By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Apr 02, 2024 at 7:02 PM

Just as planned, Café Benelux officially reopens to the public on Wednesday, April 3 at 346 N. Broadway Ave.  The reopening follows the most extensive interior renovations since the café opened in 2011.

The upgrades to the space were enacted in collaboration with Rev Pop and THREE SIXTY, the design and build firm that has been part of the Cafe’s DNA from the beginning, enacting strategic upgrades over the past 14 years. But this time – except for upgrades to server stations, their prep kitchen and POS system – the changes are far more visible.

“Our intent was to create a more spacious and tremendously improved bar experience," says Lowlands Group owner and CEO, Eric Wagner. "And we are thrilled with the results."

The focal point at the Lowlands’ Grand Café is now their expansive wrap-around bar, updated with a marble top and double the seating capacity.

Bar at BeneluxX

An additional well allows for swift service on busy days and – at its center – the bar showcases many of the brews available on draught.

Surrounding the bar is a reimagined dining space with additional booth seating and a coveted VIP corner booth boasts room for 8-10 guests.

VIP Corner BoothX

Guests will also note new lighting throughout the restaurant, eye-catching tile in the entrance and surrounding the bar.  New wall coverings, along with photos recollecting staff journeys through Belgium enhance the overall aesthetic.

During the five-week renovation period, Benelux staff were not only paid, but offered unique training experiences including tours of distilleries and breweries, and engaging presentations from importers, distributors and local partners. The goal, notes COO Ileana Rivera, was to bolster the knowledge of staff resulting in an enhanced customer experience.

Shot of the barX

At the bar

Guests will also note a series of updates to the menu, including more draught options than ever before. The new bar boasts 53 taps, 42 of which feature bier. Even more, 20 of the tap brews are rare or exclusive.  Among the options is the newest of the Lowlands Brewing Collaborative offerings: Fodor 18, a sour aged for 18 months in Fodor barrels made in collaboration with Brouwerij De Brabandere.

Chimay TowerX

All bier can be ordered as a pour, with smaller portions available for those who’d like to sample multiple brews. That includes selections from the four-tap Chimay tower at the head of the bar, which is a nod to Benelux’s new status as one among only four Club Chimay Ambassadorships in the country. The partnership has also resulted in collaborative custom glassware touting: “Brewed by monks, poured by Lowlands”.

Chimay glasswareX

The Ambassadorship is a tribute to Lowlands Group’s commitment to bier, which has resulted in partnerships throughout Belgium. Not only are they among 12 ambassadors for the Orval brand, but they are the first to offer Duval on tap in the State of Wisconsin. Duval, formerly only available in bottles, is now available at Benelux thanks to a new custom tap system designed to retain the distinctive characteristics of Duval’s 6-month bottle aging process.

Cayden pouring Duvel from tapX

“Our friendships and relationships with Belgian brewers have allowed us to bring exclusive offerings to Café Benelux that really set us apart,” notes Wagner. “Our goal has always been to introduce our communities to Belgian bier culture and offer them a unique space designed expressly for that experience.”

Bar-goers will also note a new bar snack program featuring munchable portions of beer-worthy offerings like house buffalo chips and dip and a charcuterie mix priced at $4-$5 for folks who are stopping in for a drink and a snack.

Bar snacksX

Meanwhile, a new cocktail menu designed by Beverage Development and Operations Manager Cayden Wolter-Milton showcases Spanish-style gin and tonics, with tonic served on the side, allowing each guest to add tonic to taste. 

Gin & TonicsX

Options include drinks showcasing the flavor profiles of three distinctive gins: the dry Wandering Traveler (Fords Gin with lemon, thyme, blackberry); a sweeter Cheeky Brit (Whitley Neill Rhubarb & Ginger Gin, orange, mint, raspberry); and the savory Mediterranean Aire (Gin Mare, rosemary, olives).

Additional specialties include The Lion & the Goat featuring Benelux’s annual Dancing Goat barrel pick, a single barrel Limousin Rye, Doundrins Mint and white peach (rimmed with mint and sugar); and the Lux-Tini showcasing local Rehorst Citrus Honey, Tattersall Blueberry and Rishi butterfly pea flower lime syrup (rimmed with hibiscus sugar).

Additional cocktailsX

New for the season is draught Tropical Sangria, a collaboration between Odyssea Sangria and Lowlands featuring a white wine-based sangria with notes of kumquat, papaya, orange and lemon. The sangria is available on draught at Benelux and Centraal.

On the menu

Seasonal menu changes have also been put into play so guests can look forward to a variety of dishes fit for the spring season. 

Tuna SaladX

Offerings include a fresh new Pepper Tuna Salad featuring six-pepper seared tuna, organic mixed greens, pea tendrils, tomato giardiniera, green beans, cucumbers, feta, lattice chips and sweet onion vinaigrette ($18.95); plus the return of the Watermelon salad featuring arugula, mint, watermelon, feta, jalapeno, bacon, pepitas and citrus dressing ($15.95).

Watermelon saladX

Shareables include Lux Mussels steamed with artichokes, capers, roma tomatoes and basil pesto ($17.95) and Fried Calimari served with chipotle aioli, parmesan, green chili crema and lime ($15.95).


Fresh burrata is also available, served with arugula, tomato giardiniera, sizzled soppressata, tomato jam and balsamic reduction (served with toast points, $15.95).


The burrata also appears in a new burrata and grilled vegetable sandwich featuring grilled zucchini, peppers, onions and portabella mushrooms with mixed greens, avocado salsa and chipotle aioli ($14.95). 

There’s also a new burger to enjoy. The Pedal Pusher features bacon-onion relish, black pepper boursin spread, spicy mustard, arugula and pickles ($15.95).

Meanwhile, entrees include flame-grilled beef tenderloin kebabs with grilled vegetables, golden lemon couscous, paprika sauce, feta, cilantro-onion relish and flatbread ($25.99); along with Garlic Herb Tuna, six-pepper tuna served with green chili herb relish, crispy smashed potatoes, garlic aioli, green bean and pea tendril slaw and goat cheese ($23.95).

Tuna entreeX

Club Chimay VIP Tasting

Café Benelux will be receiving their Club Chimay recognition on Thursday, April 18 from Chimay Export Director, Pierre Hensenne. Guests are invited to join in the celebration. Ticketed guests can taste all four Chimay biers on draught along with selected food pairings. The tasting event kicks of at 6 p.m.  Tickets are available online

Beginning April 3, Benelux will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.