By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published May 24, 2004 at 5:44 AM

{image1}The Bistro at the Onopa Brewing Company, 735 E. Center St., is a delicious marriage of healthy food and beer. Owner and head chef Andrew Bechaud's vision was to mix as much of Onopa's product into his recipes and to offer healthy, affordable food with sizable portions.

Overall, Bechaud's menu is mostly vegetarian and vegan, with white meat and seafood options, but not a shred of beef or pork.

Friday evenings are the busiest, featuring a fish fry of cod or perch, complete with a salad and roasted red potatoes for $8. The Riverwest Accordion Club often squeezes during mealtime.

"Friday nights got popular really fast," says the 34-year-old Riverwesterner who graduated from MATC culinary school and studied under the late John Marangelli of Marangelli's al Lago.

Bechaud mixes Onopa's beer into the batter, and the spent grain from the brewing process into the bread that's served with the fish.

Pizza is a prominent item on the Bistro's menu, offering cheese, chicken sausage, margarita and vegan pies. They range in price from $5.50 for cheese to $9.50 for chicken sausage. The pizza dough includes Onopa's oatmeal stout and is made into pies that are roughly 11 inches.

"We roll the dough ourselves so they are never exactly the same sizes," says Bechaud.

Other menu items include French onion soup ($4.50) -- made with Onopa's oatmeal stout or pale ale -- eggplant parmesan ($4.50) and "puff balls," which are deep-fried pastry dough puffs folded with soy pepperoni and Parmesan cheese for $5.50.

The Bistro also features a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. All brunch items range between $4.50-$8, with menu options like French toast made from the special beer grain bread, huevos rancheros, vegan wraps and organic egg plates.

Onopa is a large bar and restaurant that's able to accommodate approximately 130 diners when the weather cooperates and the beer garden is open.

"It's been steadily getting busier and busier," says Bechaud. "Going into a place with a set clientele really helped us out."

The Bistro at Onopa Brewing Company is open Monday-Thursday from 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday from 5-11 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for brunch; 5-10 p.m. for dinner. On Thursday-Saturday it also features a late-night pizza menu until close.

For more information, call (414) 263-3630.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.