By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 22, 2022 at 11:04 AM

Sisu Cafe, the Finnish-themed breakfast and lunch spot at 2121 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., has announced that it will be adding dinner service starting Saturday, Nov. 26.

But it won’t be just any dinner service.

For three evenings every week (Thursday through Saturday), owners Francisco Sanchez and Ruben Piirainen, who also operate Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery, will be transitioning the vibe in the space from a bright, casual daytime cafe to an upscale classic steakhouse, complete with dim lighting, tablecloths, elevated table service, after-dinner drinks and a menu of appetizers, steaks, entrees and sides.

Bright cafe dining roomX

“Our goal is to offer old school fine dining that’s still hip and approachable,” notes Sanchez of the launch. “We want to really keep the price point affordable, but really offer people something that we don’t have in the neighborhood.” 

On the menu

The menu at Sisu Steakhouse will include classic steakhouse fare with a touch of Finnish inflection that befits the cafe’s theme.

Guests can indulge in appetizers like salmon wasa featuring Norwegian smoked salmon on swedish rye crackers with caper dill cream cheese, gherkins, shaved green onion, and carrot cucumber salad ($15); escargots crostini served with tomato jam, brandy butter and lime aioli ($12) and baked kutunjuusto featuring creamy goat cheese baked with tomato sauce & bread crumbs; served with wasa crackers & bread ($10).

Steaks, which will be sourced from Buddy’s Meat Market in Bay View, will be cooked to order and served with a choice of one side dish. Choices include: 16-ounce bone-in ​​ribeye ($38); 16-ounce bone-in porterhouse ($36) or 8-ounce boneless bacon-wrapped tenderloin ($32).

Sides include roasted garlic mashed potatoes; scalloped potatoes; parmesan potato skins; pommes frites; risotto; sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions; bacon-fried spinach; or roasted brussels sprouts with dijon hollandaise (priced $6-$8 when ordered a la carte).

Meanwhile, entrees will include pan seared salmon with linguini ($28); pan-seared pork shoulder steak with garlic, herbs spiced roasted apples, lingonberry sauce and a choice of sides ($24); pan-seared half chicken with garlic, herbs, bacon-fried spinach and sherry mushroom cream, plus the choice of one side ($25) or portabella mushroom risotto ($19 or $27 with the addition of chicken).

A well-curated wine list and curated collection of house cocktails will round out the experience.

Happy hour & after dinner drinks

To accommodate the new evening concept, Sanchez says they’ve removed the long bakery case from the front of the restaurant, converting the area into counter seating for daytime traffic and a fully operational bar on weekend evenings.

Counter will become a barX

“We want people to be able to come in and enjoy a cocktail or glass of wine before dinner,” he says, “Or linger afterwards for an after-dinner drink.”

To that end, Sisu Steakhouse will host happy hour Thursday through Saturday evenings between 5 and 6 p.m. featuring a variety of cocktails including the lonkero (gin, lingonberry juice, grapefruit soda and lemon); along with a classic sidecar, strawberry daiquiri, negroni and pomegranate cosmopolitan.  

After dinner drinks will include classics like the Brandy Alexander, grasshopper, Irish coffee and a mocha Smith & Kearns, along with a variety of cordials and digestifs.

“We are super excited about this next phase for Sisu,” notes Sanchez. “And we can’t wait to see the concept take off.”

Beginning Saturday, Nov. 26, Sisu Steakhouse will be open Thursday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.  Reservations are highly recommended and can be made online.

Sanchez says they plan for the steakhouse to be open on Christmas Eve to accommodate diners looking for a festive, old school spot to celebrate the holiday.

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.