Gregory León, chef and co-owner of Amilinda, drew his Spanish-Portuguese menu from his travels. He is one the most approachable restaurateurs in the biz. Everything at Amilinda from tiles, exposed Cream City brick walls, paintings or the brightly colored rooster sitting on the chef’s counter (aka bar) has a story he is willing to share. However, this story doesn’t end with the décor, but carries over to a creative and thoughtful menu. Bravo to León for doing fewer menu items, doing them well and changing them daily (menu prices fluctuate based on market prices). León works with local farmers, taking what is in season and creating an abbreviated menu that doesn’t have so many choices it makes your head spin. Almost everything is made in house (Alisa Malavenda)
Amilinda Restaurant provides a welcome addition to Milwaukee’s Downtown menagerie of international restaurants with its focus on Spanish and Portuguese food and cocktails and emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes weekly subject to which vegetables are in season.
The space seems a bit small at first, but it’s really narrow and expansive, with an impressive granite bar stretching out for a good half of the restaurant. An open-ish kitchen allows for all kinds of wonderful scents to waft by the tables.
Promptly upon being seated, I was offered a ricotta cheese and ramp spread accompanied by Rocket Baby sourdough, which in its softness and sourness is an excellent complement to the savory spread.
A dining experience at Amilinda is well paced, and I’d recommend adjusting your expectations a bit to enjoy a luxurious meal. Order a cocktail while you wait for your appetizer—the Spanish G&T ($11) is a gin and tonic with a splash of sweet vermouth to round out the mouthfeel and give it some, well, sweetness. The Spanish Shipwreck ($10) sparkling cocktail—a mixture of rum, cava and bitters—is bright and fun. Their red wine list naturally skews towards tempranillo and garnacha, with several solid by-the-glass options.