Jeffrey Merlot
Mr. and Mrs. M

Dinner, Diner, Let’s Grab Lunch

By - Sep 4th, 2009 02:55 pm
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A no-frills lunch to be had downtown at the Midwest Diner

A no-frills lunch is to be had downtown at Midwest Diner.

In any city, town or village, there are bars and restaurants that you pass by a hundred times without a second glance. In the case of local corner taps, they may often be populated by a small cadre of regulars, and a stranger in their midst can be an unusual event. What of the innocuous lunch counters or restaurants amid the busy streets of Milwaukee?

We set out to observe this slice of restaurant-life at a small, downtown eatery called the Midwest Diner. You know the place, right? It’s the little diner in the dated, 20-story 633 Building on the corner of 7th & West Wisconsin Ave. (The office building with the revolving Miller beer sign on top). It has quite a reputation – both good and bad among workers downtown. It used to be called The Copper Penny – back when it was robbed one day by some transient reprobate from off the street. It’s in the same building that houses the Wisconsin Court of Appeals and countless law offices (this, of course, because it is located just steps away from the Milwaukee County Courthouse). One would think that they’d try to take steps to clean up the place’s reputation after that infamous robbery, besides changing the name.

Enter the loud, boisterous first of two operators, who works behind the front counter where the ashtrays are and the building’s office workers congregate to have their cigarette breaks at any given time of the day. He openly counts cash from the register, just begging to get the place robbed again. And, who is waiting for her take-out order, which has been lost in the shuffle by the wait staff while the owner counts his cash and complains that the new girl doesn’t yet know how to competently use the credit-card machine? None other than a judge with the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.

Located in the 633 Building, 633 W. Wisconsin Ave

Located in the 633 Building, 633 W. Wisconsin Ave.

So, with the appeals court judge standing there waiting patiently — with dignity — for her order of chicken noodle soup and salad, you’d think the owner of the place and his staff would be on their best behavior. But, alas, this owner has entered the scene just after a verbal tirade by a member of his wait staff, complaining again about the unorganized kitchen. And, of course, he has again entered the scene with his tummy peeking from beneath a too-short sweater vest. Not appetizing – not in the least.

But the place is not without its redeeming qualities, not the least of which is the value of the food served there. At very budget-friendly prices, you can count on getting generous helpings of home-cooked favorites like meatloaf, fried shrimp and assorted sandwiches with fries. Its varied menu selection also includes soups, which vary each day, and chili. Being Greek, the owners have a nice selection of Greek favorites (the gyro sandwich is surprisingly good).We would suggest, however, that you skip the Mexican dishes, which are rather flat and lifeless. And, the cheeseburger with fries combo’s taste and textures apparently were never fully resurrected from the freezer on this particular visit.

And, although the servers may be a bit inattentive during peak, lunch-time hours at the Midwest Diner, they are always very sweet and will bend over backwards to help when you finally do get their attention.

We’re not going to continue – you get the picture! Credit cards accepted.

Midwest Diner
633 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
414- 276-3830

Categories: Dining, Life & Leisure

0 thoughts on “Mr. and Mrs. M: Dinner, Diner, Let’s Grab Lunch”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It should be noted that Midwest Diner closed its doors for good at this location shortly after this article was published.

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