La Plancha, a restaurant that aims to showcase cuisine inspired by the flavors of Honduras, is scheduled to open at 551 W. Mitchell St. this fall.
Behind the project is Robert Klemm, chef-owner of The Villa at Heaven City in Mukwonago. He’ll operate the restaurant with the help of his wife, Sindy (Reyes), and mother-in-law Dina Nuñez, both of whom are from Catacamus, Honduras. Leonardo Plata, a chef at Heaven City, will also assist with kitchen operations at the new restaurant.
La Plancha, which means "the iron" in Spanish, will serve a combination of familiar Latin American fare, as well as Honduran specialties like Honduran enchiladas (which are made using fried tortillas that are built upwards in a similar fashion to a tostada), tacos (rolled and fried like a flauta), torrejas (a sweet Latin American dish similar to French toast) baleadas (folded tortillas stuffed with fillings like cheese, sour cream, roasted meats or plantains), papusas and carne guisada, a classic pork stew made with a distinctive red sauce.
Meanwhile, a salsa bar will feature housemade chips along with a variety of accompaniments including chismol, a fresh Honduran salsa with similarities to pico de gallo.
On the beverage side there will be agua fresca and Honduran sodas, along with micheladas, margaritas, Bloody Marys and a few popular Central American cocktails like the guaro sour.
Klemm says the menu will focus on affordable fare, with options priced between $4 and $12. There will also be an emphasis on bilingual service, creating an open and welcoming environment for both English and Spanish speakers.
"I love the idea of putting out great quality food in a really casual atmosphere," he says. "This will be the sort of place where, if you want to drop by for margaritas and tacos, we’ll have that. But, we’ll also dive a bit deeper with some of the menu items to really showcase the styles and flavors in Honduran cuisine."
In terms of atmosphere, Klemm says he'll bring a tropical island feel in the bright open space by incorporating cabanas to create smaller, more intimate dining areas.
"We want to make it fresh and fun with lots of bright colors and plants. In both Catacamas and Roatan, there’s a huge Mayan influence, so we’ll also be incorporating various elements from the culture, including stone and wood figures, some of which we hope to import from Honduras."
Renderings from John Emory of Milwaukee Wood & Iron depict the basics of the interior concept.
Klemm says the plans for the restaurant sprung up from a failed restaurant deal. Nuñez initially signed a lease on the space to open a restaurant called Las Parrillas with another partner. However, when plans fell through, Nuñez and Klemm decided to work together to create a restaurant showcasing some of her home country’s native dishes.
Interior remodeling is expected to begin in the next couple of weeks, so Klemm says his hope is to open La Plancha sometime in September. The restaurant will initially open for breakfast and lunch, expanding to dinner as demand warrants. Klemm says the space will also be open in the evenings for parties and events. Beginning later today, you can follow La Plancha’s progress on Facebook.
In the meantime, folks can get an early taste of the restaurant’s Honduran-inspired fare at The Big Taste, which takes place Sunday, July 23 at Pier Wisconsin. For information or to purchase tickets, visit milwaukeebigtaste.com.
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.