By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 07, 2023 at 1:35 PM

Ruta Kahate has lived a full life. A native of India, she’s operated six cafes in Goa, led culinary tours, and published three cookbooks, including her latest tome, “6 Spices, 60 Recipes,” which was released in January.

In 2021, she moved her family from the San Francisco Bay area to Milwaukee, where she opened Ruta’s Vibrant Indian Cafe at Crossroads Collective, in April of 2021. [Listen to Kahate talk about her storied live on the FoodCrush podcast]

Two years later, Kahate says, she’s excited to embark upon her next adventure: opening the eatery that she’s dreamed of establishing since she came to Milwaukee. 

In fact, guests can expect to see that dream come to fruition this spring at 207 W. Freshwater Way, the restaurant just around the corner from Purple Door Ice Cream.

“It was so serendipitous,” Kahate says as she describes the new location. “Walker’s Point was definitely a neighborhood I was considering for the restaurant, but we’d just started looking when the owners reached out to me.”

She says that a tour of the former Bowls Restaurant was all it took to convince her that she’d found the location she wanted. “I walked in,” she says, “And I just knew it was the perfect place.” 

What to expect

Much like its predecessor, the restaurant will offer counter service. But the look and feel of the space will take on cosmetic changes which better reflect the new concept.

“I’m excited to play with the space,” she says. “My vibe is fairly eclectic, so the space will reflect that. We’d like to create a space where people feel comfortable, not only eating a meal, but socializing or working on their laptops.” 

Kahate says she’s planning to implement a warmer color palate, along with comfortable furnishings that encourage guests to linger in the space.

As for the menu, Kahate says that she aims to continue offering a menu that caters to a variety of diners with an emphasis on fresh, simple, healthful dishes that benefit from pickled vegetables, chutneys and spices which not only enhance the flavors of the ingredients, but also offer balance.

Pickle Platter from Ruta's Cafe
Pickle Platter from Ruta's Cafe

“I have so many ideas,” she notes. “But most of all I want to continue to showcase the variety of flavors that Indian cuisine has to offer. It’s such a diverse country and there are so many ways to showcase that.”

Kahate says much of the fare will take the form of the comforting curry bowls and inventive sandwiches made with na’an flatbread that she’s showcased at the food hall. But, thanks to a larger kitchen, Kahate says she’s excited to expand the menu to include even more regional fare.

That includes bringing back a variety of salads and soups as well as creating a dedicated vegetarian and vegan menu. Guests may also see a selection of small plate style dishes, as well as baked goods like cookies.

Kahate says that, if all goes well, the new Walker’s Point restaurant could open as soon as the end of April. At that point, Ruta’s is likely to offer both lunch and dinner service.

In the meantime, guests can continue to enjoy Ruta’s fare at Crossroads Collective through March 31.

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.