Anyone from Milwaukee will tell you that the Third Ward is one of the hottest spots in the city. It’s hard to keep track of all the quaint shops, condos, cafes, boutiques and restaurants that line the narrow streets and occupy old warehouses. On this late-Saturday morning, after last night’s rowdy Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, it was uncharacteristically quiet here.

Hungry and eager for a new place to try out, I came across Bavette la Boucherie, located on East Menomonee Street. It’s part old-school meat market and part trendy restaurant that prides itself on local products from our Dairy State farms. Walk inside and you quickly get an idea of what to expect. It’s a (grass-fed) meat-lover’s paradise.

Wisconsin cheese

The resident butcher is a septuagenarian, we were told, and began his work slicing up cuts of meat when he was fifteen. Today, there he was at his station behind the counter, slowly shuffling around a large work table, upon which was an entire pig. With decades of experience under his belt, he carved into it with the skill of an artisan. Our waitress told us that Bavette has been around for about four years and is very popular with Third Ward denizens who live in its elaborate network of swanky condos. It’s the most convenient place for them to get quality, grass-fed meat. 

The ambience is welcoming, mostly modern with some rustic accents. The vintage subway tile behind the counter evokes the classic look of a corner street meat market in the ’50s.

Bavette’s menu is impressive, and its prices reasonable. For lunch, I went with a seared lamb sandwich with feta, harissa aioli, chick peas and olive-almond relish. Served with a side of couscous, it was spectacular. The meat was incredibly tender and flavorful. All the textures and ingredients were perfectly complimentary. No flavor overpowered another. There wasn’t anything on the plate that didn’t fit in.

Roasted squash and apple salad with bacon vinaigrette and cupola cheese

Sure enough, as we wrapped up our early lunch, the locals began to trickle in.

With much more on the menu to try, I look forward to Round Two at Bavette. Make it your next stop for an afternoon or night out on the town.

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