The Bar in the first floor lobby at Saint Kate, 139 E. Kilbourn Ave., has always been an amiable space for gathering, whether for a mid-day coffee meeting or cocktail hour with friends (complete with live music). But now, the beautiful sunny space is also a destination for breakfast seven days a week.
You can order a cup of Valentine coffee for the road or bagels for the office; or sit down, relax, check your emails and enjoy a bagel sandwich on a weekday morning. Plentiful outlets and communal tables also make it an ideal space for breakfast meetings, complete with a menu of easy-to-eat staples.
But, thanks to the artful environs and comfortable seating, The Bar is also an option for leisurely morning meals or weekend brunches. The Bar itself offers a host of drinks, including brunch-worthy cocktails like bloody marys and a menu of specialty mimosas on Saturday & Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Brick oven specialties
Behind the menu is Saint Kate Executive Chef Paul Funk, who is utilizing techniques he learned in Italy, as well as his expertise in house-made charcuterie to showcase a menu designed to be both versatile and efficient.
The menu also makes full use of the brick oven at Proof Pizza, which shifts over to pizza service (order yours at the Bar for dine-in or carry-out) starting at 11 a.m.
Funk has used the oven to create delicious options like the Dutch Baby, a fluffy souffle-style pancake which – as its tender middle deflates – is filled with cinnamon roasted apples, bacon caramel (infused with the flavorful leavings of the Sprecher root beer braised bacon slab served at ARIA), whipped cream and candied pecans ($12).
There's also flavorful shakshuka featuring two 3 Brothers Farm eggs poached in a fragrant sauce of roasted peppers, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and fresh mozzarella ($14).
Meanwhile, parmesan breakfast potatoes (perfectly roasted so that they are fluffy in the center and crisp on the exterior) make a great side on their own for $5. But they can also be topped with one or more additions from ARIA’s pulled short rib pastrami ($4) to Nova lox salmon ($4) or mushrooms and goat cheese ($3). Add an oven-baked egg for $3.
Sandwiches & bagels
On the handheld side, sandwiches begin with a Tuscan style focaccia bread and topped with a flavorful egg frittata that benefits from the subtle sweetness of leeks, thanks to a technique Funk picked up in Italy that renders the allium into a versatile, flavorful sauce.
One sandwich is further topped with spinach, artichokes, parmesan and white sauce ($11). Another features applewood smoked bacon, Wisconsin cheddar and arugula ($11).
If bagels are more your speed, you’ll find some of the city’s best, produced by Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette in Walker’s Point and toasted to perfection in the brick oven.
“If there’s someone in your neighborhood that does something really well, you might as well take advantage,” says Funk. “At Ally Boy’s they live and breathe for bagels, and they’re some of the best I’ve had.”
Bagels are available individually ($3) or by the half-dozen or dozen ($15/$28) in flavors including sesame, onion, everything or plain. Accompanying schmears include classic cream cheese; everything spiced whipped goat cheese or ‘nduja (spreadable spicy Calabrian salami).
Conjure the flavors of a New York deli with the bagel board, featuring your choice of bagel and schmear with onion, tomato, Nova lox, capers and herbs ($11). Or order up one of four bagel sandwiches, including a pastrami and Swiss ($12) made with cuts from Aria’s house-cured long bone pastrami (served as a house special on Friday and Saturday evenings) or Funk’s favorite topped with ‘nduja (spicy Calabrian salami), avocado and jack cheese ($14).
“It’s just a really solid spicy breakfast sandwich,” says Funk. “The ‘nduja actually functions as a smear on its own, bringing a slightly spicy, salty flavor that’s really nicely balanced by the creamy avocado.”
The Bar at Saint Kate is open for breakfast daily from 7 to 11 a.m. with full hours Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to midnight. Handmade Proof pizzas are available to order at the Bar beginning at 11 a.m. daily.
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.