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North Star American Bistro: Shorewood’s Upscale Eatery

Longtime favorite moves across the street

Nov. 24, 2010
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Shorewood’s North Star American Bistro first opened under the name St. Bessie’s—a restaurant that featured a statue of a large golden bovine for its namesake. Six years ago the statue was removed and the name was changed. In more recent years North Star added a Brookfield location. And, just recently, the original bistro was relocated across the street.

The new building remains under construction. The first thing to notice when you enter is the bar, which is much larger than its counterpart at the original location. The bar area features high-top tables, high ceilings and large windows. The main dining room is also very inviting, with hardwood tables and warm, earthy tones.

A welcome addition at the new location is lunch Wednesday through Friday. The menu has seen subtle changes over the years. One of the better items early on was the steak salad with mustard vinaigrette and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese. In its place is a bistro steak salad ($12.95) that has a small piece of flat iron steak with assorted fresh greens, cucumbers, red bell peppers and miniature tomatoes. It is topped with a small stack of onion strings and comes with buttermilk ranch dressing. This is still a good salad, but the former version was better. The crab cake appetizer ($10.25) remains unchanged—and that’s a good thing. The two cakes contain a nice amount of meat and are just spicy enough. They are served over a refreshing combination of mixed fresh greens and horseradish vinaigrette. Perhaps the cakes should not be drenched in tarragon aioli, but the flavors are so on target—perfect for crab cakes. The cakes are also featured in a more substantial, entrée-sized salad ($13.95-$15.75).

The majority of the entrees will be found on the dinner menu. The diverse selection includes short ribs, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, duck confit and bourbon salmon, among other temptations. Pass on the chicken marsala ($17.95), which is an indifferent preparation with a sauce that is too sweet, but say yes to the flat iron steak ($20.95). This is a larger cut than is found in the salad and it comes with a fine sauce of wild mushrooms.

Absolutely try the seafood risotto ($13.95-$20.95), which highlights the kitchen at its best. It features grilled sea scallops and shrimp over sautéed spinach and a bed of short-grained rice laced with crab meat and pumpkin. Sage brown butter completes the composition. Crab and pumpkin may seem like odd bedfellows, but the result is a delightful risotto with the flavors of autumn. The small serving should be ordered with an appetizer or a house salad ($3.95-$5.95). Marinated red onions make the salad special.

The duck pizza ($10.95), another new item, gets mixed reviews. The ingredients include brie, sage cream, dried cranberries and spinach. But the pulled duck meat dries out in the cooking process and the crust is dull.

The Shorewood location offers a Sunday brunch as well (the Brookfield bistro serves brunch both Saturday and Sunday).

In spite of a few missteps, North Star American Bistro is definitely worth a visit. The new location offers sophistication and comfort—the most upscale eatery in Shorewood. Sit back and relax.

North Star American Bistro

4518 N. Oakland Ave.

(414) 964-4663


Credit Cards: All Major

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