August 1, 2008

Cool Restaurant Patios Help Diners Seize the Long Days


If you want to dine out -- out on the patio, that is -- consider these, a mix of established restaurants and two new ones:

Agave Southwestern Grille

18380 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield

(262) 439-8200;

Open seven days for lunch and dinner

A large walled courtyard looking like a hacienda's holds Agave's patio. Nearly at its center is an open structure that houses a bar with seating. To one side is a popular lounge area, with a fireplace and cushioned outdoor sofas and chairs. Nearby is an improbably intimate table for two, in a nook near a tiled-wall fountain. On the other side of the bar is the dining area, with umbrellas over the tables.

On the menu: Southwestern-accented dishes, including tapas, ceviches, pizzas, sliders, salads, sandwiches and entrees such as mesquite chicken with tequila glaze ($15.95).

Andrew's Bar & Restaurant

415 Genesee St., in the Delafield Hotel

(262) 646-1620;

Open seven days; breakfast, Sunday brunch, lunch and dinner

At Andrew's, mature trees surround the elevated veranda, but there's still a view for diners. And for diners' comfort, heaters and fans are installed in the veranda's ceiling; wooden chairs and tables are substantial. It's a casual but polished setting for fine dining.

On the menu: At breakfast, grain and egg dishes; at lunch, salads and sandwiches; at brunch, entrees; and at dinner, small plates and entrees including scallops with pancetta and thyme risotto ($31).

Cafe La Scala at the Italian Conference Center

631 E. Chicago St.

(414) 223-2185;

Closed Sunday; lunch and dinner

If you want to imagine you're soaking up the Italian sunshine, head to Cafe La Scala's large patio. The courtyard is set back from the street, and a large, splashing fountain masks the sounds of the city. Statuary, flowers and other plantings complete the scene.

On the menu: Sandwiches; entrees including eggplant rollettes, filled with ricotta ($14.95); pastas; pizza; and Friday fish fry.

Mia Famiglia

10049 W. Forest Home Ave., Hales Corners

(414) 425-0507;

Closed Monday; dinner only

Behind this Italian restaurant, you'll find two secluded patios. A large one directly out back includes an expansive pergola, plenty of tables and chairs, and pots and urns filled with waves of flowers. Head down a concrete ramp and you'll reach a second, smaller patio. Both have views of the large, verdant property abutting Potter's Forest and of the garden where tomatoes, lettuces and other produce for the restaurant are grown. As night falls, the small lamps strung in the pergola blink on, and so do the fireflies above the lawn.

On the menu: Fresh pastas, such as the mushroom ravioli in brown sage butter ($19 for a full order, $12 half order), fish, meat entrees and pizza.


401 W. Canal St., at the Harley-Davidson Museum

(877) 436-8738;, and click on "museum," then "eat at museum"

Open seven days for lunch and dinner

Everything is brand-spanking new: the orange and black chairs, the metal tables. The patio provides views of the adjacent waterway and the boats and gulls that ply it, along with views of city landmarks such as the 6th St. Viaduct and the Allen-Bradley clock.

On the menu: Road food and Wisconsin products, from sandwiches to salads to entrees, including Lake Superior walleye ($14.95).

Palmer's Steakhouse

122 E. Capitol Drive, Hartland

(262) 369-3939;

Open seven days; dinner only

The intimate deck behind Palmer's overlooks the Bark River. No music necessary here; the soothing sound of the rushing river provides all the background soundtrack you need. Torches line the perimeter of the deck; at night, servers turn on the lights up inside each table's umbrella. The view includes tall trees, lush greenery and a historical building next door.

On the menu: Fine steaks such as the rib-eye ($22) and chops are the specialty, but fish, chicken and ribs also are served.

-- Carol Deptolla

For more of Carol Deptolla's patio recommendations, see

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