Belgium in Bay View: Cafe Centraal

Another cool spot at the intersection of KK and Lincoln is Café Centraal. Part of the Diablos Rojos restaurant group, who also owns Trocadero and Café Hollander, Café Centraal hosts Bay View’s largest dinning room. The ambiance is open and the décor, rustic. You’ll dine at sturdy wooden tables, while sitting in wicker chairs (a step up from the kind you’d see on someone’s front porch). Large wooden barrels are scattered amongst the tables, and lined along the extensive wrap around bar are mismatched stools (over 35 different styles in all). Towards the back of the restaurant is an old garage door that, when opened, reveals a patio/beer garden which patrons can use November through March. Ok, you caught me. The patio’s not open in the dead of winter, but if it were, I’m sure some sconnies (with thick liquor coats of coarse) would enjoy a beer or two out there.

The chairs are adopted (shhh they dont know!)

The chairs are adopted (shhh they dont know!)

Now, the menu is very similar to its northern brother, Café Hollander; but, that isn’t a bad thing. The food here has a Belgian flare, as does the beer. They have a bunch of great appetizers, including mussels (prepared 3 ways) and frites (fancy shmancy French fries). Sandwiches, entrees and salads follow, with my favorite being the Benelux Meatloaf. While I usually prefer caramelized ketchup instead of gravy on my loaf, their Au Jus Ale gravy is really flavorful. The classic Quiche Loraine is also stellar, and has a really great tender crust; all too often quiche’s crusts (including my own, I hate to admit) are soggy.

Can't go wrong wih blue neon.

Can't go wrong wih blue neon.

The star here is not the food, but the alcohol (which I am quickly learning to be the case with many Milwaukee eating establishments). Café Centraal has 23 (+ or – a few specials) tap beers and over 60 bottled/caned beers. What most people don’t know is that different beers, like wines, should be served in a glass particular to the type of beer; and, Centraal prides itself on “correctly” serving each bubbly brew. Unlike Sugar Maple, they do have some of those “familiar” beers like Bud Light, Miller Light and Corona; but, you deserve a slap on the wrist if you order one of these “dull” beers and fail to take advantage of Centraal’s vast selection.

Last but not least, are the Bloody Marys. On Saturdays and Sundays, Centraal serves brunch. The Napoleon Dynamite I had was heart attack delicious; pancakes topped with fried eggs, bacon, Belgian beer sauce, with a dollop of whipped cream, all swimming in maple syrup. But the BM is what stole a little piece of my heart that day. I ordered The Southsider, which had Absolut pepper vodka, hot sauce and jalapeno stuffed olives, but they have 3 others… The Traditional (which is just what you think it is), The Frenchie (which has French vodka, Dijon mustard and blu cheese stuffed olives) and the Milwaukeean (with local Rehorst vodka, beer, bacon and cheese). Café Centraal is workin real hard to smash all those preconceived notions about bloodies being bland!

So now you can plan a wonderful Saturday in Bay View with out leaving the intersection of KK and Lincoln: an early Brunch at Café Centraal, a beer at Sugar Maple, a light lunch at Lulu’s; and, you will STILL have time to hit up Bed Bath and Beyond before dinner!

Café Centraal

2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
Bay View, WI 53207

(414) 755-0377

Atmosphere: Casual/ Rustic

Price: 5-20 bucks

Serving: Lunch, Dinner Desert, Drinks and Sunday/Saturday Brunch


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