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Milwaukee's Ardent and Sanford selected as two of the best restaurants in the U.S.

Ardent Milwaukee

There are a lot of lists for best restaurants in America. One of those lists,Opinionated about Dining’s Top 100 US Restaurants of 2016, selected two Milwaukee establishments – Chef Justin Carlisle’s Ardent and Chef Justin Aprahamian’s Sanford.  Sanford comes in at #42 and Ardent comes in at #88 and they are the only two Wisconsin restaurants on the list.

Carlisle was also nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Midwest Chef earlier this year.

In its fifth year, Opinionated By Dining is the only dining survey that factors experience into its rating system.  The results are based on over 160,000 reviews contributed by more than 4,500 people who registered for the survey. The founder, Steve Plotnicki wanted to create an accessible alternative to the Michelin Guide.

Here is how the list describes Sanford:

<i>On its face, Justin Aprahamian’s restaurant looks like the local installment of the typical New American restaurant that you can find all over the country. But what makes it stand out from all of the others is a menu where, “many of the dishes are influenced by Milwaukee’s local ethnic groups.” Aprahamiam’s menu features dishes like a cheese bourek with a pickled watermelon salad, duck breast glazed with lekvar (prune butter) and roasted apricots; and veal breast cooked for 17 hours and topped with a paprika and caraway seed crust and served with a poppy seed slaw. It’s uniformly recommended by reviewers whose comments include; “a marriage of Midwestern pride and culinary genius” and “While L’Etoile might get the press, Sanford is the best restaurant in Wisconsin.” “</i>

Here is how the list describes Ardent:

<i>Few states can offer a cuisine as varied as Wisconsin’s, where a significant portion of the state’s population are descendants of German and Polish immigrants and many people grew up on farms. Justin Carlisle, who was raised on a farm in Sparta, Wisconsin, is committed to recapturing the flavors from his early years, and he combines ingredients sourced from Wisconsin farms, including beef his father raises, with a progressive approach to cuisine. A typical tasting menu includes Carlisle’s unusual takes on local favorites, like a dish simply called Milk, which is house-made bread, a slice of Muenster cheese and hand-churned butter, as well as a personal take on a cannibal sandwich – steak tartare topped with deviled egg and bone marrow.</i>

Check out the full list below.

1. Saison, San Francisco, CA
2. Willows Inn, the Lummi Island, WA
3. Manresa, Los Gatos, CA
4. Alinea, Chicago, IL
5. Damon Baehrel at the Basement Bistro, Earlton, NY
6. The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA
7. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY
8. Sushi Taro (Omakase Counter), Washington, D.C.
9. Catbird Seat, Nashville, TN
10. Urasawa, Beverly Hills, CA
11. minibar by Jose Andres, Washington, D.C.
12. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn, NY
13. é by José Andrés, Las Vegas, NV
14. Aubergine, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
15. Eleven Madison Park, New York, NY
16. Blanca, Brooklyn, NY
17. Jean-George, New York, NY
18. Tempura Matsui, New York, NY
19. Masa, New York, NY
20. Kyo Ya, New York, NY
21. Benu, San Francisco, CA
22. Sushi Yasuda, New York, NY
23. Sushi Nakazawa, New York, NY
24. Kuruma Zushi, New York, NY
25. Providence, Los Angeles, CA
26. Castagna, Portland, OR
27. Elements, Princeton, NJ
28. Grace, Chicago, IL
29. McCrady’s, Charleston, SC
30. Momofuku Ko, New York, NY
31. Schwa, Chicago, IL
32. Trois Mec, Los Angeles, CA
33. Coi, San Francisco, CA
34. Next, Chicago, IL
35. Ichimura at Brushstroke, New York, NY
36. Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, CA
37. Hugo’s, Portland, ME
38. Marea, New York, NY
39. 42 Grams, Chicago, IL
40. Oxheart, Houston, TX
41. Nozawa Bar, Beverly Hills, CA
42. Sanford, Milwaukee, WI
43. Sushi Zo, Los Angeles, CA
44. Commis, Oakland, CA
45. Square Root, New Orleans
46. Soto, New York, NY
47. Quince, San Francisco, CA
48. Betony, New York, NY
49. The Bazaar, West Hollywood, CA
50. Birch, Providence, RI
51. Mourad, San Francisco, CA
52. Contra, New York, NY
53. Komi, Washington, D.C.
54. Blue Hill, New York, NY
55. Minetta Tavern, New York, NY
56. Gunshow, Atlanta, GA
57. Mori Sushi, Los Angeles, CA
58. Totoraku, Los Angeles, CA
59. Semilla, Brooklyn, NY
60. Nomad, New York, NY
61. Carnevino, Las Vegas, NV
62. Craft, New York, NY
63. Luksus at Torst, Brooklyn, NY
64. Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, CO
65. Estela, New York, NY
66. Sixteen, Chicago, IL
67. Orsa & Winston, Los Angeles, CA
68. Ink, West Hollywood, CA
69. Chi Spacca, Los Angeles, CA
70. Q Sushi, Los Angeles, CA
71. O Ya, Boston, MA
72. Mélisse, Santa Monica, CA
73. Commonwealth, San Francisco, CA
74. Uchi, Houston, TX
75. Volt, Frederick, MD
76. Uni, Boston, MA
77. Goosefoot, Chicago, IL
78. Shuko, New York, NY
79. Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
80. Sons & Daughters, San Francisco, CA
81. Miyake, Portland, ME
82. El Ideas, Chicago, IL
83. Alter, Miami, FL
84. Gramercy Tavern, New York, NY
85. Niche, St. Louis, MO
86. Maude, Beverly Hills, CA
87. N’Naka, Los Angeles, CA
88. Ardent, Milwaukee, WI
89. The Modern, New York, NY
90. Gabriel Kreuther, New York, NY
91. Barley Swine, Austin, TX
92. Fork, Philadelphia, PA
93. Californios, San Francisco, CA
94. Babu Ji, New York, NY
95. Shaya, New Orleans
96. Piora, New York, NY
97. Roe, Portland, OR
98. Cosme, New York, NY
99. Elizabeth, Chicago, IL
100. Baumé, Palo Alto, CA

(h/t Milwaukee Magazine's Ann Christenson)

HYFIN Program Director | Radio Milwaukee