rib tacos that were served with avocado and rice on the side. Again she thought it was amazing. She even ordered the peach cobbler for dessert and split it with Brandon. (The homemade vanilla bean ice cream he couldn't resist.) Brandon order the BBQ pork flatbread that was cut like a pizza into triangles. Before I knew it, he only had one piece left and wanted to slow down to savor the amazing flavor of that last piece.
Braised Short Rib Tacos Photo by Me
BBQ Flatbread Photo by Me
Peach Cobbler Photo by Me
We were all members of the clean plate and cup club that night and overall, for what we ate and drank, it really wasn't badly priced and it was a great meal. Our server was absolutely outstanding and made sure we had the best experience possible.
Photo from Parkside23's Facebook Page
My second experience at Parkside23 was taking my mom there on her birthday. (Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of my dinner this time.) We have started a tradition of treating ourselves to a nice dinner for our birthdays. In the past, we have gone to Water Buffalo in Milwaukee, Generations at 5 Points for tapas and a few others that escape me right now. After my first experience at PS23, I emailed my mom the next day and told her where we were going for her bday if she was game (and she always is).
Photo from zvents.com
This time we sat inside in the main dining room (1. it is now fall and chilly out and 2. it was downpouring). We were seated a table the would sit 4 tightly but was perfect for us. In the pic above we would be the empty table to the left of the empty booth. The decor is very warm and inviting with cloth embroidered pictures of vegetables on the walls and stick/branch artwork dividing the dining room from the bar. Everything looks very natural and has a food theme but as you can see, not tacky.
We decided this time to get some wine and make the heavy decision of what one thing for each of us to get on the menu. My mom chose the stuffed pepper that was a red pepper stuffed with fresh veggies and a Parmesan-couscous on the side. On her first bite, she looked at me and smiled and said she was in heaven. She had been craving stuffed peppers for a while but just hasn't had time to make them at home with her busy schedule.
I chose the braised short rib that came with glazed carrots and russet parsnip mash. It came served with a knife but upon sticking my fork into the rib, the meat was so tender it fell right apart. I always attempt to make my roasts or beef stew with meat this tender, but apparently that chef has tons on me (as he should). Major props to him for that piece of meat. The carrots, although called glazed were just lightly sweet but perfectly cooked which I appreciated. I didn't want it to taste like that marshmallow weird casserole served around Thanksgiving. The russet parsnip mash was a bit too mashed for me and very smooth. I like my potatoes lumpy but the flavor made me forget that factor and I cleaned my plate.
Because it was my mom's birthday we had to split a dessert, which I forgot to mention earlier, they call "Rewards" (love that). The cobbler of the day was Blueberry served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. We chose to split that and it came served warm in a ramekin and the ice cream was already melting into the cobbler making it a delicious "reward". The blueberries were really tiny compared to what I usually use, so maybe they are a different type but it didn't affect the flavor and I think they were even juicier. The topping was like an oatmeal-cinnamon-sugar-granola. You could see all the different oats in the topping. It was delicious and we finished the entire thing with blue tongues for proof!
I can't wait to come visit again and maybe just split something with a friend and enjoy 1 or 2 of their 20 beers on taps. Until then, Happy Eating friends.