Cafe Brucke 2101 N. Prospect Avenue Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 4 PM-11 PM Friday-Saturday 4 PM-1 AM Prices: $5-7
If you happened to wander down Prospect Avenue this spring, you might have noticed the brown paper coverings in the windows of the building that formerly housed Harter’s Bakery and a note on the door announcing a new cafe. Problem is, you’d have to be fluent in German to pronounce it. Since opening June 9, owner Chris Lorch has heard more than a few customers butcher the name, Cafe Brucke. Wait a minute. Cafe what? “It’s pronounced Brew-ka,” says Lorch, “which in German literally means bridge.” While it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, Brucke is an appropriate name for an establishment that seamlessly bridges elements of a coffee house, restaurant, and bar all in one convenient location. The main attraction is the food, and Cafe Brucke delivers with a menu that includes several reasonably-priced appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, including an excellent chicken pesto sandwich. Deserts range from traditional crepes to Gateau parfait, a decadent layered cake. The cafe also boasts a selection of over 25 domestic and international brews, not to mention a variety of wines. Best of all, a trip to Cafe Brucke won’t break the bank. Sandwiches are generally around five dollars, and the drink prices are equally competitive. “We offer quality import beers for under the going rate,” says Lorch, who lives in Riverwest. She has made a conscious effort to balance the more expensive beers and wines with several affordable options. As the name suggests, Cafe Brucke exudes more of a European feel than the average bar/restaurant. The interior is clean, the tables and bar lit by candles, and the walls adorned with paintings by local artists, which Lorch intends to rotate monthly. In the late afternoon, sunlight pours in through huge, south-facing windows, a definite plus for writers and book lovers. And what would a European-style cafe be without fresh coffee and outdoor seating? Cafe Brucke has both. Lorch eagerly shows off what she considers to be cafe’s crown jewel, an authentic Belgian draft tower, a unique device that shoots water into a pint glass, cooling it and rinsing it of detergents and impurities to improve the taste of a draft beer. Says Lorch, “It’s the only one of its kind in Milwaukee.” Cafe Brucke is a unique, affordable destination, and definitely worth consideration for those in search of an inviting atmosphere and an affordable, eclectic menu.