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Parkside 23: A corner comes alive with fresh, local cuisine

Dec. 8, 2010

For 3 ½ years, I've driven past the corner of North Avenue and Pilgrim Square Drive and let out a sad sigh. There sat a vacant yet attractive building, the former Sticks 'n Stones restaurant. To me, it always seemed so unfortunate that such a pleasant and accessible dining destination sat empty.

Fortunately for me and everyone else in the western suburbs, that corner has come alive again with the opening of Parkside 23 by restaurateurs Joe and Pam DeRosa. With a name derived from its location (across the street from Wirth Park at 2300 north), PS 23, as it's known, describes itself simply - "Kitchen, Patio, Bar, Farm." The first three make sense, but where does farm fit in? Behind the restaurant, actually, where PS 23 will use 10,000 square feet to grow its own leafy vegetables, sweet corn, herbs, spices, tomatoes and vine crops.

PS 23 describes itself best right on the menu: "There is a simple way to bring food to the table. It starts with a respect for the land we cultivate." Fresh and local are the themes at this casual restaurant, whether it's rotisserie meats and fish, local produce, homemade cocktail syrups or craft beers. Everything feels and tastes home grown and homemade.

Parkside 23's menu is uniquely organized by price, rather than the traditional food categories such as appetizers, salads and entrees. It gives the diner the opportunity to rethink the food they choose for their dining experience.

The $5-to-$12 price category features salads, sandwiches, plates and flatbreads. A plate is typically starch, meat or fish, and things from the garden.

The $13-to-$17 category features an ahi tuna salad, among various plates including cedar plank salmon, a braised short rib, one-half a rotisserie chicken and baby-back ribs.

The $18-plus category offers live Maine lobster scallop risotto, a combo chicken-rib plate, rotisserie duck and a stuffed pork chop.

"Our commitment is to be involved in Brookfield and responsible to the good of its people. We want people to partner with us in having a social conscience, as well as a passion for fresh, be it the bar or kitchen," said George Flees, general manager of PS 23.

The 80-seat patio, featuring a pergola and fountain, are sure to be very popular when the warm weather returns.

Those of us who already dined at Sticks 'n Stones will be happy to know that PS 23 has successfully dealt with the sound issue. That, combined with the comfortable décor and the fresh food, makes for a great dining experience for lunch or dinner.

The Basics

NAME: Parkside 23

ADDRESS: 2300 N. Pilgrim Square Drive

PHONE: (262) 784-7275

WEBSITE: parkside23.com (not working until January 2011)

FARE: fresh and homemade American, featuring local ingredients (gluten-free menu available)

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

PRICE RANGE: $5 to $27, approximately

RESERVATIONS: not accepted, although call-ahead seating is

LOOKING TO 'GRAB A BITE'?

"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a "date night" or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, e-mail her at kmwaldkirch@yahoo.com.

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