Beerline Cafe, a vegetarian eatery at 2076 N. Commerce St., opened quietly this past weekend in a modern space on the Milwaukee River.
Owner Michael Allen, formerly of Cafe Manna in Brookfield, says the reception has been very promising for the new eatery, with guests and neighbors showing an interest in the vegetarian menu, which also caters to vegan and gluten-free diners.
Allen, who worked in the non-profit sector for many years, says the cafe is something he’s been contemplating for years.
"I actually worked at Cafe Manna for three years specifically so that I could work up to opening the cafe," Allen says. "I used to travel for work a lot, and I took note of all the creperies and cafes around the U.S. I loved them and really wanted to bring that concept back to Milwaukee."
The cafe offers unique takes on both sweet and savory crepes, including an egg and cheese crepe with melted Cheddar and topped with housemade tomato coulis and fresh scallions ($5.95) and the Spring Roll with Napa Cabbage, pickled carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts, peppers and basil and topped with peanut sauce and mint ($4.95). On the sweet side, diners can opt for crepes like Americana, featuring Gala apples, cinnamon sauce and melted cheddar cheese, topped with house made granola ($7.85).
Other menu items include salads, panini – including a grilled PB&J featuring peanut butter, jam and banana slices (also available made with peanut butter and veggie bacon for $5.25) and snacks like avocado hummus with house baked tortilla chips ($3.45). Meanwhile, Beerline Mac and Cheese features rice elbows with vegan Daiya cheese sauce and dried chives ($4.50).
This week’s specials at the cafe include caramelized onion and navy bean soup, housemade fresh apple cider, and cinnamon bread pudding with coconut whipped cream.
"We’re trying to source as much locally as possible," says Allen. "We’re also carrying two local bakery products right now and all of our beers are from Milwaukee."
Beverages include coffee drinks, juices and smoothies, as well as bottled Milwaukee beers from Lakefront, Sprecher and Milwaukee Brewing Co. Two bottled and four tap wine options are also available, priced between $6.45 and $9 per glass, and available in half and full carafes.
The cafe, which has attained three-star certification from the Green Restaurant Association, was built to reflect eco-friendly values through efforts like LED lighting, energy star kitchen equipment and implementation of water saving mechanisms.
Diners will notice an attractive 200-foot living wall in the dining room, which is planted with five or six varieties of tropical plants, accomplishing both air filtration and humidity control. Bins for both compost and recycling are also available in both the dining room and kitchen.
The building itself is made from reclaimed and recycled materials, including the tables which are made from reclaimed barn wood.
"We’re also located in a former brownfield development site, so that made a difference in our Green rating," Allen notes.
The cafe, which seats 46, with an additional 44 seats on its patio, is currently in its soft opening phase and plans to host a grand opening in October.
Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Both dine-in and carry-out are currently available, with delivery on the way.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.