Ginger - Expect the Unexpected

On a bright, sunny Sunday morning this summer, I was looking for a unique brunch location. In talking with some friends, we decided to check out Ginger. This restaurant is known for their tappas, but their brunch is another thing I hope they become known for.

Located on South Second Street, just to the west of the Third Ward, Ginger sits on the corner of a historic Cream City brick building. Once you walk through the door though, you can see how the space has been opened up to join the adjacent building to the dining space. The open kitchen lets you greet the chefs as they are preparing your food. The dark booths and interesting mosaic lights all give Ginger the spice it needs.

On this outing, Andrew and I were joined by our friends, David and Jason. The four of us walked in and were greeted by a pleasant bartender that told us to check out the place and find a table where ever in the restaurant. We walked around and looked throughout. While walking past the open kitchen, the chefs looked up and greeted us as we walked past. One waitress told us to check out the patio in the back, and sure enough, hidden behind all the historic buildings, this area of green emerges as a great "secret" patio. However, we chose to stay inside and found a table near the front corner with large windows.

Our server, Sarah, greeted us with a smile, and presented us with menus. I was stunned to see some of the drink offerings, and quickly ordered my drink, the Rise and Shine ($6.50) and coffee ($2). Andrew ordered a bloody mary ($6.50) and David and Jason both ordered just orange juice. My Rise and Shine is a combination of Emergen-C, vodka, orange juice, pineapple juice and seltzer. This twist on the mimosa was great. It had everything one would want in there to help get over the night before. Andrew's bloody mary was delicious he said. It was not overly spicy, but has a great blend of all the flavors. Garnished with a beef stick, shrimp, mini corn cob, olive and mushroom, he said this was one of the best bloodies he has had in a while. David and Jason also commented that their juice was excellent. Not too sour or sweet, but rather tasted like it was freshly squeezed.

After we has tried each other's drinks, it was time to get down to business and figure out our entrees. Andrew order the special of the day, the White Bean Fritter ($9). The white beans were mixed with pancetta and leeks to create two patties. Topped with two eggs, creme fraiche, and pico de gallo, this dish was brilliant. The earthiness of the beans, pancetta and leeks were contrasted by the creme fraiche. The pico was a great breath of freshness to the plate as well. This was an amazing special, and I hope they move it to their regular menu soon.

Jason ordered the Eggs Benedict ($10). Before you skip over this dish, it was no ordinary benedict plate. Substituting for the English muffin was rosemary ciabatta bread. Instead of the normal ham, there was pancetta and asparagus. The two perfectly poached eggs were topped with a tarragon Hollandaise sauce. Structurally it was a benedict, but the intense flavors were so unusually good, this breakfast entree could have been severed on a dinner menu. Served with a side of mashed sweet potatoes and some fresh fruit, this is definitely an dish you do not want to pass up when you visit.

David chose to try the Omlette ($7.50). This spinach, mushroom and goat cheese omlette was divine. Fluffy and light, the eggs hid the wealth of flavors on the plate, but not in your mouth. I am sucker for anything with goat cheese in it. I love the unique flavor, as well as the creaminess of the cheese. The spinach was nice and wilted where you were able to get flavor of the greens without the raw texture. On the side, David chose the hash browns. These potatoes were browned with onions and seasoned nicely. The proportion was excellent for the price, since we had to take some of it home.

I had looked over the menu before we left the house, and I knew what I wanted just from the title, Steak Awesomeness ($12). This tenderloin filet sat in the middle of the plate with the "awesomeness" all around it. Laying on a bed of the same type of hash browns of David's dish, the stake was topped with an egg that was poached in red wine. Red wine! The flavor alone in that made this entree to-die-for. Atop that, though is spooned some Hollandaise sauce. Finally finished off with a haystack of onion strings. Served with two slices of homemade white bread, this entree still makes my mouth water. The combination of flavors was very unique and quite unexpected. The only way you can see how awesome this plate is, you have make a trip to Ginger and try it.

Whether it's for the friendly service or unique food options, I would highly recommend Ginger to anyone looking for an excellent brunch experience. For a total of about $19 per person, this restaurant is well worth the price. If this service with a smile and unique flavors are how brunch is at Ginger, you can expect to see me back to try out their tappas at night. One note: parking can be a downside, since the city is completely rebuilding South 2nd, but don't let that stop you from getting there on a Sunday morning!

Until next time, hope you have a great weekend and happy brunching!

UPDATE: Ginger has officially closed for brunch. Instead they are focusing on brunch at Stonefly Brewery, their sister restaurant. Read my review of Stonefly Brewery.

What have been your experiences at Ginger? What are some other good entrees? Respond below in the comments!

All the details you want to know: (on a five star rating)

Ginger (*****)
235 South 2nd Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204

(414) 220-9420
Ginger on Urbanspoon

Brunch hours:
Sunday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Atmosphere: ***** (awesome)
Cream City brick, unique floor plan and open kitchen

Food: ***** (awesome)
Awesome flavors and entrees

Service: ***** (awesome)
Impeccable, attentive, friendly and knowledgable

Drinks: ***** (awesome)
Rise and Shine - ***** (awesome)
Bloody Mary - ***** (awesome)

Price: ***** (awesome)
Less than $20 a person with a minimal leftovers.
Willing to go?