It’s not a secret that I am a food lover. My blog name is “Say Cheese and Wine”, which isn’t just a pun on my career; there’s a picture of cupcakes in my header. I love food, have always loved food, and will always love food. Fitness and getting healthy hasn’t changed that, thankfully, it just has enabled me to enjoy the things I love without feeling guilty because I know I either worked it off in advance that morning, or will over the next couple of days. So, when I was offered the opportunity to visit Mason Street Grill in Milwaukee for a wine and food pairing, I practically screamed “yes!” Or, maybe I did. Yep, I definitely screamed, because that’s how much I love delicious food. Then I called my mom, who is also a Milwaukee blogger, and invited her along with me.
I had never been to Mason Street Grill, but I’ve walked past it many times while downtown with friends. I am not sure why I haven’t heard more about it, considering how much I love authentic, non-chain restaurants, which is exactly what Mason Street Grill is. It is locally owned and operated, and many of the recipes used in the restaurant are straight from the chef’s family cookbooks. That was one of the first things I learned after I sat down and was brought a delicious bread basket. The cottage cheese bread is one of the chef’s mother’s recipes. I have never heard of cottage cheese bread before, but it was delicious. Speaking of sitting down and recipes and cooking, Mason Street Grill has an open concept kitchen so you can actually see your food being prepared, which also says to me “this place is CLEAN!” Check it out:
Jessica, who took care of us that night, was awesome. She was so knowledgable. When we asked her questions about different types of wine, she never missed a beat explaining, in ways that we could understand, how they are made or what region they came from. Jessica explained to us that there’s a lot of people who believe that food and wine pairing is not limited to the old standard of “white wine with fish” and “red wine with steak”. So, each course that we were given, a non-traditional wine was paired with the entree and I have to say, it all matched beautifully! Our first course, after the bread, was a beautiful cheese plate. My mom and I both started drooling as soon as she sat it down, and sat with huge eyes the whole way through all of the cheese introductions. Along with it we had a lovely light bubbly wine from Charles Smith Wines called Secco Italian Bubbles, 2012. It was so delicious and refreshing, which is nice because champagne-style wine can be hit or miss. The grapes are grown in the Piave Valley of the Veneto region of Italy. The wine was great but the cheese plate was to die for.
Just take a look:
Ok, the iPhone photo doesn’t really do it justice. I’d love to take some shots with the big camera to really show it’s beauty. It could be a new header image! Oh no, I am drooling again. The cheeses, ah, the cheeses. So there was (from top left going clockwise) an aged goat cheese, gouda, manchego (served along side an amazing olive tapenade!), a really creamy bleu with some fruit preserves, brie, and I believe an Italian cheese with micro greens. It was all good, butI couldn’t keep my fork away from the bleu cheese with preserves. I could have eaten a whole plate of it, I think! So yum. Cheese courses are traditionally served either at the beginning of a meal or after. Or, if you’re me, in bed after a bottle of wine. Mason Street Grill, could you deliver to Waukesha?
Next up was an appetizer, which we were told was going to be a crab cake. Oh, my, are they up for the challenge of impressing two east coast girls who grew up on homemade crab cakes and other tasty fresh fish caught right before our eyes? True story, my grandparents just retired last year as deep sea fishermen out of Ocean City Maryland; my grandma even held the title of Top Lady Angler. I spent a lot of time on their boat and on the docks, scooping up my own crabs with nets and letting them go while I waited for Spikes Boat to return from a day of tournament fishing. Maryland was like my second home. When I say I know good crab, I mean it. Mason Street Grill’s crab cake did not disappoint. It was served alongside a sweet corn succotash and the plate was drizzled with a delicious smoked heirloom tomato sauce. Both accompaniments were delicious, but the crab cake could have been served alone, it was that good. The restaurant boasts fresh seafood delivered daily, within hours of being caught. The crab cake itself had more than 75% crab meat. I’m not talking tiny little pieces of crab meat, I am talking jumbo lump crab. YUM!
Paired with it was a delicious Spanish rosè, Artazuri Garnacha 2011. It was around this time that Jessica really started to let her knowledge show. She explained how rosè and other colored wines are made, using the skins in the winemaking process. The rose color of this wine comes from letting the skins only be in contact with the with the juice for a short period, pressed, and then discarded before fermentation begins, rather than leaving them in contact like in the red winemaking process. The rosè was delicious, sweet, but not too sweet, and tasted a little bit like strawberries. It paired really well with the crab cake, and I really enjoyed it.
Our third course came and I’ll admit it wasn’t my favorite dish of the night. However, it’s a very popular item on the menu and the regulars to the restaurant are super fans and can’t get enough of it. It was a chopped salad with a mustard horseradish dressing. I love chopped salads, and everything on this one are things I love – bacon, eggs, red onion, tomatoes, cucumbers, and of course my favorite, those tiny pieces of lettuce. The dressing I think is what needs to grow on me, because now a few days later while I am thinking about it, I want another taste. That’s usually how I am with new food, I don’t particularly care for it the first time I have it and then I find myself craving it days after the fact. It wasn’t bad, but the bite of the dressing just wasn’t what my tongue was searching for at the moment (I think it was looking for ranch dressing!) Along with it was a white wine from Argentina, La Linda Torrontes, 2012. It was good, and it paired nicely with the salad. It was crisp and refreshing with a light floral taste, which helped take the bite off of the horseradish dressing.
Next up…the moment we’ve all been waiting for… THE STEAK. Actually, I had no idea that steak was coming so I think I shrieked when I found out!
Yes yes YES! Steak forks! The steak forks are actually an item from the lounge menu. The forks came with Mason Street Grill’s 3 signature steak sauces; béarnaise (middle), roasted shallot bordelaise (right) and peppercorn (left). The béarnaise was my favorite, followed by the peppercorn, and finally the bordelaise came in third. This one tasted more like a traditional steak sauce (think A1) so I knew right away my husband would like it and decided then and there that we were going to Mason Street Grill for our anniversary. The steak itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I can’t wait to see how they do filet mignon. The steak forks were paired with a pinot noir, Migration, 2011 from California’s Russian River Valley. It was nice and crisp and tasted wonderful going down with the steak.
Finally it was time for dessert, which came as another surprise to me.
This was a freshly made lavender lemon sorbet. The surprise was definitely the lavender. I am not used to having lavender in my food! However, it was delicate and sweet, and the perfect end to our tasting.
Here’s a photo of all of the wines that I mentioned in my post:
So, in conclusion, I fell in love with Mason Street Grill that evening and I’ll definitely be back. My mom really enjoyed it too and has already made plans to go again. If you are looking for a Milwaukee restaurant for the perfect date night, girls’ night, or even just for drinks after work, Mason Street Grill is your place.
Support local businesses; eat local, shop local, buy local.
Disclaimer: Mason Street Grill set up this wonderful food and wine pairing for us, but I was not compensated in any way other than in delicious food. Actually, they can pay me in food any time they want; all opinions stated within this post are genuine and are my own.