Opened by a prominent local restaurateur and housed in an exquisitely restored century-old park pavilion, Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro (3133 E. Newberry Blvd., 414/962-6300, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. weekdays, 5–10 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. Sun., entrées $7–12) has, with each edition of this guide, somehow managed to remain rock-solid as a dining highlight. Its French cuisine is superb and, if nothing else, the view from the drive along the lake is worth the time. It’s a popular Sunday brunch spot. Best of all—the interiors are airy, offering plenty of privacy between tables.
The regular airmail cod-cheek delivery is a bit gimmicky, but the seafood is recommended by most Milwaukeeans at River Lane Inn (313 W. River Lane, Brown Deer, 414/354-1995, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. weekdays, 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $15–28). Try to sit on the lovely patio—great view and a sense of privacy.
A newer, fantastic restaurant in the far northern suburbs is The Riversite (11120 N. Mequon Rd., Mequon, 262/242-6050, 5–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., $19–31), which features remarkable seasonal cuisines to supplement classics—excellent steak and lamb. Of note here are the unusually capacious dining areas—a popular place but one where you’re not elbow-to-elbow.