TMN Restaurant Review: Café Hollander in ‘Tosa

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Sitting in the sun, munching on a strip of bacon that was garnishing my second Bloody Mary, I feel a strong connection to my surroundings. “Of course you do,” you may say. “You just finished your second Bloody!”

It is much more than that. The Cafe Hollander is located in the quaint and storied commercial area of Wauwatosa that we like to call “Tosa Time Square.” This restaurant-rich region, located at the intersection of State Street and Menomonee River Parkway, has been the source of many happy, high times for this reporter – and has provided a few dips and disappointments as well.

Ristorante Bartolotta, directly across the street, is the happy anchor of the square. A long history of memorable meals, wines and events will keep us returning here regardless of the neighbors. Over the walking bridge to the south is Firefly, a sad shadow of the once brilliant Bjonda, a restaurant/lounge that may have aimed too high for the neighborhood. It now aims considerably lower, cloaking its former elegance in the trappings of a sports bar, with a hideous exterior banner announcing it as “an Urban Bar & Grill” where “Kids Eat Free.” There’s the Chancery just to the east, which has occasionally provided badly needed late-night food and beverage, and a Noodles to the north, which hasn’t.

The Café Hollander Tosa Village brings a considerable boost to the area, boasting the same warm, casual atmosphere and excellent imported beer selection that makes its Milwaukee Downer Avenue location a pleasure to frequent. After several visits, including Friday Happy Hours and a Sunday Brunch, we can declare one more great reason to make a regular trek from Mequon – or anywhere in Metro Milwaukee – to Tosa Time Square.

BEER
The beer list is extensive, with fresh, distinctive imports served carefully at the right temperature in the right glass to satisfy diverse and choosy palettes.

BLOODIES
A healthy selection of well-made cocktails that go down easy as a Sunday morning. The Milwaukeean features locally made Rehorst Vodka, cheese and bacon – say no more.

BRUNCH PLATES
The best of our party’s selection: Florentine Benedict stacked egg and Hollanaise upon a perfectly cooked bed of spinach and an English muffin as well toasted as I was.
The Veggie Omelet seems to have been made with the mistaken assumption that veggies should outweigh egg 3:1.
The Benelux Pancakes were pancakes. Thin and adequate with no discernible personality.

THE SERVICE
Brunch service to a large, bustling, hungry, thirsty, indoor/outdoor crowd was admirable and personable.
Happy Hour service has been a bit spotty – one young fellow particularly short of memory and slow of foot compensated with sincere embarrassment and dramatic apologies. The pouring, however, has always been as clean, crisp and precise as a hospital corner. By showing such respect for their beer, they have earned mine.

THE CROWD
One need not be too concerned about attire – the crowd is classic Tosa, including a smattering of business casual, a few trend-conscious hipsters, a lot of cargo shortsters and family scramblers, and the essential percentage of bizarre Milwaukee jawdroppers that make people-watching so rewarding.
Relax and come as you are – and try not to be such a judgmental snob!

In TMN’s unique 20-star rating system, Café Hollander Tosa Village receives 14 1/2 stars.img_0058

 

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