How is it that something that isn’t even really a restaurant could be the best restaurant in Wisconsin? Well I don’t know how…but I think it just might be.
Milkweed is a private dining club* at the home of Isaac and Havvah Spicer, on Isaac’s family’s farm in the hills southwest of Spring Green. The drive from our house is beautiful, taking us through the Wisconsin River Valley past some of our favorite places. This was our second trip to Milkweed for dinner, although we’ve had a few other experiences with Isaac’s cooking.
When we arrived the first people we met were Isaac and Havvah’s young children, who seemed curious about who was coming to dinner tonight. Next was Havvah, who brought us glasses of champagne with Aronia (i.e. chokeberry) syrup, mint, and grapes- all from their garden. Before sitting down for dinner, we wandered around the gardens while we drank the champagne, picking berries from the same bush Havvah had earlier to make the syrup. You instantly feel at home here. But even though the atmosphere is casual, the service is not. During our visit, the staff was always one step ahead of any potential hiccup. This is one of the biggest attractions of Milkweed to me; they have managed to combine a friendly, approachable bearing and professionalism that would make Grant Achatz proud into a single cohesive, consistent experience.
Eventually we took our seats and the meal began. The seating at Milkweed is mostly outside and the kitchen has a wall of windows, so you can watch as your food is made. First up was a trio of melon: a honeydew cup held a ball of watermelon and a sliver of cantaloupe and mint. Next was a bacon, dried cherry and red pepper tart. The soup course was a potato bisque with roasted garlic chips, kale, and crème fraîche served with fresh bread and roasted pepper butter. The salad was a filet of lake trout served over mixed greens, roasted beets, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and pear. All pictured above.
At this point in the meal the sun had set and I didn’t want to disturb the other dinners with a camera flash, so I’m afraid the are no pictures for the rest of the meal. The main course was pork tenderloin served on a bed of thinly sliced pan fried apples and potatoes with green beans and carrots. The next course (the first dessert) was walnut shortbread and molasses cookies. The molasses cookies must be a signature, because we had them on our last visit as well. Seems like a good choice, since they are virtually perfect. With the cookies we had coffee (Kickapoo, I’m guessing). The last course was crème brûlée topped with assorted fresh berries and a candied anise hyssop leaf. The crunch of the candied leaf perfectly mirrored the hard caramel on the crème brûlée.
Leslie wants me to add that one of her favorite things about being at Milkweed is looking up at the stars during dinner. With so little light pollution (it is in the dark region north of Dodgeville in this map), you can see so much more, and the well-known constellations are a bit harder to find.
To be clear, compared to restaurants in the area, Milkweed is a bit pricey. But I’m not sure that’s the right comparison to make–Milkweed isn’t like any of the restaurants around here. Let’s put it this way: it’s about the same price as a meal at L’Etoile or the three course prix-fixe at TRU.
The title of this article is something I said to Leslie during dinner. I tend to not be satisfied with my life– I’m always looking for “more”. This can make me an unhappy person at times. But at Milkweed, I was just happy to be there. Don’t know anything better to say than that.
*Milkweed holds dinners on Friday and Saturday nights during the warmer seasons. To make arrangements for a dinner, or for more information, just give them a call.
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