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Restaurant Reviews

Much More Than An Award-Winning Shop

I begin this article with a slight feeling of trepidation. I am about to reveal what I believe to be a hidden local gem. West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe at 6832 w. Becher street. Personally, I came across this culinary jewel while on a bicycle ride around the neighborhood. I had driven by and noticed the sign on several occasions but assumed by the name is was just a store that sold cheese and sausage. Little did I know at the time, that was only a small portion of the story.


While it is true that West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe does indeed sell both sausage and cheese, along with a host of other items. These include wine, pickled items, spreads, salsas, dips local craft beers and sodas and so much more. They have won awards for their cheese selection from the Shepherd Express ‘Best of Milwaukee’ competition 4 years in a row and WISN A-list awards for Wisconsin’s best cheese shop an amazing 7 years in a row. They not only have artisanal and imported cheeses but the largest selection of Wisconsin cheeses as well. They also ship your gifts to all 50 states.


As amazing and award-winning as their store is, that is not what brought me in on this cold December morning. West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe has a restaurant serving delicious meals crafted from the local ingredients they carry. Everyone I know that has stopped here for lunch or breakfast has become a repeat customer. Margie and I find ourselves there at the very least once a month. During the summer when their dog-friendly garden patio is open, we find ourselves there more often.


From the second you open the door you are greeted with the scent of Nueske’s bacon sizzling on the grill. Blending that with the scent of fresh bread, fried eggs and Stone Creek coffee brewing and you realize you are in a brunch heaven. The setup is a simple affair. There is a counter at which you place your order. It not only features the very helpful and friendly staff, but a host of mouth-watering baked goods you can add to your order. The menu is on large signs above the counter. Just to the right of the ordering station is a monthly special sign that features two items, the breakfast special and the sandwich of the month. Each day of the week also has a special sandwich dedicated to it. Today we were greeted by a very friendly young lady named Brenna. With her flawless order taking and great customer service we were shocked to learn it was her first day. Working beside Brenna in case she ran into any trouble was a young lady named Ashley. In my recent memory I cannot recall anyone who displayed a more genuine smile more often than Ashley.


As Margie carefully chose what wonderful item she would have, which can be the most difficult part of dinning here, I ordered first. I ordered the sandwich of the month the Blitzen. One can only assume this was named after the famous reindeer. It featured ham, roasted garlic brick cheese, a fried egg, house made French mayo and fresh arugula all served on a rustic Baguette. It was also served with house-made chips. When the sandwich came, I could not wait to take a bite. I was not disappointed. The baguette was crispy on the outside with a perfect chewy inside. The French mayo added the perfect flavor enhancer. The ham and garlic brick cheese gave the sandwich a wonderful savory flavor, and the arugula gave a fresh lightness. The homemade chips were perfectly seasoned. Just the same I added a touch of hot sauce and they were perfect.


Margie chose the American Breakfast. This was more of a traditional breakfast but done as only they can do it at West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe. It featured two eggs done your way, sausage or bacon, fried potatoes, and your choice of toast. You also have the option of adding a smoked pork chop for an extra two dollars. I must confess when Brenna brought our food out, it was all I could do not to switch plates and hope Margie would not notice. Being that the astute love of my life was likely to notice the difference between a sandwich and a breakfast platter, I chose to just ask to sample hers. She asked me to pass the hot sauce I was adding to my chips but told me she had reconsidered because the potatoes where done and seasoned to perfection. The toast came with a side of preserves that was out of this world. Luckily, Margie and I both like our bacon a little on the rare side. I say ‘lucky’ because she was generous enough to share a piece with me. When you go to West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe, please do me a favor and order some bacon. After taking a bite I had to close my eyes and have a moment to myself. A perfect cut with a great smoky flavor, this bacon will not disappoint.


This culinary bliss would have continued endlessly if not for Ashley returning to freshen my cup of Stone Creek coffee I had ordered with my meal. Still wearing her glowing smile, she inquired as if everything was to our liking. Without even a chance to answer, as my mouth was full of deliciousness, she read my mind and asked, “Would you enjoy a glass of ice water?” The wonderful food here is always served with a side of friendly, caring service.


Many things make enjoying a meal at West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe so special. First, you know you will be served quality, and in most cases, local ingredients. Also, the store is through an open doorway, so you can purchase some of them to take home with you. Second, owner Mark Lutz and his wife Linda do a great deal for the community. You will find their names on the local Christkindl Market. A collection of local vendors gathered at the West Allis farmer’s market. They also host an amazing customer service day with the surrounding business. It turns into an amazing street fair atmosphere. They have also hosted coffee with the mayor and generally do a lot to promote the city. Third, the atmosphere is open and sunny. You can’t help but smile as you overlook the patio and Becher street. Lastly, for me the charm of West Allis Cheese & Sausage is the fact you always have a good time. This leads to so many good memories that come flooding back every time I go there. Margie and I always leave with a full and happy stomach and a smile on our faces.


West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe has another location downtown at the Milwaukee market. Next time you are looking for a quality, unique gift I highly recommend choosing West Allis Cheese & Sausage. You will be supporting owners who care about their community and you will be giving those you care about a gift they will truly enjoy. Looking towards the future, Mr. Lutz has announced plans to open an old-fashioned butcher shop across the street in 2019. If the current location is any indication, that will be a must stop as well.

 

By: Neil Panosian

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