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Dish on dining
New hot spots for beer, brewed coffee and breakfast

Photos by Dan Bishop

November 2014

World of Beer

Beer, breakfasts and (freshly) brewed coffee — three of my favorite B’s. Add a local focus, and you’ll have this month’s three featured restaurants.

600 East Café

You can find coffee – and a whole lot more – at the new 600 East Café. For years, 600 E. Wisconsin Ave. was just one of those ubiquitous office buildings in downtown Milwaukee – the kind you drove past unless you worked or had a meeting inside.

But after building owner Dan Nelson received several inquiries from local restaurant operators about its availability, he decided to open his own restaurant, and the new 600 East Café was born, opening in August. This coffee shop meets rentable office space boasts high ceilings with exposed wood beams and Cream City brick walls, and its floor to ceiling windows offer plenty of natural light.

The café focuses on coffee, representing both Anodyne and Colectivo beans, and breakfast and lunch, but what’s most intriguing is this is a local-centric coffeehouse, with Carr Valley Cheese, Buddy’s Meat Market and Angelic Bakehouse as just a few of the Wisconsin and Milwaukee purveyors represented. "We can’t do everything locally, but we use everything we can," says Jill Ruffing, who runs the café with her husband, Brian. The Ruffings previously owned the Java House in Cedarburg.

Several items stand out on the menu. The build-your-own breakfast sandwich, with as many veggies as you like, is stellar, as is the buffalo chicken wrap, but my favorite is the pecan chicken salad. "It’s got the best balsamic dressing," says Ruffing.

This fall, look for flatbreads, along with daily specials, and the Ruffings plan to expand their catering operations, too. And if you don’t have time to drop by the café, just head to the walk-up window – sort of a drive-thru but for pedestrians.

600 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, (844) 600-EAST (3278),

World of Beer, Wauwatosa

In Wauwatosa, the second local World of Beer opened in late summer. But unlike the Brady Street location, this brew-centric place is more than just a great bar. It’s also a restaurant with a full gourmet menu that will expand this fall to include additional steaks, salmon and chicken entrées.

My husband, Kyle, and I started out with the German pretzel and a flight of beer. The pretzel was the biggest I’d ever seen. General manager Adam Buttina informed me that he’s made sure World of Beer is the only place in the area where you can get these German imports. The pretzel tasted great with Ace Pumpkin Cider, Milwaukee Brewing Co. Sasquatch pumpkin ale, The Great Dane Stone of Scone Scotch ale and C’est La Vie, World of Beer’s exclusive Belgium dry-hopped ale. Because Buttina went to college in Madison and worked at The Great Dane, he has a strong connection to that brewery, and WOB is one of the only places in town where you can get its craft beers.

We also tried the artisan sausage platter and the wedge salad. The sausages were savory, especially the jalapeno cheddar, and like the pretzel, it was an ample portion. The wedge salad, topped with blue cheese, bacon, tomatoes and red onions, had a delicate balsamic reduction drizzled on top that added depth. I thought it paired quite well with the Gin Jam cocktail, which included a spritz of beer.

World of Beer features live music on weekends, and it boasts more than 540 beers at any given time. Twice a week, Buttina infuses a brew with his custom-made infusion tower. "Instead of just adding ingredients to a beer, I talk with the brewers to ask them what they would add," Buttina explains. For example, he infused Milwaukee Brewing Co.’s O-Gii tea-laced beer with orange and lemon zests to bring out more of the beer’s citrus notes.

The brews, both bottled and on draft, change all the time. Loyalty club members get updates via a mobile app. The menu is updated in real time, too, as it comes to the table on an iPad instead of in a bound book.

418 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa, (262) 770-3902,

Engine Company No. 3

Since March, chef and owner Peter Sandroni has been working on opening Engine Company No. 3, just a few blocks down National Avenue from his La Merenda restaurant. All his hard work has paid off, and the new breakfast and lunch restaurant adds to the already phenomenal Walker’s Point dining scene.

Like La Merenda, Engine Company uses as many local ingredients as possible, and in fact, uses even more than La Merenda. "Breakfast really lends itself to eating locally," Sandroni says.

My son QJ especially enjoyed all the antique firefighting equipment and photos, and I appreciated the Cream City brick walls, the restored plank flooring and the honed wood tables. We both loved our meal. QJ ordered the apple flapjacks – caramelized apple-topped pancakes served with whipped cinnamon butter and caramel maple syrup. I adored my patacon con huevo – a fried, smashed plantain topped with beans, cilantro rice and a roasted red pepper sauce. QJ stole my sunny-side up egg. The lattes I enjoyed were made with freshly ground Valentine Coffee beans.

217 W. National Ave., Milwaukee, (414) 226-5695,



This story ran in the November 2014 issue of: