We definitely appreciate the boom in casual but high-quality farm to table restaurants in the Midwest. We heard nothing but praise for one of these restaurants, Odd Duck (2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI), so we were incredibly excited to try it. Inside Odd Duck is a cool space, with exposed brick and pottery on the walls, buzzing, casual and friendly. The menu at Odd Duck is both locally sourced and globally inspired – a combination of two of our favorite restaurant concepts.
You can find dishes spanning every continent, divided into two halves of small plate dishes: vegetarian and meat. When we visited there were 12 dishes in each half, and our server assured us that the selection changed daily. We decided to go for our server’s suggestion of at least 2 dishes apiece, and we tacked on one to share (though all of the dishes are meant to share….and we did end up sharing all of them). We had a hard time deciding what we wanted, but tried to do a sampling of both the veg and meat options. Along with the list of small plates you can also order individual portions of cheese and charcuterie including both local (Smoking Goose Meatery, Hook’s Cheddar) and global selections (Jamon Iberico).
- Brazilian cheese bread with watercress and Kolrahbi, yogurt with spinach puree.($8) This was the first dish out of the gate. Being purveyors of Pão de Queijo, I think we were expecting too much with this one. This was a chewy, slightly tangy bread roll, but did not taste like a Pão de Queijo at all and the texture was a bit off. However, had we not had actual PDQ from Brazil as a cultural reference, we probably would have liked it much more.
- Vietnamese fried trout topped with an herb salad, over glass noodles with a delicious peanut lime and chili sauce ($10) This was a real standout dish. The fried trout was delicate, and not greasy at all. It also contained one of our favorite food combinations: peanuts and lime, so how can you go too wrong?The sauce was strong and aromatic, without being overpowering, and there was a little kick.
- Charred octopus with black beans and rice cake, oyster mushrooms and scallions ($10) M really liked this one, and even for those among us who are not big fans are octopus, this was a standout dish. The octopus was tender and crispy – not chewy at all.
- Braised beef shortribs stroganoff with potato gnocchi and mustard greens ($12). This was a classic, hearty dish, with fork-tender shortribs. We appreciated the update of the classic Midwest dish, and the gnocchi were light and tender.
- Aloo Gobi curried fired cauliflower with sweet corn yogurt, potato chips and tomato chutney ($8). Despite being fried, the cauliflower were surprisingly light and crispy. This was a good way to end the meal, though it also would have been a perfect “appetizer.”
We really enjoyed the food at Odd Duck. The vibe was good, the menu was interesting and the price is right. We wish there were more of these types of places in Chicago (especially at this price point). We can’t wait to go back to see what is on the menu next time!