In a restored Downtown storefront, a couple puts their all into a little restaurant beauty they call Amilinda.
The asparagus is smooth – truly a pâté, as the menu describes it – spread on crusty sliced bread, the green contrasting with shredded pickled kohlrabi and milky-hued Landmark Anabasque cheese. The appeal of this beauty is catching. The same first-course item appears on a few other nearby tables at Portuguese- and Spanish-inspired Amilinda. Nothing – not the servers’ interactions with diners, not how scraped-clean the plates are – escapes the notice of head chef/co-owner Gregory León, whose kitchen the staff has jokingly dubbed the Fish Bowl for its visibility.
After a few years of doing occasional pop-up dinners at restaurants like The National and losing hope of opening a full-service restaurant, Gregory and his business partner and husband, Orry León, took a chance earlier this year on an East Wisconsin Avenue storefront badly in need of a renovator. All it took was Gregory seeing the stove hood left from a previous tenant while he and Orry were walking past the building one day.
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Amilinda 315 E. Wisconsin Ave., 414-369-3683. Hours: Dinner, Tues-Sat. Prices: Entrées $19-$23. Service: Enthusiastic; knowledgeable; staff is quick to seek answers for what they don’t know. Reservations: Recommended.