Love Handle is the type of place you won’t mind getting a bit chunky from. The food is that good. This little East Side sandwich shop’s sublime choices of creative comfort foods are so tasty, you might as well wear the restaurant’s namesake as a badge of honor.
Owners Chris and Ally Benedyk moved to Milwaukee and opened Love Handle in August. The couple’s approach to food is personal, unpretentious and unconventional. The menu is an an ever-changing chalkboard of unique items named after everything from Wisconsin stand-bys, like the Packer or the Harley.
At Love Handle the people are warm and friendly and the atmosphere is both eclectic and cozy. Situated at the intersection of Prospect and North Avenues by Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital and Whole Foods, the restaurant has a laid back charm. From the decorative collection of doorknobs on wood to a bark trimmed wooden sign saying ‘Order Here,’ it’s the little things that make Love Handle a joy to visit.
Though the atmosphere is warm and homey, the true star of Love Handle is the food. With specialty items like guava panna cotta, or black truffle bologna on the menu, no one will be disappointed.
The Harley sandwich, put on the menu in honor of the 110th anniversary of the Milwaukee motorcycle company, is like the gooey grilled cheese your mom would make for you as a kid, but the adult version, filled with black truffle, pickled radishes and plenty of the rare Italian cheese, taleggio.
The guava in Love Handle’s panna cotta gives the Italian gelatin-based dessert a creamy and light bounce of citrus. While this was one of Love Handle’s more traditional desserts, the sauce gives it just enough unconventionality to make it at home among Love Handle’s many innovative choices.
For what you get, the price is great. Sandwiches go for $9, small plates are from $4 to $12, and the phenomenal desserts are well worth the extra 5 or 6 bucks.
Love Handle also hosts movie nights every Wednesday at 8 p.m. with themed menu items. When the owners showed “The Princess Bride,” they had pecan buttercups in honor of the movie’s central heroine. Movies on this fall’s “Dinner & a Movie” schedule include “Dr. Strangelove,” “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Psycho,” “Rushmore” and “Gremlins.”
“Wednesdays were our worst night of the week, now it’s great,” Benedyk said happy with the way the event attracted more business and draws people looking to have a good time.
“We started with completely random movies…” Benedyk said. “The first movie we showed (was) ’Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter is Dead?,’” a cheesy eighties flick that creates a bizarre what-if plot, essentially summed up in the title.
“I wanted to turn Wednesdays, which are traditionally bad days, into a good day…” he said.
At Love Handle, the food is one-of-a-kind. The ginger beer is the best in town. The movie choices are great. This little place brings it all together to give you a big reason for a bus ride across town.
Story by Claire Hackett
Special to the Tribune