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Everyone loves 'Brunch' — now downtown's premier breakfast spot

There's a new eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary spot in the Cawker Building downtown, and it has an appropriate name: Brunch.

Owner Morgan Sampson is betting that a restaurant devoted to everyone's favorite weekend meal will be successful in this as-yet-unlucky dining venue. Espana Tapas House couldn't make the location work and, most recently, Agave Southwest Bar & Grill shuttered after less than two years. Brunch will open June 25, just in time to serve up its first Saturday morning meals.

"Brunch is something that everyone can enjoy," says Sampson. "The other restaurants that occupied this space were all dinner places that were focused on one particular kind of cuisine and we're going to be a family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot. We're definitely going to break the curse of the Cawker Building."

Sampson has enlisted the culinary talents of Joe Glisch, formerly of Spin Milwaukee, Ale Asylum, and All Purpose, to cook up classic breakfast fare with a gourmet twist.

"While I enjoy cooking and I consider myself a decent cook, I'm definitely not a chef," says Sampson. "My husband and I decided to simply ask Chef Glisch if he'd be interested in working with us and he was very enthusiastic. He is a 'from scratch' kind of guy. Even our meat rubs are completely homemade."

Sampson's favorite menu item at Brunch is the steak and eggs. It's one of the pricier items, at around $22 to $25, but the 16 oz. prime rib, seasoned with a special brunch rub, is worth the cost. Sampson also raves about the avocado toast, the three varieties of eggs Benedict — one including soft-shell crab — and the fresh maple syrup that will be drizzled over breakfast standbys like pancakes and French toast. There are also numerous options for those on gluten-free and vegetarian diets.

Brunch's cheerful color scheme brightens up the corner of Plankinton and Wells, with sunshine-yellow walls designed to draw passersby into the open and airy space. In fact, during my interview with Sampson, a resident of one of the Cawker Building's condos popped in to ask when the restaurant would be opening.

During the NFL season, Sampson is hoping that football fans will kick off their Sundays around the Brunch bar, watching the 12 p.m. games (Brunch closes at 3 p.m.), drinking local beers, and admiring the collection of quirky alarm clocks that line the ledge above the TVs.

"That was my husband's touch," says Sampson. "Every day for the past month, an alarm clock has arrived on our doorstep. He's been going a little crazy on Amazon buying these quirky clocks, but it's his fun way of being part of Brunch." And fun will certainly be a big part of the culture here — staff members will be decked out in robin's-egg-blue t-shirts with "Brunch So Hard" printed on the back.

So, make sure that you set your own alarm clock to have brunch downtown Milwaukee this weekend. You may just discover your new favorite spot for everyone's favorite meal.

THE QUICK BITE

Name: Brunch

Location: 800 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee

Premise: Classic breakfast and lunch fare with gourmet, made-from-scratch flare.

Menu samples: Fried-egg-and-bacon topped brunch burger ($14); chicken and waffle sandwich ($12); steak and eggs ($22-25)

Bite-size review: Finally, a bright and cheerful breakfast and lunch spot in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee.

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