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A better than expected reception has made Blue Bear, 2920 Taylor Avenue, a fast favorite with diners on the hunt for tasty, quality fare. A Sunday visit during the peak of brunch leaves little doubt – the bear is bursting with flavor.
“We’re bridging the gap,” said owner Brian Zielinski. “Anyone who is familiar with the area understands that there is a need for something different. It’s not hard to fill a restaurant when everyone loves the food and feels good when they leave.”
Bridging the gap between Racine’s many great breakfast and lunch stops and high-end dinner restaurants has come naturally to Zielinski, chef Steven Leech and Operations Manager, Tessa Santora-Schulte, owner of Nourri Corporate Catering.
Starting with all-natural, organic ingredients, their formula elevates classic breakfast and lunch fare to savory and unexpected with offerings like the Garbage Pile Sandwich, Gourmet Grilled Cheese, Duck Fat Fries and Blueberry Mimosas. Everything on the menu is made from scratch with all-natural ingredients, free from hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Most menu items are from Santora-Schulte’s catering business, Nourri Corporate Catering. Those that aren’t were created by her and chef Leech.
On an unseasonably warm Sunday morning, a friend and I joined dozens of diners for our first taste of Blue Bear. We arrived about 10AM and found easy parking in the triangular lot off of Durand Avenue.
With every inch indoors devoted to diners, a full house could mean a short outdoor wait. Benches and plants outside the entrance create a pleasant al Fresco seating space. The restaurant’s popularity may warrant a quick call (262-583-3131) to ask about seating. Reservations are taken Tuesday through Thursday.
Blue Bear’s interior gives a nod to its namesake with deep blue walls punctuated by brightly-hued art. An accent wall of weathered gray pallets, dark wood tables and chairs and cloth napkins add to the ambiance and inclination to linger at a table or the full bar.
The weekend brunch menu includes unique offerings like: Boursin Habanero Omelet (boursin cream cheese, habanero, chives: $8); Poutine (house duck fat fries, smoked gouda cream sauce, bordelaise sauce, Swiss cheese and fried onions: $9); and Blue Bear Benedict (deep fried poached eggs, Berkshire ham, potato pancakes, smoked gouda cream cheese, caramelized onions: $10) and the signature blueberry Mimosa.
On a recent visit, a friend and I opted for Pulled Pork Benedict (tender pork crowned with poached eggs, hollandaise and fried onions on corn bread: $10.5), and one of Zielinski’s personal favorites, Short Rib Hash (house braised short ribs, bordelaise sauce, fried onions, potatoes, peppers farm fresh eggs, onion rings and toast: $13). Both were flavorful and abundant.
Vegetarian options include a daily vegetable quiche, Sardu (croissant, spinach cheese spread, roasted tomatoes, poached eggs and Hollandaise: $8); Rancheros egg bake (black beans, Chihuahua cheese, peppers, onions, cilantro, sour cream, avocado, roasted tomato salsa, honey corn bread and chipotle honey butter: $9); and specialty salads. Blue Bear also offers gluten-free options.
The food at Blue Bear is good for you, but not what you might think of as health food. “It tastes decadent and delicious,” said Zielinski. ‘When you come out of your happy stupor, you will realize that it was actually good for you.”
Blue Bear’s breakfast, brunch and lunch menus each offer about two dozen items with prices ranging from $7 to $13, and lots of leeway for add-ons like house bison sausage, maple glazed donut bites with bacon crumbles or sassy cow chocolate milk.
Many of the same menu items are available through the catering side of the business, Nourri Corporate Catering, which caters events for groups ranging from 12 to 300.
Breakfast is served from 7-11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and weekend brunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed on Monday. To learn more, call 262-583-3131. For catering, call 262-583-3200.
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