The people behind Maxie’s and Blue’s Egg are planting roots with their new Story Hill BKC.

As Dan Sidner tells it, some residents of Story Hill – an old community seated on a bluff north of Miller Park – approached him and business partner/chef Joe Muench about opening a coffee shop. Sidner and Muench were intrigued but had grander ideas. The Maxie’s/Blue’s Egg owners dove into their biggest challenge – a business in three parts: coffee shop, restaurant and wine store.

The partners took a cue from the rulebook of restaurant-owning and didn’t steal any thunder from their other West Side joints. Story Hill BKC is a major departure and positively charming.

BKC (“Bottle Kitchen Cup”) opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays for espresso drinks; rich, buttery pastries; and European-style breakfast items like a salami-cheese “meatbread”; back bacon and baked eggs; mixed-grain porridge; and a Tunisian baked egg and tomato dish called shakshouka ($7-$14). That menu carries through lunchtime, when more is added to it, things like beer cheese soup and a house-smoked pork sandwich with potato pancake, pickles and gravy. In the evening, the waitstaff brings out small and larger sharing plates from the dinner menu, everything from a “taste”-size portion of prime grass-fed beef ($12) and chicken meatballs ($3 each) to the “share” and “pass” plates, like roast baby potatoes topped with meat drippings ($6) and ham-crusted whitefish ($18).

On the west side of the main dining room is the retail wine shop, where BKC stocks 350-plus selections that double as the restaurant’s bottled wine list. The half- and full-glass pours number 22 varieties (including four tap wines). The beer menu has 21 tap options also available in growlers.

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Muench’s interests in Latin cuisine and homey, rural farmland fare are front-and-center on the dinner menu, which is a gas to explore. The butter-flake dinner rolls are obligatory (with lots of butter, three for $6.50). The elote – Mexican corn – re-creates the experience of roast corn (minus the cob) slathered in mayo and Cotija cheese. Lime juice and loin bacon intensify the flavor ($9).

Like the corn, Muench amplifies the flavor in Connie’s salad ($13) – shredded chicken, pickled carrot, dried mango, zucchini all mingled in a creamy jalapeno dressing. The menu is set up for whatever mix-and-match way of ordering makes sense to you. If you want to follow the salad with a small order of sweetbreads with oyster mushrooms in pan sauce ($10), go for it. For a distinct beef-eating experience, the Story Hill steak ($30) is cut into layers sewn up with string. You pull off the string and the layers separate, and the juices and compound butter ooze over the plate. It’s a wonderful piece of beef.

As Sidner looks into adding historic photos to reinforce the theme of a gathering place, the space itself does a fine job of conveying that message. Cedarburg designer Lucky Star Workshop pulled off a homey, hodgepodgy vision of reclaimed barnwood, warm color tones and earthy lighting. If the Story Hill neighborhood hasn’t gotten its due, as Sidner argues, it should now. ◆

Story Hill BKC
5100 W. Bluemound Rd., 414-539-4424
Hours: Sun 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Tues-Fri 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Prices: B and L $6-$16; D $3-$30.
Service: Enthusiastic, well-versed.
Dress: Clothes, any kind.
Credit cards: M V A DS. 
Handicap access: Yes.
Reservations: Accepted for dinner Tues-Sat, and for parties of eight or more for brunch or lunch.

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‘Never-Ending Story’ appears in the October 2014 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

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