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KASANA, Carlisle and Sprecher take root

Photos by Dan Bishop

September 2013

Blue Jacket

The new dinner service at the Bossa Nova dining room of KASANA Café is filled with culinary delights — from a savory burger, enhanced by dates and topped with blue cheese; to chicken vatava, a Brazilian creamy casserole made with coconut milk and onions; to Xingu Brazilian beer, a black beer that’s light and slightly sweet; to a creamy, to a mousse-like dark chocolate dessert that’s made with no sugar yet tastes as decadent as can be. "We’re serious about food, but we’re not pretentious," says chef/owner Ana Docta.

Docta, who grew up in Argentina and Brazil with a Spanish mother and Italian father, brings a diverse culinary background to Milwaukee’s dining scene. Add to that time spent dancing ballet in Europe and a stint as an MTV producer in South America before becoming a restaurateur like her father, and you come to understand the vibrancy of both her food and her restaurant. "I want it to be a joy for people to come here," Docta says, in between encouraging her customers to eat and eat some more. "It’s not your traditional food. I want this restaurant to allow us to get close to you, and we will comfort you."


Dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday; Wednesday night is gourmet pizza night. The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday. Docta also serves up a special chef’s table for six guests by special arrangement. 241 N. Broadway (414) 224-6158

Intimacy is prized at Justin Carlisle’s new venture, Ardent. The former Umami Moto chef and James Beard Award nominee is accommodating his passion for serving food in a more personal setting. With seating for only 20 guests and a minimal staff, patrons will be close to the action. "I want them to know who I am, and I want them to feel like we’re sharing this time together," says Carlisle.

The menu will also be small, numbering only 12 dishes ranging in price from $4 to about $25. "It’s not going to be soup, salad, entrée, dessert. It’s just going to be a list, and you can choose as many items as you want," Carlisle says. "There will also be a set price if you want to come and have the entire menu as a 12-course tasting."


The menu will change with the seasons, but come mid-September, when Ardent is set to open, Carlisle will have a beef dish that features beef from his family’s farm. He’s also planning to have a butter, bread and cheese course featuring the grass-fed cheeses made by award-winning cheese maker Bruce Workman (who just won another award at this year’s American Cheese Society). "I’m also going to do a take-off on a casserole, and some heritage dishes," Carlisle says.

He is applying for a full liquor license but at first he’s only planning to serve wine and beer, with six to eight wines and eight to 12 beers, many of the beers locally brewed. 1751 N. Farwell Ave.

Venerable Milwaukee brewer Sprecher Brewing Co. has plans to open a brew pub Oct. 1 at Bayshore Town Center. Sprecher Restaurant and Pub will be similar to the company’s other brew pubs in Lake Geneva, Madison and the Wisconsin Dells. The menu will feature burgers, salads, pastas and sandwiches and 20 beers on tap. "You name it, we have it," says Elizabeth Dion, assistant manager of the Lake Geneva location. Many of the dishes feature beer or Sprecher soda as an ingredient.

The restaurant is family friendly, Dion notes, and has one super feature that appeals to children and adults: a walk-up window for ordering Sprecher root beer floats to go.

Miltown Musts

Milwaukee has seen a lot of new restaurant openings this summer, but here are three buzz-worthy newbies that are worth a visit.

Blue Jacket

The Buzz: A Third-Coast-centric, nautical theme with emphasis on highly crafted cocktails designed by Milwaukee’s own Bittercube mixologists Ira Koplowitz and Nicholas Kosevich.

The Experience: The restaurant and bar are focused on the Great Lakes. "Part of the Great Lakes tradition is the American maritime traditions," Koplowitz says. "When we were thinking about cocktails, the two maritime spirits we focused on were gin and rum." Of the Older Bumbo is a rum-based old-fashioned made with 12-year-old Flor de Cana rum, with a special nutmeg and sorghum syrup, along with special bitters the two have crafted just for the drink. The drink is premade, bottled and frozen into a glass bottle so that it is perfectly chilled and served with the bottle over ice. The food is equally inventive: try a scallop dish that’s made with Bittercube Jamaican No. 2 bitters, or mussels made with a curry and yellow chartreuse, a "really beautiful and fragrant, herbaceous liquor."

La Hispania

The Buzz: Latin fusion with a side of heart-healthy dishes.

The Experience: This daring new restaurant is the venture of Juan and Natalia Gutierrez. "One of the principles is authenticity," says Juan Gutierrez. While the cuisine is Mexican fusion, the ingredients are local, and half of the menu is devoted to fish and seafood. "My wife, she’s an architect by degree, and she puts the beauty and design on the dishes in the kitchen," Gutierrez says. "We’ve got a lot of cilantro pesto, a lot of extra virgin olive oils. Salmon is not a common fish in Mexico, but sea bass is. One thing we’re doing is using some of the sea bass recipes we know from our family, but we are using them with salmon instead."


The Buzz: Hipper gastropub in the former MOCT nightclub space.

The Experience: The wide-open garage doors beckon patrons inside on warm summer nights, and the interior lights create a glow of warmth that contrasts with the night sky. But this isn’t a hipster nightclub that serves up a few dishes — this is a gastropub that rocks until the wee hours of the morning. Try hand-crafted tortellini tossed in made-from-scratch sauces, or just snack on house-made pickles and chicken-wing lollipops. Add crafted cocktails, craft beers and a bourbon list that numbers 30.


This story ran in the September 2013 issue of: