Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mader's German Restaurant: Famous for the Food?!

Last year, my mom told some people from work that she was going to Milwaukee for German Fest and she said that at least 7 people asked her if she was going to Mader's? "It's a famous German restaurant!" So we thought, huh… we should go! On Friday evening, my mom and I headed out to Milwaukee for an event on Saturday at the Mitchell Park Domes, Germany Under Glass, but first, dinner at Mader's Restaurant.

Our Server, Krystal
When we first walked in, the staff was very polite and sat us in a booth by the bar. My first thought was wow! The decor was very Old World German. Not beer garden-y, not old-german man-y, not oma-y but like 16th century German monk style. It was very impressive, but the intense decor didn't take away from the warmth. I felt welcome and comfortable.

I loved that the servers wore dirndls! It looked like they all wore their own and they were all classic and traditional style dirndls. Our server Krystal was great! She was super sweet and I later found out on Saturday that she had asked someone to get some Rare Dirndl information for her because she wants a dirndl!

The 3rd thing I noticed (1st being the decor and 2nd the dirndls) was this table stand advertising their specials… using the font Papyrus… this font needs to die. I loathe this font. Ok, moving on to the good stuff.

The menu was difficult to read because it was full of pictures of all the famous people that have eaten there. While it was cool to see who all has been there, I was really more interested in what I was going to eat.

But first… beer! I order a Weihenstephaner Vitus, a weissbock that is one of my favorites and my mom ordered, (uh… i don't remember, oops!) Anywhoo, they were both served in their 110th anniversary steins, which was kinda cool, but very heavy.

Ruben Rolls
Looking over the menu, there was 1 thing I noticed right off the bat; the entrees were expensive. Not outrageous, but definitely more than I'm used to paying for German classics like schnitzel. We started with the Ruben Rolls, because when I called to make the reservation that's what the recording recommended, and it was a great recommendation. It was essentially a Ruben inside an egg roll served with Dusseldorf mustard and boy were they tasty.

And then there was the complimentary pretzel roll. I will go back for that roll. It was fresh out of the oven, soft yet crispy, not too salty. (I may or may not be drooling on my keyboard just thinking about it.)

The best thing we ate all night!

Unfortunately that's where the salivating stops because the rest of our meal was… meh. I was so put off by the $30+ for all the German favorites that I ordered one of the "Kleinen Platten"(small plates) of Vegetarian Spaetzle, a side of Roasted Brussel Sprouts and the Friday Night Fish Fry Special with potato pancakes and sauerkraut. The Spaeztle was some veggies and Spaetzle in a bland Alfredo sauce, the fish was so thin we could barely find it amongst the breading, the potato pancakes were kinda sweet and fluffy, (like a breakfast pancake) and the sauerkraut was so sour! But, the brussel sprouts were really good and fresh.

For dessert, I had to try one of their after dinner drinks, the "Pink Squirrel: a forgotten Milwaukee favorite" It was ice cream mixed with some alcohol and raspberry something… that was a tasty treat!

Overall, I feel like I jipped myself because I didn't get any of the German food because the prices got me all nervous. I would go back again to try some actual German favorites and for the pretzel roll, but I honestly have no idea why people were so insistent that we go there. Just because Usher, William Shatner, Clark Gabel and Tim McGraw ate there?

What do you think? Did I miss something? I'll be back in Milwaukee again soon, what should I try there that you think is better then the alfredo spaetzle concoction and the heavy duty fish fry?

P.S. The suit of armor in the window was really cool too. Seriously, the decor was fantastic!


  1. Thank you! I agree with you completely. I am a native German and live in Milwaukee. The food at Mader's is overpriced and usually mediocre. If you would like good, normal-priced German food when you are in Milwaukee the next time, I would recommend that you try Kegel's Inn on National Ave. Make a reservation! They sometimes (especially on Friday) get very busy!

    1. Great! I'll try Kegel's next time I'm in Milwaukee :-)

  2. Trust your instincts! I visited Mader's only once, perhaps 25 years ago, but had a very similar experience. I was travelling from Chicago with my mom and her husband, who both have expensive tastes. As I was a struggling 20-something I hesitated at eating at Mader's because of the cost, but my mom and her husband said they'd cover it. I recall I enjoyed the meal, it was good, but not delicious. The presentation, like the environment, was quite lovely. The Viennese coffee we enjoyed after the meal was memorable, both in taste and presentation.

    I haven't lived in Chicago for years now but I remember many meals from other European restaurants, such as Pilsner, Klas, Czech Plaza, and Riverside, much more. They are (or were) all west of Chicago but genuine, delicious, reasonably priced food.

    Do keep sharing your German experiences!

    1. I plan on doing more German restaurant reviews! There are a few others on this blog if you search Restaurant in the search box. One of my favorite German Restaurants in Chicago is Laschet's Inn on Irving Park on the North West Side.

  3. Dido on Kegel's Inn. Von Rothenburg's is great for bier, atmosphere, and heavy appetizers also! Two of my favorites in town....easily.

    1. Great!! Thanks for the suggestions Kevin!

  4. When I was to SF last week, the majority of local San Francisco restaurants I visited were really awesome and their service left me stunned. It was a tremendous experience. Back here in downtown Chicago, you don’t get to have that level of service.