Episode 48: Talkin’ ‘bout Talko

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Restaurant review by The American Log’s Becca Andersen

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Back in my college days I had a crush on the most popular boy on campus – Roger Stanton.  He was good looking, smart, funny, and as I said, popular.

One day Roger told me his roommate was out of town and he asked me over to his place for dinner that Friday.  Without hesitation I said yes.   I spent the entire week anxiously waiting for Friday to arrive.  I got my hair done Thursday evening and even bought myself a new blouse for the occasion.

When Friday evening finally rolled around and I got to his place, he invited me in, poured me a glass of wine in the kitchen, and proceeded to open the fridge door.

“All righty then, let’s see what we got in here”, is what he said in his best Jim Carrey impersonation.

Inside that fridge was a selection of jars of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, some eggs and a tin of apple juice.  My heart sank and I don’t think I’ve ever been as disappointed since.

That was until last night.

talko

I tell you about Roger Stanton to serve as a metaphor to Vic Shell’s newly opened “Milwaukee Talko” restaurant on Water Street in downtown Milwaukee.

Tear away all the toppings (read:hype) on these “six star, gourmet” tacos (sic:sick) and what you’re actually left with is an everyday, crumbly, old taco shell that you can buy six of, off the shelf from any dollar store.

Just because the toppings are “new and creative” doesn’t mean they are going to be good.  Vic Shell claims to be head chef of the restaurant and I’m beginning to think he too brings whatever is in his fridge in the morning and slops them on a taco for you at dinner.

Chopped egg?  Shredded carrot and mango?  BBQ sauce?  Was Shell Stanton’s roomie?  Hell, who knows?   Maybe that dog Stanton changed his name to Shell and it’s been him all along.  At $26.95 for three tacos and a side of spicy, salty rice I was expecting a lot more.

To his credit, Vic Shell has created an excellent ambiance.  The “Milwaukee Talko” embroidered tablecloths and cloth napkins somehow give an air of elegance, and the tables are far enough apart to make you feel like you really are in a high-end restaurant.

While the house was nowhere near full, I did stop at the overflow bar, “Guadalooped”.  The whole room is adorned with video monitors and looks like the old Milwaukee Talk set back when Shell was co-hosting.  I must admit I was entertained by the headset-wearing hostesses introducing each patron as if they were a guest walking onto a talk(o?) show.

mucho-ado-about-nothing

And let’s face it, his “Mucho Muncho Lounge” is mucho ado about nothing!

To his credit, Vic Shell has hired his old friend and Chat Packer, Les Tremaine, as his house piano player at said lounge.   Tremaine confided to me that he’s never studied piano but he doesn’t think playing will be any harder than learning to operate the 214 button switcher board was back in his TV days.

Regardless, the music wasn’t where the heartburn came from.

Even though we usually review restaurants on a four star rating system, I’ve elected to rate Mr. Shell’s restaurant based on his claim of six star service and quality.

RATING *

 MILWAUKEE TALKO is located at 18957 Water Street in downtown Milwaukee.  Call 414-51-TALKO (82556) for reservations or complaints.  Please report any health issues or concerns to the Greater Milwaukee Board of Health at boardofhealth@cityofmilwaukee

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