A recent review of Justin Carlisle’s new venture, Ardent in Milwaukee, WI, Carol Deptolla of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel expressed her appreciation this way:
“Ardent’s inaugural menu in particular said Wisconsin to me, with some dishes that evoked supper clubs, if their chefs had put in time at the Greenbrier in West Virginia, Gramercy Tavern in New York and Tru in Chicago as Carlisle had, along with Harvest in Madison and Umami Moto in Milwaukee. Ardent is the sort of restaurant that food lovers travel to try, where the character of a place and its traditions are revealed in a modern way, and there’s flat-out joy to be found in food. How fantastic to have a restaurant like Ardent in Milwaukee.”
Justin tried to capture the idea in an interview with Kyle Cherek this way:
Note how Justin resists the desire by Kyle to categorize the cuisine at Ardent. At the 2:20 mark, Kyle pushes Justin to give the 30-second definition of his cuisine. Justin resists defining it with anything more than it’s “personal”. Kyle has an “aggressive” characterization of Justin. They laugh. Kyle tries to define the cuisine for Justin as “It’s comfort food. And I get a lot from my parents farm.” Justin says “Right.”
But it certainly stretches the definition of comfort food to call the Game Hen recently featured at Ardent “comfort food” given this description by Carol Deptolla:
“leg meat so tender and delicious, alongside a breast stuffed with forcemeat and herbs, and an earthy note of ash. The hen’s amazing companion was a sunflower “risotto,” the sunflower seeds rendered creamy and tender like the rice dish, with a star-shaped bit of rutabaga beside it.”
Comforting…yes. Comfort food…not like anything I grew up with as a Midwest boy. May we ever so humbly suggest an alternative definition of Justin’s innovative offerings at Ardent – Great Lakes Cuisine. We’re glad to add Ardent to our list of Restaurants and look forward to more innovation to come. Any chef crediting Joel Rubochon along with Grandma Carlisle as the inspiration for their pureed potatoes embodies the best of innovative takes on our traditional cuisine.