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Address: 2624 N Downer
Phone: 961.9560
Official Website: None
Photo Gallery: None
Map & Directions: View



The Scene:
If there was ever a cocktail lounge invented for couples, The Mosaic is it. From its candlelit ambiance to its warm, beige-and-red interior, the former space of Don Quijote restaurant has been transformed into a quiet retreat from everyday clubland. Couples sip wine on linen-covered tables while a live piano player-or perhaps the occasional DJ-compliment the mellow vibe of one of the most charming lounges in Milwaukee.

The Drinks:
Wine connoisseurs take note: The Mosaic has an extensive list, with dozens of white and red varieties available by the bottle and glass. On Tuesday nights, some of them are offered for $6 each. We found a lovely Chianti that demanded a second serving (or third, for that matter). The martini list was equally as charming as the ambiance. Perhaps it was the tongue-and-cheek names, such as Oh Nuts . a shake-up of Ketel One vodka, Frangelico and Kaluha. Starry Starry Night looked tempting with its mix of Vincent Van Gogh vodka, blue curaco, Chambord and splash of sparkling champagne. But to be truly dazzled, order The Mosaic, a $9.50 mix of Effen Black Cherry Vanilla vodka, Alize Passion Fruit Cognac, Grand Marnier, mango liqueur and splash of grapefruit juice. Got all that? We certainly did. Bartender Kristine served it in a frosty glass and made our mouths sing, even the piano player and jazz vocalists were doing just fine in that department. Even the "short" cocktails at The Mosaic are generously poured in a larger-than-usual tub glass. Call drinks in tubs average around $6, but given the size of the drink, the price is worth it.

The Music:
Formats vary depending on which night you go. The big, baby grand piano in the corner of the front dining room is usually the centerpiece of entertainment throughout the evening. Musicians play everything from smooth jazz to Sinatra. And since The Mosaic is technically called "a piano bar," many guests and couples who come in for drinks are expecting to hear just that-soothing tunes and melodic vocals. For a departure from the usual musical format, visit on Tuesday nights when DJ Crisgo Disco hosts Sweet and Low Down Tuesdays, featuring the best in mushroom jazz. Deep house (request one of his Dido tracks) melds with live, instrumental performances on saxophones, trumpets and more. The result is a hypnotic brand of music that demands another glass of wine. How sweet it is!

The People:
One of the first things we noticed about the crowd on any given night is the wide range in ages. We spotted everyone from their mid 20's to early 50's. Many of them were enjoying wine with friends or coupling off at one of the cozy tables by candlelight. Tuesdays are service industry nights, so the crowd tends to be younger than on most other nights. One evening we arrived early to find ourselves alone in the place with only the bartender. She started up a conversation with us and even poured a few different samples of wine when we weren't sure which one to try. The friendly service complimented the already warm vibe of the lounge. We've visited piano bars that come across as stark, cold, uninviting or just plain too pretentious. The Mosaic defies all of those stereotypes by not only creating a charming ambiance
within, but attracting a crowd that reflects its warm interior.

One of the most memorable characteristics of the old Don Quijote was the interior white-and-blue Spanish tiling, particularly in the back entry way. Sadly, all of those have been taken down; what's replaced it is a textured look of beige walls and bar top that looks like-well, a mosaic. The entire kitchen was ripped out to open up the rear entrance and create a spacious bar lit up by fixtures crowned with brown, beaded caps. There's also an outdoor patio along the back, with about five large tables and tiki torches for ambiance. The front room, which faces the Downer Avenue, is now once again accessible (the old Don Quijote had permanently sealed this doorway off). The best part about The Mosaic's atmosphere is the uninhibited use of candlelight. Tealights work themselves in as part of the interior design, in everything from a gothic-inspired, wall-mounted candelabrum, to the lone flame welcoming you into the ladies bathroom. Every table has its own light, and along the bar, they're tastefully scattered to create
a romantic glow. There's also large, clay dishes filled with a mix of peanuts of M&M's, which compliment both beer (peanuts) and wine (chocolate).

What to Wear:
Most of the people that saw sipping, smooching and stirring up conversation just looked good. Not in the uber-gaughty, club garb sense, but in a classically polished kind of way. Ruffled tennis skirts, Capri pants and tank tops with delicate beaded trim were all spotted on several occasions. For the guys, polo shirts, crisp t-shirts and oxfords were the popular choice. There's no specific dress code at The Mosaic, but those who go are likely a) out on a date, be the first one or not b) gathering with friends for pre-evening drinks c) are in their 30's and 40's and look nice when ever they go out. Bottom line? Make an effort to look good, because the clientele tends to be a little more polished than your everyday corner hangout.

When to Go:
The style of music you want to hear may dictate when to pop in for a visit. Thursdays and Fridays tend to be the busiest nights, even more so than Saturdays. All of these evenings feature live jazz and piano performers. Arrive early (before 10 p.m.) if you want to get a spot in the front room where there's the most space. The Mosaic also offers a limited bar menu of appetizers, such as spinach artichoke dip and bruschetta. Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be the slowest nights, but they're also the nights when you will find the most drink specials. Tuesdays serve up $4 cosmos and champagne splits, which add a nice touch to the housey vibe of the place. Want to enjoy a quiet glass of wine at the bar by your lonesome? Hit The Mosaic early in the week. To flock around with couples and a few North Shorers or two, the weekends are your best bet.


Reader Comments

Posted by: clubmilwaukee
On Sat Aug:06:2005:
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