Dead Bird Brewing Co., 1726 N. 5th St., has developed quite the following since opening up its doors in August of 2019. And yes, a great deal of that has to do with the brewery’s beer. But Milwaukee’s only plant-based brewery has also earned a following for their delicious food, from nachos and poutine to queso and street tacos.
Not surprisingly, when the brewery launched its first-ever brunch service on Sunday, Jan. 16 it sold out in less than two hours.
“We were definitely blown away," says co-owner Nick Kocis, noting that the kitchen is prepared to do double duty this weekend to ensure they can accommodate more diners.
Serving food is a big task for the brewery, which makes everything in a tiny kitchen that operates with no hood and no fryers. But both the ingenuity of their kitchen staff, combined with a commitment to serving as much scratch-made fare as possible (right down to the condiments, cheese and meat substitutes) has paid off.
“From the beginning, we’ve always said that we want to create food that’s not just ‘good for vegan food,” says Kocis. “It’s just plain good. And we approached the brunch menu in the same way.”
On the menu, guests will find a small-but-mighty list of options including dishes that feature biscuits made with housemade sunflower seed butter and breakfast sausage made in-house with pea-based TVP.
On that menu, you'll find a host of brunchworthy items, including a classic breakfast sandwich featuring a house biscuit topped with Just Egg, guajillo pepper aioli, pickled onions, greens and tomato ($9; add sausage for +$2); along with the already famed Rae’s Chicky & A Biscuit featuring a house biscuit with Just Egg, maple chicky, beer cheese and onion jam ($10; add sausage for +$2).
But guests can also dig into plates of housemade chilaquiles topped with salsa verde and Just egg ($12); house biscuits covered in mushroom gravy ($10) or a wet burrito stuffed with all the goods, from roasted potatoes and Cuban black beans to Just egg, onions and tomato and doused in salsa verde ($14).
Diners who’d prefer not to load down their breakfast with gluten can enjoy the brewery’s wheat-free Southern Waffle. Inspired by Johnnie cakes, the waffle is made with corn and buckwheat flours and topped with brown butter, maple syrup and fruit compote ($10).
And yes, it’s brunch, so there are also plenty of drinks to be enjoyed, from clever boozy concoctions including a wine-based bloody mary ($10, a refreshing beermosa made with Gotdambier ($7) or seasonal mimosa ($8) to a Cold Fashioned with Cappelletti and Pilcrow cold brew ($9).
Want it all? Order the brunch cocktail flight for $15 (you get a bloody, mimosa, beermosa and seasonal mimosa).
Want none of that? There are mocktails too, including a virgin mary (all the flavor; no booze, $6), an orange mint fizz ($5), a seasonal fizz ($5) or a $12 NA flight featuring all of the above plus Pilcrow cold brew for those who simply can’t decide on just one thing.
The flock flies at midnight
Kocis says that, moving forward folks can expect to see an evolution of the brunch menu, as well as expanded hours, as time moves forward. Ultimately, he says, they are likely to expand Sunday brunch to be an all-day affair. Keep an eye on Dead Bird’s social media channels so you don’t miss it.
Currently, brunch is served on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Dead Bird’s regular menu is offered from 2 to 6 p.m.)
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.