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Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

Simply Good

Lake Geneva café expands to Milwaukee’s East Side

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Simple Café is open only for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is served the entire time. The establishment also attempts to “local source” as many ingredients as possible. At the popular Lake Geneva café’s new location on Milwaukee’s East Side, the décor is simple and uses bright colors. The tables are of thick wood and the chairs are sturdy. It’s a family friendly place; the two tables at the entry can both seat a dozen people.

The menu is not so simple and includes some very creative items. The most basic breakfast is the Simple buttermilk pancakes ($7.25), which are fluffy and served with the usual butter and maple syrup. On the other hand, pumpkin pancakes ($8.25) get a big dusting of cinnamon-laced powdered sugar and crumbled pumpkin seeds. Go all out and opt for the savory Korean pancakes ($8.95). These are clever creations made with puréed mung beans and rice flower and accompanied by meaty little bits of pork shoulder. They arrive with a fried egg pressed nearly as thin as the pancakes and a side of soy sauce with sesame. The flavors are pure Korean and the marriage of egg and kimchee, a wise one. The classic benedict ($9.95) is milder with the usual cast of characters—poached eggs over Canadian bacon on top of English muffins with hollandaise sauce. Perfectly good breakfast fare.

Lunch is another good reason for a visit. The sandwiches and salads are out of the ordinary. The Simple garden burger ($9.50) is a vegetarian patty that offers the creaminess of roasted garlic hummus and black beans, and the occasional crunch of walnuts. It’s served on a decent bun over greens and topped with sunflower seed sprouts and roasted red peppers. Add some sundried tomato mayo and you have a fine veggie burger. The carnitas tomatillo sandwich ($9.25) is just as complex, with primary ingredients of pulled pork, black beans and mild pico de gallo. There is also Swiss chard, kale and cabbage, plus some mozzarella and just the slight taste of the tart tomatillo sauce.

Sandwiches also include a side of red potatoes with chopped scallions. Do try the salad of smoked trout with baby spinach and roasted beets ($9.95). The spinach is dazzlingly fresh and the roasted red beets, just right. There are also sliced almonds, crumbled blue cheese and cider vinegar topped with a handful of pieces of trout with a light, smoky flavor. At first the trout seems an odd partner for the other ingredients but it’s one of many touches that make Simple Café special and different.

No alcohol is served, but there are Alterra coffee products, Sprecher sodas and a few teas. Coffee is served in large mugs. The café is proving to be an instant hit and can be a busy place. It is even drawing visitors from as far away as Lake Geneva.

Simple Café

2124 N. Farwell Ave.

(414) 271-2124

$-$$

Handicapped access: Yes