These sophisticated Chicago restaurants delight diners with a special ingredient: food grown in Wisconsin
Who: Executive chef Michael McDonald has worked in Miami Beach, Las Vegas and Los Cabos, perfecting the arts of French and Asian cuisines. Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard of the restaurant’s owner: Michael Jordan.
What: Part of the Cornerstone Restaurant Group that owns several Chicago eateries, one sixtyblue runs on the motto “simple inspiration, every day.” Once home to a pickle factory, the now sleek and stylish restaurant serves up American food inspired by seasonal flavors.
Where: The restaurant’s free-range, grass-fed beef comes from the Dietzler Farm in Elkhorn.
How: Offered Thursday nights at the bar, the $4 one sixtyblue burger is made with twenty-one-day, dry-aged prime ground beef from Dietzler. Top it with applewood smoked cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese or a special cheddar bleu from Shullsburg’s Roelli Cheese Co.
1400 W. Randolph St.
West Town Tavern
Who: Proprietors Susan and Drew Goss made a name for themselves in the Chicago culinary community at Zinfandel Restaurant, which they ran for a decade.
What: The pair created this cozy neighborhood restaurant in the spirit of America’s great taverns. In an 1880s building, chef Susan cooks up “contemporary comfort food.”
Where: The Gosses source produce from several Wisconsin farms through the distributor Green & Green, and they receive mushrooms weekly from Burlington’s River Valley Ranch. Much of their cheese comes from Carr Valley Cheese in Middleton, Fantôme Farm in Ridgeway, BelGioioso Cheese in Denmark, Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville and Park Cheese Company in Brownsville.
How: Roasted winter mushrooms with shaved stravecchio and veal jus features River Valley Ranch mushrooms and cheese from the Antigo Cheese Company.
1329 W. Chicago Ave.
Who: A Chicago native, chef and partner Bruce Sherman picked up influences in Boston, Washington, D.C., New Delhi and Paris before starting at North Pond in 1999.
What: Both the restaurant’s décor and culinary philosophy are inspired by the Arts and Crafts tradition. Sherman designs his menus around products raised in their native environment and uses them at the height of their season.
Where: Nearly half of the twenty-seven farms listed on North Pond’s website are firmly rooted in Wisconsin. Among them are Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds, Hidden Springs Creamery in Westby, Uplands Cheese Company, Blue Marble Family Farm in Barneveld and Shooting Star Farm in Mineral Point.
How: Sherman likes serving a soft-boiled egg from New Century Farm in Shullsburg with winter spinach coulis from Snug Haven Farm and sweet onion puree from Evansville’s Tipi Produce.
2610 N. Cannon Dr.
Who: Owner Mary Beth Liccioni opened the once-private Les Nomades to the public in 1996 and hired chef Chris Nugent nine years later to add new energy.
What: Nugent updates classical French cuisine with twists and nuances in flavor and presentation. The elegant restaurant is set in a nineteenth-century brownstone.
Where: Nugent gets spinach from Belleville’s Snug Haven Farm, heirloom tomatoes from Brooklyn’s Tomato Mountain and cheese from Uplands Cheese Company. And much of the produce is grown in Wisconsin, at farms such as Cherry Acres in Door County and Harmony Valley Farm in Viroqua, and then handpicked by Lee’s Farm Fresh Produce at Chicago’s South Water Market.
How: A dish of roasted duck breast with Savoy cabbage and confit ragout, smoked Chantenay carrot purée and pearl onions highlights
cabbage from Borzynski Farms in Franksville.
222 E. Ontario St.
Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.