The Bartolottas have been a Milwaukee standard in restaurant ownership for as far back as anyone can remember. Heck, Anthony Bourdain had them on his show. So this week we checked out the newest Bartolotta restaurant, Rumpus Room.
What do you expect when you go to a Bartolotta's restaurant? You probably expect the absolute best quality food, the best drinks around and the absolute best service possible, right? Bartolotta restaurants are where you take people from out of town, where you take your client when you want to show them how much they mean to you, where you take your lady friend for a very special night out. You are going to spend a fair amount of money but you will be more then satisfied and you will have something to talk about on Monday morning.
Rumpus Room is a take on an old english gastro pub. The beer list is impressive and the wine list has some great finds. The room itself is fancy but it still has a rustic charm. The wait staff is slightly dressed down in flannel shirts and jeans and the silverware is wrapped in a kitchen rag and not a linen. The rag was the only thing that looked odd to me. It seemed out of place with the high level of detail that went into everything else. The detailed pattern on the menu holders match the ornate decorations on the ceiling, but your silverware is wrapped in a rag. Just seems odd. I'm not trying to be a dick about it. It’s just the one thing that stuck out in my mind about the table setup. I mean someone had to put thought into it. Someone took a look at everything, from the nice wooden tables, to the dark wooden paneled ceilings, the crown molding, the dim lighting, the awesome menu holders, and then this person made the call that the silverware shall be wrapped in a kitchen rag. You’re not fooling anyone, we know this is a nice restaurant, no one really thinks they are in an old timey english pub. So what is the idea behind the rag? I'm sorry, it's just; this is a Bartolotta's right?
Before we move on to the food, let me just explain something. I'm going to be a little harder on this restaurant then I normally am. Rumpus Room you are part of the Bartolotta restaurant group and that means people will come in expecting excellence. They will expect to find the very best food. I did. Here is an honest review.
We started off with a cheese plate. Put cheese on a plate with a little honey and some toasted bread and you have a cheese plate. And that's exactly what you get here. It was ok but the bread was a little soft, and the cheese just looked like it was cut off a brick from Sendicks. If you think I'm being too hard on them, here's what we got at Balzac a few weeks ago.
All I'm trying to convey with this comparison is that Rumpus Room could have done more with this appetizer. The prices aren't exactly the same but they are close and how much does cutting up a strawberry really cost? We were satisfied with what we got, but there was no "Wow" factor.
Next we had some oysters, 3 half shells for $7.50, not a bad price. These were awesome. They were loose in the shell, clean and grit free. They were so good that we had three orders and still thought about getting more. Well done.
This is the Pub Steak, it hits your wallet for a reasonable price of 18 bucks. For a moderately priced entree it does the job. The carrots are full of flavor and the savory bread pudding is awesome. I thought the steak or the red eye sauce was a touch too salty but that is just a personal thing. I would order this again.
MMM the bone-in rib eye for 32 dollars for the win. It seems this could be the reason the cheese plate was so sparse. They save the cheese to pile it on top of this steak. A great cut of beef with the bone in, you can't mess this up. It was great.
It’s almost lent so we had a fish fry. I wish I had a better picture of the fries. They have those mushy accordion shaped ones that you can buy by the ton at Sam's Club. Normally, I think of fries as a minor part of a meal but with the fish fry the fries are half the meal. The fish was nice, white, and flakey. All and all it’s ok but I'd never say "Man you have to get the fish fry at Rumpus Room!"
This sandwich kind of sucked. I brought it home for my dog. She loved it. She also eats cat poop so take her opinion with a grain of salt. The sandwich was super greasy and the menu didn't say it came with an aioli on it, but there was some sort of mayo based sauce on this thing. If you’re going to have a veggie sandwich on your menu you have to think that the people that are going to order it are trying to be healthy. Don't soak everything in butter and oil, just grill up some fresh veggies and put them on some fresh bread.
Rumpus Room, all and all was ok. By normal standards it's a solid B+ or A- but by Bartolotta standards I'd expect a little more from the food. The service staff was great and we had a super attentive waiter that was warm and went above and beyond to make sure we were taken care of. If you get Mathew you can rest assure you are in very good hands. In fact you should request his section if possible.
1030 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
1030 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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