By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Sep 17, 2007 at 3:57 PM Photography: Eron Laber

Have you ever been meaning to try a new restaurant, but months later, haven't had the time to get there? That was my experience with Café Hollander, which isn't really that new anymore.

As a fan of the old Gil's Café (but more when it was a coffee house in the mid '90s and less when it got all upscale toward the end of its run), and just about anything the Diablos Rojos group creates, Hollander has been on my list for some time. But last Friday, my wife and I picked a movie across the street at the Downer Theater, and gave ourselves just enough time for a quick dinner at this unique Milwaukee restaurant.

I've gotta say, it turned out to be one of the more pleasant casual dining experiences I've had in a long time. Aesthetically, the restaurant makes the most of the unique corner building. We were seated right away, and despite our server's apologies for taking too long, he actually placed our orders and delivered our food in lightning speed. He could barely have been more attentive and friendly.

Both of us ordered a cup of their delicious white cheddar ale soup for $3.50. With a topper of rye croutons, it was easily the best beer cheese soup I've had, and actually tasted more like fondue than a simple soup.

For my entrée, I tried the maple chicken salad for $10. It featured toasted pecans, crisp bacon bits, caramelized apples and mixed greens tossed in maple vinaigrette, and topped with a marinated grilled chicken breast. Quite good.

My wife had the spinach and cranberry salad ($8). It was baby spinach tossed in lemon vinaigrette, pecans, cranberries and blue cheese crumbles. She, too, enjoyed her choice.

We were out with plenty of time for the movie, and both of us look forward to returning for a brunch or a more substantial meal. I only wish I had gotten to Café Hollander sooner -- but it was well worth the wait. 

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.