Watts Tea Shop

Review by: Michael Stern


This second-floor restaurant above the George Watt china shop is Milwaukee’s premier place for ladies’ lunch or a tea-time snack. Midday, sandwiches are served on tender-crumb homemade whole wheat bread, and there is a polite menu of quiche, soup, and salad. While we adore the mixed green and black olive salad sandwich, the most remarkable thing about Watts’ repertoire its many ways with chicken. There is chicken salad of white or mixed meat, minced chicken, sliced chicken, and chicken salad Polynesian, that last one mixed with coconut shreds, pecans, and a citrus vinaigrette.

Unique Watts beverages include a Waterford spritzer (lemonade, lime, and sparkling water) and a cold Russian (coffee, chocolate, and whipped cream). And whether you come for a meal or a snack, pay attention to dessert, which is glorious. Of the several sweets available, the house signature is filled sunshine cake, made from a decades-old recipe for triple-layer sponge cake with custard filling and seven-minute frosting.

Breakfast at Watts begins when the store on the first story opens, at 9am. The menu is small, including eggs and pastries and likeable French toast, made from Watts bread and served with a sheaf of fried ham. The one wonderful item we’ve never seen anywhere before and makes breakfast here a Milwaukee must for us is ginger toast. It is like cinnamon toast, but made with ground ginger instead of cinnamon. The ginger is mixed with sugar and butter and spread across the house-baked whole wheat bread, then broiled until the topping melts into a slightly-spicy, slightly-sweet frosting all across the bread. Ginger toast is a dramatically old-fashioned taste, a perfect symbol of the fine culinary traditions that reign in the kitchen of this seventy-five-year-old restaurant.

Ginger toast is also available at afternoon tea, as is the dessert of filled sunshine cake.

What To Eat

Ginger Toast

Sunshine Cake

French Toast


Watts Tea Shop Recipes

Filled Sunshine Cake


What do you think of Watts Tea Shop?

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