Cari Taylor-Carlson

Story Hill BKC Is a Puzzle

We had one great meal, and one mediocre one. Which is the real restaurant?

By - Dec 30th, 2014 10:06 am
Story Hill BKC. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Story Hill BKC. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

It’s rare when I visit a restaurant and leave with a rave, only to return a second time and be disappointed. How is that possible?

First let me explain the name. It’s Story Hill BKC, the initials standing for Bottle, Kitchen, Cup. The restaurant sits dead center in the Story Hill neighborhood, on 51st and Bluemound, a location not replete with interesting restaurants. That alone makes BKC unique, as well as a destination restaurant, albeit one with easy freeway access from Hawley Road off I 94.

An aborted visit happened on a Sunday. We arrived at noon only to discover a disappointing, one-hour wait for a table for three.

We return on Monday at noon. They seat us immediately. We’re struck by the cheerful light flowing in through large windows and the contemporary vibe in the bar, with its high-seated tables, while reclaimed wooden tables add a rustic touch in the dining room. Bright-colored pillows and cushions on the wood benches are appreciated for their added comfort.

Now we’re in the mood for something different, unusual, something to generate excitement on the plate. Since we know BKC has siblings, Blue’s Egg and Maxie’s, we anticipate creative choices and we are not disappointed.

At 12:00 we have two menus to choose from, the all-day menu, with breakfast/brunch served until 2:00 pm, and the midday menu, basically lunch, served Monday to Friday 11:00 to 2:00. From the all-day, we order the Breakfast Loaf, two thick slices of house-made sausage loaf, two baked eggs, broccoli rabe salad, and rustic toast. No complaints except the sausage loaf, like meatloaf, should have been served warm. That’s a minor quibble as the eggs are exemplary, perfectly presented sunny side up, and the broccoli rabe salad, with yellow raisins and pine nuts in a light lemon vinaigrette, is a delicious addition to the egg dish.

“Everything is so pretty,” my friend says as the lunch spread arrives. Her Cream of Wild Rice Soup, made with the requisite cream and butter, tastes of wild mushrooms and a faint hint of chive.

From the midday menu we order No Bones About It, braised country rib sandwich with squash and cabbage relish, and for an added kick, jalapeno mayo. The tiny bits of sweet squash in the relish coupled with crunchy cabbage set off the heat in the mayo. An ample serving of tender, juicy meat in the bun leaves enough for a take-home meal.

Sandwiches come with a choice of sides. Here’s where the midday menu gets interesting. There are four sides: Marinated Beets, Roast Cauliflower Salad, the aforementioned Rabe Salad that comes with the Breakfast Loaf, and Roasted New Potatoes. There’s not a ubiquitous French fry in sight, not even a sweet potato fry, just a single nod to tradition with the roasted potatoes, but with a twist, shallot butter.

The chunky, house-roasted beets, topped with Clock Shadow Quark, star mini strips of mint. The beets are spicy, sweet and sour, and leave a lingering taste of peppermint. As for the Cauliflower Salad, I could eat it for breakfast every day for a month. Served cold, it comes with plump house-dried tomatoes, basil, chili flakes, and montamore, a mild creamy cheese with a tart bite. We order it as a separate side and get a large bowl of deliciousness.

But things aren’t quite so delicious when I return later in the week for a second visit. The Potato Farmer and the Sirloin Steak Sandwiches are sub par. The steak is tough, chewy, partially inedible, and the Potato Farmer, a disaster on a roll. It’s shaved house-smoked pork with pickles, gravy, and a potato pancake. The problem is, the pancake is inside, not outside the bun. When my friend bites into her sandwich, it immediately self-destructs, leaving a messy pile of potato shreds and very little meat.

At the same time, we watch the couple at the next table devour Baked French Toast Bread Pudding. We eavesdrop to learn these happy diners will return soon for more. A good sign.

In addition to brunch and lunch, BKC has a special menu that fills the gap between lunch and dinner. That’s when customers can order Raclette, Smoked Whitefish Salad, Pizzettas, and more in the bar. At 5:00 they serve from an extensive dinner menu that lists Tastes, Shares, and Passes. A taste might be Steamed Walleye with Creamy Parsnip Puree; a share might be Oxtail Stew with Sweet Pearl Onions; a pass might be Almond Crusted Artic Char with Central Greens, Basil, and Tomato Jam.

Bottom line, after two visits at lunch time, the beet, cauliflower, and rabe sides won our vote.  We also found reasonable prices, a menu for adventurous diners, excellent service, and, despite the glitches, we agreed this new kid on Bluemound will likely be around for a long time.

On the Menu

Story Hill BKC
5100 W. Bluemound Rd.

Sunday 9:00-2:00 pm
Monday 7:00-2:00 pm
Tuesday-Thursday 7:00-10:00 pm
Friday 7:00-11:00 pm
Saturday 9:00-11:00 pm


0 thoughts on “Dining: Story Hill BKC Is a Puzzle”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I LOVE BKC!! I’ve been several times, and on each occasion been thrilled with the food, service, and the selection of available beer. Sounds like the writer’s meal was an unfortunate anomaly….

  2. Anonymous says:

    The oxtail stew won as my favorite dish eaten in 2014. So far in 3 visits everything has been flawless. The Potato Farmer sounded too carb heavy for me to order but its a shame it didn’t work for you. Places like La Merenda, Story Hill BKC, and Odd Duck get a pass from me if something unique doesn’t work as I love their risk taking.

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