Tess: Have a Great Summer Evening in the Neighborhood

By Cynthia Sommer (May 2012)

As the weather warms, it is a treat to be able to walk to and eat in a great outdoor patio in a rated restaurant in the neighborhood.  Tess restaurant (2499 N. Bartlett Avenue) might be off the beaten path for some in Milwaukee but it is just next door for neighbors in Murray Hill.

Almost 10 years ago, Mitchell Wakefield developed Tess into a relaxed fine dining establishment in a city neighborhood but with an outdoor feel. He was familiar with the area since he grew up in Shorewood and now lives blocks away on the Eastside. Neighbors appreciate the positive changes to the place from the previous local bar. Because of his commitment to fresh local ingredients at his restaurant, Mitch has also served as the fresh produce drop-off site for neighbors buying from regional farmers.

Tess establishes a warm, inviting atmosphere through its   “cozy rooms in the winter and … a wonderful summer patio”. [Zagat].  In the summer, the patio with its canopy of trees is a pleasant surprise that presents a quiet, relaxed environment in the midst of the city.  The atmosphere complements the food, which is a draw – Tess was rated by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel food critic in the top 30 restaurants in Milwaukee in 2010 and the restaurant is a critic’s choice in the Milwaukee Magazine.

Their cuisine is reflective of contemporary world cultures (Italian, Asian, SW American, and Pacific Rim) and changes regularly based on the availability of fresh ingredients.  Patrons can choose from an array of appetizers (crab cakes, sweet & smoky flatbread), salads (strawberry rocket salad), fresh seafood (San Francisco Cioppino with salmon, scallops, mussels and shrimp), meats, (pan seared beef tenderloin or gorgonzola walnut chicken) or homemade pasta. Their selection of desserts can range from crème brulee with changing flavors each week to their molten flourless chocolate cake.  Customers that require gluten-free meals are delighted by the array of choices available in each course.   Their Homemade Fish Fry of New England Clam Chowder and LakePerch or Tilapia is a favorite of patrons on Friday nights. The friendly staff is attentive but not hovering so that you can enjoy your meal.

A full bar with a wide selection of local microbrews and an extensive wine list is also available.  Tess regularly offers fun and relaxing specialty dinners that match a five course dinner with artisan brews.  Local and regional brewers share their fresh, light to heavier, brews with complementary courses of food designed for the evening.

The facility is wheelchair accessible and its hours of service are Tues.–Thurs. & Sun, 5-10 pm; Frid – Sat, 5-11 pm. Reservations are recommended especially on the weekends.  Prices range from $15-29.  Discover this local treasure yourself and take some friends.