Pan and Pan, a Mexican bakery and restaurant, opened in late 2009 in the vacant Popeye's building in the parking lot of Woodman's East, 3737 Milwaukee St. (608-285-5232). It started with bakery only and recently added a small menu of taquería basics.
The decor remains unchanged from Popeye's - the exterior still sports bright yellow stucco, and the interior Formica booths. But behind the counter you can see the loaves and buns being made, and handwritten signs announce the rest of the offerings: tacos ($2), tortas ($5), burritos ($5.50) and quesadillas ($4), with pork, beef, tongue or chorizo as fillings.
The bakery items are stacked on metal racks in the entrance area. Choose from a variety of pan dulces, still warm from the oven. A chocolate concha - a round, not very sweet bun topped with a swirling pattern of sugar, cinnamon and cocoa powder - looks beautiful and works for breakfast or dinner. Other buns are filled with a tart lemon filling and a slightly sweetened custard.
One big difference between Mexican pastries and those usually found in bakeries in areas of the upper Midwest that have a strong German and Scandinavian heritage is that they're not very sweet - more like bread than the rich, buttery batters that make Danish and kringle.
Other breads are also baked here. I picked up a couple of fluffy telera loaves, still warm from the oven, for 70 cents each; pan dulce cost $1.
Speaking of sweet breakfast dough, starting this week Monty's Blue Plate Diner is making its own homemade doughnuts. Sour cream cake doughnuts and a puffier glazed doughnut are on the menu every day, 85 cents each, a dozen for $9.50. It all seems wholesome and right - a cup of coffee, a doughnut for dunking and the newspaper to read as you perch on a stool at the counter of a diner.
Brickhouse BBQ has finally opened its doors at 408 W. Gorham St. The restaurant is no tiny barbecue joint, but an expansive celebration of meat. The renovated building has three bars, event space, a third-floor banquet hall and, when the weather gets warmer, a rooftop dining area. The executive chef is Mark Walters, who served the same function at Brickhouse's sister restaurant, Samba Brazilian Grill; the pastry chef is Emily Smith. The only locally sourced meat named on the menu is Jordandal Farms ham. Other entrees include pulled pork, ribs, chicken, sausage and catfish. Most are also available in sandwiches; vegetarians have a grilled portabella mushroom sandwich and a couple of salads.
While getting Brickhouse off the ground took longer than anticipated (the opening was originally slated for fall of '09), the results just from a physical standpoint are an impressive addition to campus-area dining.
Both Brickhouse and Samba are owned by Jongyean and Hyungirl Lee, who also own the Church Key, Riley's Wines and Badger Liquor. That experience shows in the extensive beer list. Forty craft beers are expected to be on tap, with an emphasis on Wisconsin breweries but also featuring Dogfish Head, Goose Island and more. Also on hand are "small-batch bourbon and rye."