Milwaukee, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Mil-wau-kee.
Oh wait, that’s Lolita. I’m getting my love letters confused!
Milwaukee, what I really wanted to say is this. You know I always loved you, but I just couldn’t stay. We had a good thing for awhile, it’s true. Maybe in my restlessness I said a few not-so-nice things about you, but we can chalk that up to growing pains. I was young and searching for something worthwhile, and I didn’t have it all figured out. I had to question our relationship because you were the only thing I knew. I would think you’d understand. We were both late bloomers with a thing or two to learn about how the world works and we kind of stumbled into it together. Plus, you had that whole thing going on with Water Street and all those silly frat boys, not to mention that little fetish for stodgy German food. You really could have done better than that. But, Milwaukee, I suppose you have.
You know what they say about relationships: timing is everything. My path has led me to Minneapolis, where I have a great life and all kinds of friends. It’s not that I don’t think about you. In fact, every time I come home, I wonder what it would be like to live in Bay View or the Third Ward. You take the best of charming historic architecture, like St. Paul, but add a wicked cool art museum designed by a world-renowned architect.
A Whole Foods the size of Texas boasting a food counter of every kind. What was it? Two salad bars, fresh sushi and wok stations, something that looked like a full-service sausage bar, more olives that you can shake a skewer at, a bakery, and an automated wine-tasting device that takes your credit card in return for samples.Even the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle in Manhattan doesn’t compare to this.
As of last week, you also have an underdog, and you know how happy that makes me. Good Harvest is a full-sized natural foods store in the Third Ward walking distance from the river, modern condos, galleries, boutiques, great antique shops, fine restaurants, and casual bars.
Not to mention the Milwaukee Public Market! You wouldn’t believe how I felt when I first heard the news. I almost came running back into your arms. You can hang out on the second floor with coffee and free Wi-Fi.
Or grab some food
and head over to Wine Thief at the heart of the market, whiling away your time watching the people come and go.
And then there is the matter of all those fabulous restaurants. This past weekend, over the holiday, I ensconced myself at the bar at Hinterland, your first gastropub, with my mom. (You remember my mom.) We had fish tacos and two glasses of red wine the size of our heads. The atmosphere was perfectly cosmopolitan and we overhead a conversation between two Chicagoans sitting amicably at the bar. They were in town for the night and choose Hinterland as their destination. They spoke highly of the restaurant and said they could even imagine living in Milwaukee one day.
Score another one for you, my friend. You’re obviously happy, which I suppose is what we both wanted all along. I only wish it was easier for us to see each other. Maybe we can meet for breakfast some day. I promise not to tell anyone.