This East Side
coffee house and wine bar, which is kitty-corner from Sanford
Restaurant, serves up delicious breakfast burritos and homemade
But eggs aren’t
the focus — though breakfast is available all day. The focus is on
coffee and wine. "It’s all the things I like," says Lorna
Stone, who manages the Pleasant Kafe for her son, Geoff Stone, who
owns the café with his business partner, Eric Seegers.
The new café,
which boasts heated floors so the cold doesn’t creep in, is located
in what was once the Dentice Bros. Famous Italian Sausage Shop. The
shop’s original scale is displayed in the upstairs lounge seating,
and the doors to the original cooler have been converted into mirrors
in the bathrooms. The building had sat empty for 12 years until Geoff
Stone and Seegers rescued it.
light wood tables and red accents — including throw blankets on
chairs for those really cold winter days — create a warm yet
completely modern ambiance, and it’s the perfect place to linger
over a cup of Valentine coffee or a glass of cabernet sauvignon.
The menu is
limited, with a soup and sandwich of the day. The soups include
Italian wedding soup, chili and other heartier fare, and sandwiches
include a popular veggie panini, Polish sausages (for game day), a BLT
with avocado and a cubano. There are also plenty of decadent sweets,
from cannoli and tiramisu to chocolate fondue and cookies. But perhaps
the most sumptuous dessert is the chocolate cup filled with mascarpone
cheese and fresh berries and drizzled with honey. There’s also a
worthy cheese and sausage platter, which changes its artisan offerings
depending on what is best available. The wine list is carefully
curated, and many times, patrons of Sanford start or finish their
evening at the Kafe, which expects to do some wine tastings and events
later in the year. The sidewalk patio should also be a draw.
1600 N. Jackson
St., (414) 364-8128, pleasantkafe.com
have been a growing trend nationally, so it’s not surprising that
Milwaukee has its first sausage-centric restaurant, The Vanguard.
Opened in what was once the Home Bar in Bay View, The Vanguard is
nothing like the former dive bar — except for the floor and part of
the bar, owners Chris Schulist and Jim McCann took it down to the
studs. The new restaurant has clean gray walls, a white subway tile
backsplash behind the bar and light wood tables.
old building required so much work that it took them almost a year to
open, but the results are well worth it. The menu, created and
frequently changed by chef Shay Linkus, focuses on the homemade
sausages. Linkus grinds his own meat and stuffs his own links using
his own recipes. The only exception are the smoked sausages, which are
made by Underground Meats in Madison.
When they first
opened, Schulist and McCann expected brats, Polish sausage and the
like to be the most popular items on the menu. Instead, it’s the
duck BLT sausage, the Jamaican currywurst and others that are top
sellers. Every few months, Linkus mixes things up and adds new items.
Recently, he added a sausage that tastes like braised short ribs. The
delicate sausage is served on a chewy bun with a wine and herb laden
gravy, specks of blue cheese and tiny, fried slivers of red onion.
McCann perfectly pairs that sausage with a Lo Nuevo 2010 Spanish
chosen wine menu accentuates the sausages, but the bar is also
well-stocked with craft beers and cocktails on draft. The Vanguard
always serves up Manhattans and old-fashioneds, but new drinks include
a house mai tai.
sausages, Linkus makes fried pork belly bites and some of the most
fantastic fries in town. He makes his fries out of Yukon gold
potatoes, and despite what some customers think, he doesn’t use duck
fat — they’re vegetarian. Especially good are his poutines, which
can come with a topping of foie gras. He also makes an amazing deviled
egg of the day.
Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 539-3593, facebook.com/vanguardmke,
when it comes to alfresco dining come warmer weather will be the new
French bistro and wine bar on Okauchee Lake, Le Rendez-Vous. The patio
is especially spectacular, as it looks out onto Okauchee Lake.
The menu matches
the view, with French favorites like duck confit, crepes and steamed
mussels with Pernod. Owner Maxime Weltser grew up in Paris yet
vacationed on Okauchee Lake and in Oconomowoc since he was a boy.
clearly knows his way around a French restaurant, at the helm in the
kitchen is chef Joseph Volpe, co-owner of Tess and owner of the late
Holiday House. Volpe’s cuisine remains as inventive as ever, with
items like scallops and sweet potatoes with a ginger-orange beurre
switched over to heartier winter fare, featuring the aforementioned
duck confit and dishes like braised lamb shanks. French onion soup is
made from scratch, as are all the desserts, which include chocolate
mousse and creme brulee. On Tuesdays, the restaurant offers a mussels
special, and on Wednesdays, half-priced bottles of wine are the
feature. The wine menu is, of course, French-centric and artfully
N52 W35002 Lake
Drive, Okauchee Lake, (262) 468-4038, facebook.com/lerendezvousokauchee