Skylight’s Taste of the Wards Celebrates Four Years

Premiere tasting event still going strong

Sep. 19, 2016
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Now in its fourth year, Skylight Music Theatre’s Taste of the Ward sampling event offered a strong showing last Thursday. Fourteen local restaurants, craft brewers and distillers came together in the Broadway Theatre Center’s elegant second-floor bar area to offer an evening of delicious samples and interesting conversation about Milwaukee’s latest culinary trends and happenings.

Rana Roman and Kurt Cowling provided fantastic live entertainment, proffering a euphonious set of standards from the American songbook. Roman’s vocals are technically masterful and deeply soulful, while Cowlings piano playing was spirited and similarly skillful. It would be a treat to see these two perform again in a more focused venue. 

A standout among the establishments offering food samples was Milwaukee Ale House for Chef Luis Garcia’s fabulous Green Pork Chili. The menu here rotates regularly and the chili selection is usually a steak variety, but this bowl was something to savor even if ephemeral. Full of roasted green peppers, jalapeños and cilantro (which give it its name), it featured a perfect flavor balance of umami from the savory pulled pork and hearty, warming kick from the veggies and spice blend.

Kickapoo Coffee Roasters offered a good showing for tasty cookies with cute names like Blind Date and smooth, strong java. Representative Scott Lucey shared that the nearly 1-year-old establishment across from MIAD’s campus is the first retail outlet for the Viroqua-based company and has so far been met with enthusiasm. He describes the café’s ethos as bright and modern yet intentionally modest (think drinks served in jam jars) and its business practices as an “intentional mix of quality and sustainability.” 

Among the distillers, Great Lakes made an impression for its large selection of liquors and brandies, the latter including a 6-year-old Door County cherry and both 2- and 5-year-old apple with interesting differences in smokiness as age increased. The distillery is also offering its Pumpkin Seasonal Spirit made with a Lakefront Brewery’s Pumpkin Lager. Brand Ambassador Joe Musha made all patrons feel special with generous pours and interesting anecdotes.

Urban Harvest Brewing Company stood out among the breweries present. Also a newcomer to the Milwaukee alcohol scene, they already offer 14 brews on tap, including the tasty Black Puppy Pale Ale, which runs on the lighter side for this variety and includes specialty malts; and the delicious Espresso Amber made with Stone Creek cold brewed coffee, again lighter than the typical stout, but perfectly balanced in its coffee-to-beer ratio. The brewery opened in June in the former Theatre Unchained on South Fifth Street and brewer Steve Pribek said the business is open to renting the 52-seat theater to performance groups in the future.

All in all a comfortable yet upscale event, Skylight’s latest Taste of the Wards was a rousing success. 


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