The East Side’s Getting a New Restaurant!

Birch will open in June.

A new restaurant is coming to Pleasant Street on the East Side – a fresh concept in a space already known for dining. The new concept, called Birch, will replace Birch & Butcher – which was known for dishes baked in a wood-burning hearth – at 459 E. Pleasant St. Birch is expected to open in early June.

Birch, described as a “hyper-seasonal” New American-style spot, will also utilize the hearth , as well as highlight Wisconsin farmers and food producers. The team behind it is a trio – chef Kyle Knall, a one-time sous at New York’s Gramercy Tavern; restaurateur Becca Zwiefelhofer, formerly a partner in Birch & Butcher; and sommelier Ben Christiansen, owner of Waterford Wine & Spirits. 

Knall is new to Milwaukee, but has a connection to these parts. His wife is a Milwaukee native. Besides serving as executive chef/partner of a restaurant called Mayville in New York City, Knall’s resume includes opening Kenton’s in New Orleans, La, and taking the executive chef role of The Equinox Hotel and Starr Restaurants’ Electric Lemon.

Christiansen, who operates two Waterford locations, will head up Birch’s wine program. The space also features a new, large bar in what used to be the butcher shop area of the restaurant. In addition to wines, the drink menu will include cocktails made with seasonal ingredients.

As for Birch & Butcher, it stopped serving food on Nov. 1. Since then, it’s contributed to the free meal program at The Tandem, among other things. Sommelier Christiansen explained of the changeover: “The idea is not that Birch & Butcher ever closed permanently, rather (and I realize this is a fine point), that Kyle, Becca and I hope to rekindle what is there…. But we also want to bring a fresh new liveliness to the restaurant, including Chef Kyle’s menu and a broadened wine list.”

According to a press release, Birch will kick off with preview dinners on Friday and Saturday evenings in May. They will be announced via social media.

Birch will open for indoor and patio dining in early June. Expected hours: Tues-Sat from 5:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun brunch 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Reservations are available at birchandbutcher.com.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.