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Chef/owner Peter Sandroni talks about menu inspiration and the firehouse theme, and prepares one of his favorite dishes.

Restaurateur Peter Sandroni spends a lot of time contemplating food, especially now that he has a second restaurant, Engine Company No. 3 (217 W. National Ave.). Engine Company is focused on meals served when the sun comes up – breakfast and lunch – in the Cream City brick and red-trimmed backdrop of an old fire station in Walker’s Point.

On paper, Engine Company seems a far cry from the international small-plates theme of its sister, La Merenda, located just a few blocks east (125 E. National Ave.). Not so. As Sandroni explains in this video, since opening Engine Company he’s put more emphasis on the global side of the restaurant’s menu based on feedback from his diners. One of the featured dishes – you can watch Sandroni prepare it in the video – is a Filipino-inspired specialty of vegetable fried rice, ginger-spiced sausage and a sunny side-up egg. Another is the Colombian patacon con huevo, with smashed plantain, cilantro rice and hogao (a sauce).

But the global motif doesn’t overtake the menu. There’s plenty of American breakfast staples like eggs made your way; pancakes with – the local connection is important to Sandroni – Wisconsin butter and syrup; and oatmeal served with Sassy cow milk and local dried fruit. And since the hours carry over to lunch, there are also salads and sandwiches like the marinated roast Maple Creek Farms pork, with pickles and sweet-and-sour cabbage on Troubadour Bakery ciabatta. The building (which dates to 1904) also has a full bar for the Bloody Mary- and mimosa-drinking masses. To see more menu items, click here.

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Given the building’s history as a former firehouse, it’s not a surprise that Sandroni was approached by the Milwaukee Fire Department Historical Society to display period artifacts from MFD history. Those pieces include old photographs and badges, fire hats and a hose, an oxygen mask and a life safety net.

Video by Henry Willette.

See more videos behind the scenes at Vanguard, Honeypie and Meritage.

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