By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Nov 25, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here's a taste of what's new and notable – including a brand new restaurant concept from the owners of Maxie’s and Blue’s Egg, a Black Weekend promotion at Black Sheep, the release of Black Friday Ale at Lakefront Brewery, and a very special beer and cheese pairing seminar at Sprecher Brewing.

BKC scheduled to open in May in Story Hill
Joe Muench and Dan Sidner; the owner-operators of Maxie’s and Blue’s Egg Restaurants recently announced they’ll bring a unique restaurant and market concept to the Story Hill neighborhood.

The new concept will be called STORY HILL – BKC (Bottle, Kitchen & Cup) and will be located in the former Goldfish Uniforms retail space at 5102 W. Bluemound Rd. 

From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, BKC will function as a neighborhood coffee shop, featuring freshly roasted espresso and coffee from Valentine Coffee. Food options will include pastry, sandwiches, soups and salads.

At 4 p.m. each day, the coffee shop will morph into a full-service restaurant which serves dinner until 10 p.m. daily. The menu, which will focus on seasonal produce and local artisan ingredients will accompany a wine list featuring 30 wines by the glass and 20 local craft beers on tap.

"The morph from coffee shop to full service dining is about giving the neighborhood what it needs most," says Sidner. "We want to be that approachable, affordable place to gather in the morning or for lunch and then a special place that neighbors can take friends at night. The food menu development really has a long way to go, but it will be significantly different from either Maxie's or Blue's."

The space will also have a retail wine and beer shop open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The shop will feature 300 wines, 100 beer selections and a limited selection of high-end spirits. 

"Probably the most significant thing about this business is that we are abandoning the traditional wine pricing model for a restaurant," says Sidner. "The retail shop will be competitively priced with other wine/beer/liquor stores in town and the wine in the restaurant will be retail plus a corkage, but it is fair to say that Story Hill BKC will have the most affordable wines prices of any restaurant in the state of Wisconsin.

"Beer will be competitively priced with other bars,  but the advantage will be a the ability to take growlers of tap beer to go at very affordable prices. We are taking a very different approach here because we hope to build a clientele who is loyal to us for both the on-premise dining and drinking and as a retail wine/beer/liquor store.  This concept doesn't work if we are only selling product on premise." 

The restaurant, which is expected to seat 65, is currently expected to open in May after significant renovations to both the interior and exterior of the building.

The interior will incorporate a combination of reclaimed wood, metal and brick. The coffee shop and wine bar will be furnished with tables and lounge furniture. Sidner also says they hope to include a small patio for use during the summer months.

"The building is a total gut and remodel job," reports Sidner. "We hope to be approved for licensing in December and begin demo immediately.  Actual construction would begin in January with the hope of opening the doors in early May."

Shop local and get rewarded at Black Sheep
Black Sheep, 216 S. 2nd St., has created a special "give back" Black Weekend promotion for Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, Nov. 29 through Sunday, Dec. 1 to reward customers for shopping locally.

Just bring in your receipt from a locally owned Downtown Milwaukee business to receive special happy hour drink and food pricing all weekend long or $5 off Sunday brunch. Food features will include a very special holiday "Haute Dog," the Turducken Dog, featuring a turkey hot dog wrapped in chicken breast and duck bacon, and served with cranberry aioli and house-made sweet potato fries.

In addition to specials, customers can also enter to win $100 in gift certificates from local boutiques.

Beer and cheese pairing seminar at Sprecher
Speaking of beer, on Tuesday, Dec. 3, Brewmaster Randy Sprecher and Cheese Guru Sara Hill of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board will host a beer and cheese pairing session, just in time for holiday entertaining.

Participants will sample a selection of cheeses and beers while evaluating distinguishing characteristics of each, what makes them pair so well together, and basic pairing principles.  Meanwhile Sprecher and Hill will offer tips for designing truly delicious artisanal cheese platters and craft beer pairing parties for the holidays.

"Because we are pairing some of Wisconsin’s best craft products – cheeses from Carr Valley, Roth Kass, Widmer, Sartori with Sprecher beers – we’ll focus on the role of terroir, highlighting what makes these products unique to Wisconsin. And we’ll be doing it with two people who are among the most passionate in their respective industries. So yes, the entertainment factor will be right up there with the deliciousness factor." said Anne Sprecher, Communications Director.

Participation cost is $20 per person, which includes cheese and beer samples. Doors open at 5:30 p.m; session begins at 6 p.m. Reservations can be made online at sprecherbrewery.com, or by calling (414) 964-2739. Seating is limited.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.