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There’s officially a new spot to grab your morning cup of coffee, a wide variety of pastries, plus breakfast and lunch in Bay View.
Sisu Cafe, the new counter service cafe from Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery owners Chef Francisco Sanchez and Ruben Piirainen, has officially opened its doors at 2121 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
The new cafe, which pays homage to both Piirainen’s Finnish background, offers up a very different aesthetic from Sabrosa, reflecting the quiet simplicity of forms and lines inherent to Finnish design.
The counter service cafe features accommodations for about 20 guests in the main dining area, with additional seating near the service counter and bakery case.
Take a peek at the dining room's chalkboard and you'll find information about daily specials and events, but also a daily Finnish language lesson and the meaning of the word sisu (pronounced SEE' soo), which embodies Finnish fortitude and the demonstration of "extraordinary courage and resoluteness in the face of adversity."
Guests who place an order at the counter for dine-in will receive a card to take to their tables. Unlike the normal numbered cards, Sisu's feature a letter, a picture and the Finnish word which corresponds to both.
Current coffee service at the cafe features hot coffee and cold brew, though the menu will be expanded to include a full complement of espresso drinks as soon as the cafe’s espresso machine arrives. Other beverages include juices, milk and agua fresca in flavors like lemon, watermelon-lime and jamaica.
Meanwhile, the bakery case features a selection of housemade offerings including scones, cinnamon and pecan rolls and korvapuusti, a Finnish cinnamon pastry infused with cardamom and topped with pearl sugar.
Menus behind the counter display the cafe’s offerings, which include breakfast items (priced $7-$10) including Icelandic yogurt parfaits; hot muesli with housemade granola, honey, dried fruit and cinnamon; chorizo and egg tacos; a vegetarian breakfast pasty; and breakfast sandwiches including a croissant with spicy brown sugar bourbon bacon, fried egg, cheddar and sour cream and a bagel sandwich featuring guest’s choice of bagel with glazed ham, scrambled eggs and pepperjack cheese.
For lunch, guests can choose from options like a traditional ground beef pasty; German egg salad toast; and an open-face roasted vegetable muffaletta featuring potato, rutabaga, carrots, zucchini, spinach and sun-dried tomato cream cheese with giardiniera on housemade focaccia.
Sandwiches include a sloppy joe; chicken croquette panini with a ground chicken patty, ham, swiss, lettuce and dijon; a club sandwich; tomato grilled cheese with spicy brown sugar bacon on a croissant; and a crispy bbq cod sandwich featuring bbq potato chip crusted cod and bbq aioli on a house roll with apple kale slaw on the side. Lunch options are priced in the $9-$12 range with most at $10.
Soups, salads and sandwiches will also be available in the cafe's grab-and-go case. They can be eaten as-is, taken to go, or heated (if applicable) and enjoyed at the cafe.
The cafe is expected to evolve as it achieves its stride, as well as a liquor license. Additions are expected to include seated brunch (with an expanded menu) on Sundays, as well as the addition of outdoor patio seating.
For now, guests should watch for specials like chilaquiles, which will be on the breakfast menu this weekend. Guests can also stop by on Sundays for Sisu Cafe's Hot Meat Market featuring glazed ham, beef cheeks, barbacoa and carnitas, all available by the pound with rolls or tortillas.
The cafe is also available as a rental space for private parties during the evening hours. Even better, the new cafe has access to the adjacent parking lot, which accommodates 70 vehicles, so both regular customers and guests at events will have plenty of options for easy parking.
Sisu Cafe is open seven days a week with hours Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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.