By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Jul 14, 2016 at 9:01 AM

We've had the special opportunity to cover the progress of the Bartolotta-managed restaurants at the Mayfair Collection from start to finish, including their design and build-out. And after months of meetings, design conversations and construction, the second of the three restaurants is preparing to open.

Cafe Grace will open on Tuesday, July 19 at 11200 W. Burleigh St., and we got an exclusive peek at the finished product, along with a glimpse into the journey to completion.

The journey

For eight weeks, we made weekly trips to the construction site to take note of the progress being made on the restaurant. And here's a bit on the transformation we witnessed.

The menu

The menu, which was designed by Bartolotta’s managing partner and corporate chef Adam Siegel, in collaboration with Executive Chef Zach Espinosa and Chef de Cuisine Klayton Mutchler, mimics the offerings you might find at both classic and modern Parisian bistros or cafés, including soups, salads, sandwiches and entrees.

Highlights include gougeres (cheese puffs) filled with Emmi Roth Grand Cru fondue, mussels with saffron cream sauce and Salad Lyonnaise featuring lardons, frisee and a poached egg. You’ll also find classic Soupe a l’oignon with rich stock and sweet caramelized onions.

The kitchen boasts Josper ovens, which will be used to cook burgers as well as the steak to accompany steak frites. There is also a rotisserie (see it operating in the video above), which will be used to roast chickens and lamb, along with vegetables like cauliflower and potatoes.

Meanwhile, a raw bar will sport three types of oysters, including East Coast, West Coast and specialty varieties.

Menu pricing ranges from $5-$12 for appetizers and $20-30 for entrees with sandwiches falling in the $15 range.

On the sweeter side, chef Stephanie Fisher will be putting out desserts like lemon tarts, pot de creme and profiteroles, priced in the $6-7 range.

At the bar, there will be wine (of course). But there will also be an absinthe fountain from which customers can enjoy Rehorst Verte and Amerique 1912 served up in the traditional fashion – adorned with droplets of iced water that are funneled from the fountain, over a spoon cupping a sugar cube and into the absinthe below. A cocktail list will also sport four cocktails containing the infamous "green fairy," an elixir that was popular in France, especially among writers and artists, during the mid-1800s.

The space

In many ways, Cafe Grace will emulate the look and feel of a cafe you might find on the bustling streets of Paris. The exterior sports white brick and black and white striped awnings. Meanwhile, the interior is bright and airy, thanks to myriad windows.

In terms of decor, you’ll find bright brass fixtures set against neutral, muted tones. White tablecloths adorn the tables, making them stand out against dark-stained wood and richly colored burgundy upholstered banquettes.

On the floors, you’ll find tiles emblazoned with the classic fleur de lis pattern, emblematic of French royalty and the the tenets of perfection, light and life.

You’ll also find a private dining area and event space, affectionately known as The Library. The room, which seats 40, sports walls featuring bookshelf wallpaper and pretty vintage light fixtures.

The restaurant is more formal than either of the other two Mayfair Collection concepts (ABV Social and El Jefe), boasting an elegant feel. But it’s not so elegant that you couldn’t show up to dine in a pair of your nicer jeans.

Cafe Grace seats 84 indoors and will also feature a relatively spacious patio accommodating an additional 20-plus guests.

The Cafe will open at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19, with regular dinner service beginning at 5 p.m. From there, hours will be 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch will be served starting in early August, beginning at 11 a.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.