People = Pleasing

The stretch of Milwaukee between Division and North is a bustling corridor of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and boutiques. They’re lined up on the Avenue one after the other until even the long-time neighborhood native is overwhelmed with choices. One place any Local Tourist must stop? People Lounge.

This Wicker Park restaurant-slash-lounge is housed in a century old Victorian building, and inside its floor to ceiling windows is a comfortable atmosphere of wrought iron, oak and copper. World Music plays over the speakers and after 10pm Thursday through Saturday DJs kick it up a few decibels. The tapas, though, is where they really make some noise.

People Lounge hosted our Chef’s Table event, course after course proving that this is a spot that goes high on the TLT-approved list. Everyone was greeted with a choice of red or white sangria and then we began with an array of artisanal Spanish cheeses, served with a house made fig jam, green apple, and candied walnuts.

Artisanal Spanish Cheeses at People Lounge

This was quickly followed by a gorgeous green avocado salad topped with cucumber, crispy serrano, and a creamy avocado vinaigrette.

Avocado Salad at People Lounge

Our next dish was these incredibly succulent and tender scallops. They were nested in a carrot-cumin quinoa puree and topped with crispy serrano ham, wasabi greens, and edamame. These, alone, are worth a visit, which shouldn’t be surprising when you learn that Chef Ralph Steinberg holds a Masters in Ichthyology – the study of seafood.

Pan seared scallops

Next we shared two varieties of creative empanadas. One was filled with a mixture of oyster, porcini, portobello and button mushrooms and goat cheese and served with a chive aioli.

Mushroom and goat cheese empanadas

The next were stuffed with sweet chili pork and served with belgian beer aioli and apple salsa. Sweet and spicy, these disappeared almost immediately!

Sweet chili pork empanadas

The skirt steak…oh my, the skirt steak. Chef Ralph told us this was one of the original dishes on the menu and it’s such a favorite that they had to keep. Yes, oh yes, they do. The braised wagyu is fork tender and served atop a bed of tomatoes, cornichons, capers, and aged manchego cheese. This dish is worth fighting for.

Skirt Steak

The skirt steak was paired with the traditional patatas bravas, crispy potatoes served with a red pepper aioili.

Patatas bravas at People Lounge

Our final “savory” dish was almost sweet enough to be dessert. Chef Ralph stuffed dates with goat cheese, wrapped them in applewood smoked bacon, and drizzled them with an apple cider reduction. Decadent.

Goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates

And then, our final dish of the evening was a double chocolate cake with housemade mint chocolate ice cream. Note that there is no picture.

Tapas is a popular choice for groups of friends, so like many of you I’ve had my fair share of the Spanish cuisine. People stands out, and it’s no wonder. Not only is Chef Ralph educated, he’s also experienced, with a resume that includes North Pond and NoMi. He’s also good People. And People, part restaurant, part lounge, is all good.

Chef Ralph Steinberg, People Lounge, and Theresa Carter, The Local Tourist






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