alterra: the anti-wisconsin

January 12, 2007 – 6:24 pm

milwaukee’s alterra: trippily good — except for the shift manager!

it doesn’t cast a favorable light on this blog to admit that we hadn’t mapped milwaukee’s establishments of merit in advance. it’s, you know, milwaukee. but the discovery was all the more scintillating when, cruising along lake michigan, we saw the hulking stone pump house — massive and boxy — facing a marina and adjoining posh hillside lake houses that would make any revenue projection grump drool with anticipation. how retail-sensible cafe owners landed a historic site named one of the top redevelopment projects of 2002 sure beats this blog. but we’re guessing mind-altering additives in the nearby water source had something to do with it.

“wait, is that THE alterra? …” but our ignorant driver had no idea. stopped for the usual double-macc, the choice when discernment is in order. then shots. hefty and pudding-like came the mouthfeel. despite the rush of orders, no edgy hint of machine crust or off-beat extraction or anything short of parameter precision. palatial, i say. leathery. and fall-floral.

the third visit produced conversational clues that this wasn’t only the alterra i’d vaguely heard of, it was justin teisl‘s alterra. snap, and we got it. talked with a genial couple of baristi who spoke of bar training standards that are increasing as we speak. asked when justin might be pulling … and a purse-lipped manager materialized from the ether to interrupt her own evangelizing employees with word that, ahem, shift hours are not for public consumption.

because, you know, spying amateurs could plot to cuff and bag him on the way in the side door, demanding a slice of lucrative lakeside profits for the workplace return of such a slinger.

hmph. pics to come — of cardboard menu boards, tree-hewn bar stools and iron-framed balconies.