The Taste of Spain and Portugal
Leisurely dining, fine Iberian dishes at Amilinda
Amilinda Restaurant provides a welcome addition to Milwaukee’s Downtown menagerie of international restaurants with its focus on Spanish and Portuguese food and cocktails and emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes weekly subject to which vegetables are in season.
The space seems a bit small at first, but it’s really narrow and expansive, with an impressive granite bar stretching out for a good half of the restaurant. An open-ish kitchen allows for all kinds of wonderful scents to waft by the tables.
Promptly upon being seated, I was offered a ricotta cheese and ramp spread accompanied by Rocket Baby sourdough, which in its softness and sourness is an excellent complement to the savory spread.
A dining experience at Amilinda is well paced, and I’d recommend adjusting your expectations a bit to enjoy a luxurious meal. Order a cocktail while you wait for your appetizer—the Spanish G&T ($11) is a gin and tonic with a splash of sweet vermouth to round out the mouthfeel and give it some, well, sweetness. The Spanish Shipwreck ($10) sparkling cocktail—a mixture of rum, cava and bitters—is bright and fun. Their red wine list naturally skews towards tempranillo and garnacha, with several solid by-the-glass options.
The cream of carrot soup was a great appetizer choice. Served with a flat and crunchy loaf of bread that is perfect for dunking, the soup is savory and thick without being filling: a perfect appetizer.
For entrées, Amilinda features a rotating vegetable dish based on what’s available at the market that week. During our visit, they were offering three mashed potato balls served on a bed of arugula and sautéed mushrooms with a light aioli. Again—this is a running compliment for this restaurant—those flavors all worked together in concert to create a hearty, satisfying entrée.
For non-vegetarians, I can’t recommend the carcamusa ($22) highly enough: It comes attractively served in a clay pot, and features braised pork shoulder, a chorizo log, fingerling potatoes and arugula in a slightly spicy broth. The shoulder is soft and tender, as one would expect, and the Spanish chorizo log is salty and reminiscent texturally of a more interesting hot dog. The carcamusa is a fine choice for both diners who might not want to stray too far from a traditional American comfort zone and those who have adventurous bonafides, as it’s plenty complex and enjoyable in its own right. And the arugula is a great touch—it hangs out beneath the meat and potatoes like a delicious secret. Once I found one leaf, I spent some time hunting down the rest.
Amilinda Restaurant does a fine job brining authentic Spanish and Portuguese food and drinks to Downtown Milwaukee, and is well worth a visit.
315 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Handicapped access: Yes