Sophie Bolich

Bay View’s Sisu Cafe Adds Dinner Service

Finnish-inspired coffee shop will transform into a classic steakhouse three nights a week.

By - Nov 23rd, 2022 09:51 am
Site of Sisu Cafe. Photo taken Nov. 23, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Sisu Cafe. Photo taken Nov. 23, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Sisu Cafe, a Nordic-inspired coffee shop in Bay View, plans to expand its offerings as well as its hours, transforming into an old school-style steakhouse three nights per week.

After opening the cafe at 2121 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. earlier this year, co-owner Francisco Sanchez said the business “dictated its own path,” which led to the decision to add a dinner service.

John Ruben Piirainen is the other co-owner of Sisu. The partners also own Sabrosa Cafe & Gallery.

Starting Saturday, Nov. 26, the business will transform from casual cafe into polished eatery — think white tablecloths, candlelight, live music and sharply-dressed waitstaff. Dinner services will be held Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Local Ingredients, Nordic Flair

The menu will be concise, according to Sanchez, who said the simplicity will allow its “creme de la creme” selections to shine.

The restaurant’s Nordic-influence is immediately noticeable in its alkuruoat, or starters. Light, flavorful bites such as roasted cauliflower and carrot hummus, creamy baked goat cheese and Norwegian smoked salmon with rye crackers and picked vegetables invite diners to awaken their appetites in preparation for the main event.

True to its title, the steakhouse will feature three, high-end cuts of locally-sourced, wet-aged steaks. The 16 oz bone-in ribeye ($38), 16 oz bone-in porterhouse ($36) and 8 oz bacon-wrapped tenderloin ($32) are all cooked-to-order and accompanied by the diner’s choice of specialty side.

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, creamy scalloped potatoes, parmesan potato skins, sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions, roasted brussels sprouts with dijon hollandaise, creamy risotto and others are among the side options.

Additional entrees include atlantic salmon linguine, lingonberry and roasted apple pork chop, spatchcock chicken and, for a vegetarian option, portabella parmesan risotto.

A wine list, curated by Dan Grenda of Capitol-Husting, will be expertly paired with each dish.

Sanchez, who will take on the role of bartender, said he is also excited to introduce a lineup of cocktails to accompany both brunch and dinner service. The restaurant will also offer happy hour specials.

The Lonkero, a Finnish drink, combines gin, lingonberry juice, grapefruit soda and lemon. The Puolukka Martini features locally-made Good Land orange liqueur, cognac, lemon juice and an orange twist garnish.

A classic sidecar, bourbon old fashioned, strawberry daiquiri, negroni and pomegranate cosmopolitan round out the evening cocktail options.

At brunch, diners can expect the classic offerings, including mimosas and bloody marys.

In creating the menu, Sanchez said he strived to offer the highest quality while remaining accessible and affordable. After conducting a survey of potential customers, Sanchez found that the majority of respondents “love going to steakhouses,” but feel like they can’t afford to visit often. Sisu’s dinner program attempts to overcome that hesitation.

Day to Night

As the dining area transitions from brunch to dinner service, guests will also notice a visual shift in the space. Sanchez said he aims to emulate the luxurious feel of a classic steakhouse with simple details such as dim lighting, floor lamps, and crisp, white tablecloths. The large, floor-to-ceiling windows that make the cafe so welcoming in the daylight will be draped with curtains, creating a cozy, intimate setting. Waitstaff will also look the part, outfitted in polished black shoes and white aprons, Sanchez added.

Sanchez also reconfigured the cafe space to create room for a full bar, removing the bakery case and adding seating and a statement painting to the wall behind the bar. Piirainen created the painting, which was inspired by Finnish designer Marimekko.

Sisu’s capacity is 40 guests, so dinner reservations are strongly recommended. To make a reservation, visit the Sisu Cafe website.

The restaurant is located adjacent to a parking lot, where it has 70 reserved parking spaces for guests.

Cafe hours will stay the same: Tuesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Starting Nov. 26, dinner hours will be Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us