hankr sneaks a peek at Bartolotta's new French bistro, Cafe Grace

On Thursday evening, with pleasant temperatures and a bit of a breeze fueling our culinary spirits, we were happy to have a chance to review some of the forthcoming menu items at Cafe Grace, which opens to the public on Tuesday. 

The French bistro-styled restaurant run by The Bartolotta Restaurants group is located at the Mayfair Collection, which is just off of Hwy 45 on Burleigh Street in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. 

Cafe Grace, along with Taqueria El Jefe and ABV Social are lead by Executive Chef Zachary Espinosa.

 Executive Chef Zachary Espinosa

Executive Chef Zachary Espinosa

Attending with me, team members Rachel, Amy and Jeff tried and shared several dishes at the test event.

First up was the Pate de Volaille, which features a rich chicken liver pate with cherry preserves and toasted baguettes. 

Next up, we all tried the Salade Lyonnaise, which was a delicate balance of frisee lettuce with bacon lardons, mustard-sherry vinaigrette, poached egg and a pate' crout.  

Following the salade, we all tested the following dishes, which were all impressive to say the least. 

Le Cafe Burger is a Strauss Farms grass-fed beef with choice of brie or gruyere cheeses, Belgian mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. As a note, this comes with a petit salad or French Fries (which are not pictured).

The Poulet de Ferme is slow-cooked on Cafe Grace's in-house Woodstone vertical rotisserie, which is very impressive to see. This dish is herb and citrus marinated chicken with roasted cauliflower. From past conversations with Chef Espinosa, we have learned that roasted cauliflower is one of his favorite dishes...according to him, it's a go-to favorite for his own family. 

Also slow-cooked on Cafe Grace's in-house Woodstone vertical rotisserie is the Gigot D'Agneau, which also comes from Strauss farms and is a leg of lamb with braised flageolet beans and roasted cauliflower. 

As our dishes were presented at our table, the following dish was underestimated by us. Reading the menu, we thought it might be a simple grilled ham and cheese, but we were proven wrong nearly immediately. The Croque Madame was our table's favorite dish of the evening. The toast was outstanding and the combination of flavors was truly memorable. The dish is a griddled ham and gruyere cheese sandwich on toasted bread with Mornay sauce and a sunny side-up egg. 

In the next two weeks, our team will return to Cafe Grace when the menu is finalized to do our official hankr photoshoot to add at least 15 of Chef Espinosa and his team's dishes to hankr. We are always thrilled to help restaurants showcase their great food through quality, true-to-life photos. In an industry that features true artists, we are happy to give people a tool to see food before they pick a restaurant. Dots on a map or someone else's written review can't do any of these dishes, or the Chef's skill, true justice. We would never buy shoes or a shirt without seeing it first, why would we do that with food?

*As a side note, not pictured are dessert selections Gateau Au Chocolat and Profiteroles...we were so excited to try them, we totally forgot to snap photos before diving in. Trust us, they look, and taste, amazing. 

Cafe Grace will open to the public on Tuesday, July 19 at 3:00 p.m., with regular dinner service beginning at 5:00 p.m. that day.

Starting on Wednesday, July 20, hours will be:
3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday
3:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday
Lunch will begin in early August starting at 11:00 a.m.

Stay tuned for more updates from this and other great restaurants in Milwaukee, Madison and more outstanding cities soon.