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Jazz cafe, Mexican fusion and a Milwaukee Carson's 

By MARTIN HINTZ
Photos by Dan Bishop

May 2013

City, Net Cafe

There seems to be new eateries almost everywhere you turn in greater Milwaukee, from downtown’s hopping East Wisconsin Avenue to the outer reaches of Waukesha County. Obviously, there is no boundary for good times and good beverage. Here are a few of the newest places around town.

City.Net Cafe (306 E. Wisconsin Ave.) celebrated its grand opening in February and is already garnering fans for its food and occasional live jazz in the evenings. Owned and operated by veteran restaurateur and jazz drummer Sam Belton, downtowners drop in for breakfast or lunch specials, such as Tamie’s Turkey or Sam’s Wrap. Espresso drinks are by Abyssinia Coffee Roasters, with Belton doing his own roasting. He secures his beans from Ghana, Tanzania, Indonesia and elsewhere, favoring a powerful "red eye" espresso for himself. Belton has attended roasting workshops and completed a course at the American Barista & Coffee School in Portland to hone his skills. His daughter, Shani, is the chef.

Backing up for the likes of Milwaukee jazz greats Manty Ellis and Adekola Adedapo, Belton is often out on the road with the Don Lewis Quartet. His jazz-themed restaurant extends to a gallery of musicians’ photos lining the walls.

A Mexican-fusion restaurant called Hispania will open early in June in Delafield (627 Genesse St.). Hispania owners Juan and Natalia Gutierrez plan to use local produce to build the menu of their white-tablecloth, fine-dining establishment. Fish and vegetables are signature items, in the hopes of educating the American palette about "hidden" Mexico’s culinary richness. Servings will be in a small-plate format, with an emphasis on dishes from the family’s native state of Chiapas.

Gutierrez’s dad, Antonio, owns a coffee bean farm in Mexico, and his coffees will be served at Hispania. Small bags of the organically grown beans will also be sold, as well as artwork and textiles from Chiapas, Oaxaca and other regions in Mexico. Gutierrez is a mechanical and electrical engineer; his wife acted as architect for the restaurant.

Carson’s Prime Steaks & Famous Barbecue, considered by some reviewers as among the "Top 40 Chicago Restaurants Ever," is opening a Milwaukee location in early June in the first floor of The Moderne (1141 N. Old World Third St.), a 30-story condo/apartment tower.

Owner Dean Carson says his place is a restaurant for food lovers. Displaying his dedication to prep, some two-thirds of his space in The Moderne is reserved for the kitchen. The restaurant will seat 150 people.

He’s using all local contracting talent and even has a house in the city, demonstrating his commitment to Milwaukee. "I like the city and have friends here," says Carson, a third generation restaurateur.

The place will be definitely upscale, though sandwiches will hover around $10; the prime Iowa beef steaks will have a low $30s price point. Naturally, Wisconsin cheeses will be served. "Why buy French cheese when it is so good here?" he asks. The restaurant space was designed by Carson’s longtime pal, veteran creative Matt Rinka, owner of Milwaukee-based Rinka Chung Architecture. Rinka also designed the overall Moderne, as well as Milwaukee restaurants Café Benelux, Café Hollander, Café Centraal, Brick 3 Pizza, Nomad World Pub, Trocadero and Blackthorn Irish Pub.


This story ran in the May 2013 issue of: