It has been almost five years since my husband and I had our first baby. We’re starting to forget what it’s like to be just the two of us, childless, doing whatever we want whenever we want it. Since I’m finally at a point where I’m not either pregnant or nursing (yeah, it’s been five years) we decided it was time to have a good old fashioned getaway.
We chose Milwaukee for our trip because it was within driving distance but is still a relatively new town for us. We’ve only been there once or twice which leaves room for a lot of exploring.
We aren’t really into regular hotels with their cookie cutter carpet and fifth grade art hanging on the walls. We decided to stay at The Iron Horse Hotel, an upscale, boutique hotel that caters to both business travelers and motorcycle enthusiasts (the Harley Davidson museum is within sight). While we didn’t fit into either category, it was still a great fit for us.
Everything in the hotel has a bit of an industrial chic vibe. There is a motorcycle on display in the lobby as well as a well-worn American flag. The entryway to our room acted as a sort of mud room, leaving plenty of space to kick off slushy boots without dragging all the muck into our room.
There are big murals on the walls of the rooms as well as some original sculptures. The desk and lounging area were very nice, although we didn’t even end up using those very much. The bed was large and comfortable, although I would have expected a hotel in Milwaukee to offer a heavier blanket. Luckily it was super easy to adjust the temperature in the room so we weren’t cold for long.
One really unique aspect of the room was the bathroom. When looking for a place to stay I actually passed on other hotels based solely on the decor of their bathroom. Weird, I know. The shower in our room featured a large rain head and a frosted glass wall separating it from the rest of the room. Let’s just say you don’t want to stay in this room with your mom.
It’s surprising how little free time we felt like we had in a 48 hour getaway. Most of our time was spent eating and sleeping, but the one fun thing we managed to get out and do was tour Lakefront Brewery. Jeron is much more of a beer drinker than I am, but it was still a fun tour. I only got one picture of the signature cream city brick and it was while waiting for the tour to start. The rest of the time I had my hands in my pockets because they don’t have heat in the warehouse where they make the beer. It was freezing!
I’ve been dying to tell you about where we ate in Milwaukee. I had the first (and definitely not last) fish tacos of my life at Water Street Brewery along with a gin and tonic. Jeron had a very rich shrimp and lobster mac with a flight of their beer selection.
We had brunch on Saturday at Blue’s. We were a little concerned walking in that it would be cramped, but were pleasantly surprised when they walked us to a table in what appeared to be a spacious, secret back room. Blue’s is famous for their stuffed hash browns and let me tell you – that’s some serious business. I had the aged provolone topped with a rich tomato sauce. Pure heaven. I also had pancakes with bananas and candied walnuts (because I needed some protein, duh). Jeron had a boring old egg sandwich with french fries. Still, sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to get right and I think they did a great job.
Our dinner Saturday night was hosted by Smyth, the restaurant located in The Iron Horse. It was beautifully lit with hundreds of candles in mason jars. The first thing we did was order drinks. I tried the Blood and Sand, a combination of bourbon, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth, and fresh squeezed orange juice. It was really well made but not my favorite flavors. Jeron tried the Barrel 1907 Old Fashioned, and that was the real winner (I eventually ordered one for myself as well). The restaurant actually has their own limited-edition barrel of 1907 rye whiskey that they use to make the cocktail.
We ordered calamari which was excellent and came with a well paired lemon aioli. The highlight of the meal was definitely the black kale salad. It was layered with roasted kabocha squash, radish, sarvecchio, toasted pumpkin seeds, and apple cider vinaigrette. The flavors and textures really worked together. One of the best things about it was this: I was still feeling a little full from my hash brown breakfast bomb, pancakes, and calamari, but the salad actually made me hungrier! The healthy veggies made way in my stomach for more food (which was great because the only reason I went on vacation was to eat). Thanks to the salad I had room for the Wisconsin Rainbow Trout which came on top of a savory wild rice galette and was drenched in Meyer lemon brown butter. We finished off the meal with a slice of chocolate hazelnut cake. Again, perfection.
The hotel offers an extensive brunch on Sunday morning where we enjoyed waffles, omelets, eggs benedict, fruit and yogurt, and breakfast potatoes. They also had smoked salmon, fresh vegetables, salads, hand carved meats, and more.
It will definitely not be another five years before Jeron and I take another vacation. It’s just going to be hard to try something new now that we know we like The Iron Horse Hotel so much. Thanks to the hotel and to Smyth for having us!
I received a discounted rate on my room at The Iron Horse Hotel and a complimentary meal at Smyth. However, as usual, all opinions are my own.