By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Apr 19, 2021 at 12:50 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

The former Birch + Butcher restaurant has been reimagined and will reopen this June with a new name and new partners at the helm.

Founded in 2017 by restaurateur Becca Zwiefelhofer and former Chef Miles Borghgraef, Birch + Butcher introduced the city to contemporary open-hearth dining. 

Zwiefelhofer is now building on that foundation with a new restaurant concept operated in partnership with well respected sommelier and entrepreneur Ben Christiansen; owner of Waterford Wine & Spirits; and Chef Kyle Knall, a notable chef who comes to Milwaukee via New York City. 

Named for the tree of the same name, Birch restaurant, located at 459 E. Pleasant St., will pay homage to the essence of the tree: not only its stunning white bark and graceful air, but its strong will to thrive and survive where other trees cannot. 

And much as the trees mark the rebirth of spring after the winter months, Birch will represent the rebirth and rekindling of a popular neighborhood restaurant.

“From the moment I first tasted Chef Knall’s cuisine I felt his culinary perspective was a perfect fit for our hearth,” says Zwiefelhofer. “I look forward to seeing all our friends and neighbors gathered back near the hearth and to reintroduce you to our delicious food, a fantastic wine list and gracious service.”

What to expect

Knall, whose career includes work on both the East Coast and New Orleans, worked as sous chef at Gramercy Tavern, an eatery which served as a model of the symbiotic relationships that are possible between local farms and purveyors and restaurants for over 25 years.

He also received accolades for his work as executive chef and partner at Maysville in New York, where New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells praised his culinary skill, noting that his “understated American style is a winning blend of the refined and the unpretentious.” 

In kind, the hyper-seasonal New American restaurant will hone in on Knall’s skills to to celebrate Wisconsin farmers and producers, as well as traditions from around the globe, in a menu that puts fresh ingredients  – including vegetables, meats and fish – at the fore with simple, fresh cuisine.

Knall, whose wife is from Milwaukee, says he fell in love with the city on his first visit, noting that the city’s food scene has “the same buzz and excitement” that he fell in love with in New York City. 

“The level of graciousness in Milwaukeeans is welcoming and beautiful,” he says. “I deeply respect what Milwaukee brings to the table and am so very proud to be joining this rich food community.”

Meanwhile, the renovated restaurant will feature a new large bar at the front of the space which features not only a menu of seasonally driven cocktails, but also an extensive wine list curated by Christiansen, an entrepreneur who has made Waterford Wine & Spirits a destination for wine lovers, offering a wide range of extraordinary wines, from affordable and delicious daily staples to rare bottlings from coveted estates around the world.

Birch will debut with grand opening preview dinners Friday and Saturday evenings during the month of May, followed by a grand opening, champagne toast and full menu roll out in early June when the restaurant will re-open for both indoor and patio dining.

Once fully open, hours will  include happy hour at 4 p.m. and dinner service Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday brunch will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Reservations are welcome, book online at birchandbutcher.com.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.