Earlier this summer, I got to revisit some friends and former foodie favorites in my most recent “home” of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When returning to an old habitat, it always amazes me how much a city can change within a matter of months (note: I moved in January). I experience this same feeling each time I go back to Atlanta and Nashville, which makes for a never ending to-do list of eateries and places to check out. And while the weather was familiar and oh-so Wisconsin (aka cold), it was nice to see some new restaurants staking their claim in Brew City.
I made it to town just in time for the grand opening of the new Korean fusion restaurant, Char’d, in the Historic Third Ward. Taking the place of the Hinterland brewery, the modern gold trimmings combined with a bar concept that is seemingly LA complemented the loft space nicely. The living walls of greenery gave a pop of color against the classic cream city brick and the black letter board provided a youthful twist to the bar.
We opted to eat here for lunch because they were doing a grand opening half off smoothies special during lunch – and you know I’m a sucker for a good smoothie. After taking a look at the drink menu (both non-alcoholic & alcoholic), we settled on frosé because why not, it was Friday and vacation was starting in t-minus two hours. #sorrysmoothie
For appetizers, we went straight in for the bao buns; however, instead of the traditional pork filly, they were stuffed with marinated, thinly sliced portabella mushrooms. The pickled vegetables, seaweed salad and sunflower seeds gave the sliders a nice crunch and fresh bite to balance the meatiness of the mushroom.
For our entreés, we split the dumpling salad and bulgogi bowl. Char’d offers an array of noodle dishes, including ramen, but if I have learned anything during my two years in Milwaukee it is that it’s very, very hard to top the ramen at Red Light Ramen. But the dumpling salad here at Char’d quickly jumped rank to #1 on my favorite salad list pretty quickly. The lightly dressed greens in a chili soy vinaigrette with the shredded beets, seaweed salad, red onions and scallions were like music to my mouth. The fried pork dumplings were also a highlight, and it was almost as if you got a 2-for-1 meal special.
Bulgogi is a traditional marinated style of beef that is barbecued Korean style over a griddle. The marinade is often sweet and savory with a little bit of heat packed in. If you ever have a chance to go to a true Korean BBQ establishment, it is a lot of fun to do so with a large group cooking the meat over a hot griddle. The bulgogi at Char’d was served over a bed of rice and greens, and topped with a soft-boiled egg.
Char’d is a charming new spot in the Third Ward with a vibrant menu offering. In a city known for its cheese, beer and brats, it is a wonderful change of pace to see other ethnic cuisines entering the restaurant landscape. I highly recommend you go give it a try!
222 E Erie Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202