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From Spring Rolls to Corned Beef

Around the world at Buckley’s

Aug. 7, 2013
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In Downtown Milwaukee, outdoor dining often means tables on the sidewalk precariously close to pedestrians and a curbstone’s distance from passing cars. Buckley’s Restaurant & Bar offers a pleasant alternative. Located on the corner of Cass and Wells, along a pleasant stretch of East Town between Cathedral Square and the lake on the backside of Downtown, Buckley’s is one step removed from urban bustle yet a short walk from East Wisconsin Avenue. A skillful arrangement of potted shrubs screens traffic with a hedge of green.

The outside is great but if anything, the inside is even better. The black and white striped motif of the awnings and table umbrellas continues indoors on the shades of the wall sconces, the swirling patterns of the upholstered benches and the white linen table clothes offset by black linen napkins. The ceiling is high and painted black, the teal green walls are trimmed in white and the terra cotta tile floor leads through archways along the compact but well-laid-out interior. An antique wooden bar, elegantly distressed, occupies most of the southern wall. Nothing looks like it anywhere in town. Buckley’s is cozy but with strong, hard lines, unpretentiously European and timeless rather than trendy.

Owner Mike Buckley is proudly Irish; representing his DNA are Guinness on tap, a good corned beef sandwich ($10) and brisket braised with stout and served on marbled rye with Russian dressing—not the usual Thousand Island—and Gruyere cheese. Another dollar buys a dollop of homemade sauerkraut.

But the menu traverses several continents, starting with America’s contribution, meaty burgers prepared to order ($10-$12). Italy contributes gnocchi ($11), potato dumplings in black truffle butter; Vietnam lends spring rolls ($6) and banh mi ($10), a barbeque pork sandwich dressed up with herbs and spices.

Buckley’s opens for lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. Entrées include Cornish hen ($21) with kale and Greek yogurt sauce (European fusion?); “slow pig” ($26), a Fox Heritage pork chop with a white bean and kumquat salad; and an artisanal pasta-wild boar ragu ($23). Vegetarians have several options, starting with a Wisconsin cheese platter ($16), a beets and goat cheese salad ($9), a vegetable panini ($9) and a delicious entrée, portabella in a puff pastry ($20).

In addition to a full bar and wine list, Buckley’s offers an extensive beer selection, weighted heavily toward Belgian and American craft beer. The place is popular and gets crowded inside and out. Reservations are recommended.


Buckley’s Restaurant & Bar

801 N. Cass St.



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