From Little Lee

Breakfast in Milwaukee? Yes, please.

If you would have asked me a few months ago what I knew about Milwaukee, the only thing I would have conjured up would have been, Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated! because Laverne & Shirley is only thing I would have known about that city…until a I took my first trip to the beautiful Midwest this past fall.I always wanted an L on my shirts!

Incidentally, Laverne & Shirley wasn’t even filmed in Milwaukee…bummer.

I wasn’t able to spend much time in Milwaukee (sigh), but it’s a city I’d definitely visit again. I learned that Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin and has a vibrant theater community, including one of the nation’s most successful theaters — Milwaukee Repertory Theater. For those of you who are unimpressed with that bit of information…Milwaukee has a great Riverwalk, the Delta Airlines Convention Center and Miller Park Stadium. Still not floating your boat? Well, check this out: Milwaukee is the home of Harley Davidson. Now, you gotta admit, that is cool.

Original Harley Davidson factory in Milwaukee.

Clearly, I’m a big fan…now, onto Café at the Plaza. I mention the bustling theater community because The Plaza Hotel & Apartments (where Café at the Plaza is housed) is the home-away-from-home for many actors and performers, keeping the hotel and Café very, very busy. So busy, in fact, that I had to use the Director of Sales and Marketing’s office for my interview with their Executive Chef Christopher Stoye.

And, first…I would like to thank Carole Barnum and Chef Chris for their hospitality and for making my trip to Milwaukee so worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my delicious visit.Chef Christopher Stoye and one happy (stuffed) lady

Walking into The Plaza Hotel & Apartments is like walking right back into the Roaring 20s…and it’s no wonder, considering the building was built back in 1925.

Now, I found this kinda cool…it was originally a women only apartment building. In fact, the Café’s current location was originally a tea room/lounge. This is where The Plaza’s female tenants would entertain their male companions back in the day (because the men weren’t allowed in their rooms). What’s more, soldiers would come back from the war to visit their girlfriends and they would outfit the lounge with cots for the soldiers’ stay. Love it.Yep, those are ceiling tiles.

The decor is entrenched in art deco. From the wall sconces to the floor tiles, every detail harkens back to a time of flappers and speakeasies. But fortunately, for diners…the kitchen is most definitely 21st century – perfect to keep up with the pace of this busy establishment.Okay, it's light fixture...but come on, it's gorgeous! Amazing details... Loved the stained glass in this door...

Onto the menu…which was filled with unique items like Sherried Black Truffle Eggs (Three eggs softly baked with a touch of sherry vinegar, black truffle oil and gruyere cheese) and Ginger Stuffed French Toast (Two pieces of egg bread stuffed with honey ginger cream cheese served with a strawberry rhubarb compote). Pause for reaction.

What I was privileged to eat was an off-the-menu item since the Café’s menus are seasonal. The dish that originally caught my eye was their Vanilla Malt French Toast and fortunately, they had it as a special on the day I arrived.Vanilla Malt French Toast (minus the Banana Milk Jam)

So, if you’re reading this blog, you’re a lover of breakfast and, therefore, familiar French Toast. Right? The Café’s Vanilla Malt French Toast takes the traditional French Toast to a fun and delightful place. It begins with egg bread dipped in a vanilla malt egg mixture. Yum. Then, it’s griddled to perfection. Chef Chris then has the audacity to stuff the vanilla malted griddled bread with a vanilla malt cream cheese…and he doesn’t stop there! In season, he serves the Vanilla Malt French Toast with a surprisingly scrumptious banana milk jam. Yes, banana milk jam.

When I think of jam I think of traditional jam flavors like grape, strawberry and boysenberry. But, banana milk? It was perfection. I’m not sure if pureeing bananas makes them more flavorful, but whatever Chef Chris did with them made my mouth jump for joy. It was like a burst of fresh banana flavor…and that, combined with the subtle mixture of vanilla and malt, made for a breakfast that was out of this world!

When you’re in Milwaukee, make it easy on yourself and just stay at The Plaza Hotel & Apartments…it’s a quick, easy walk to breakfast.

Café at the Plaza is located 1007 N. Cass Street, Milwaukee, WI. They’re open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., seven days a week. You can check them out online at

I am Lee Rice, the Founder and Official Eater for Little Lee's BREAKFAST IN AMERICA - an social media campaign to find America's FAVORITE breakfast spots. Join me!

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