Polenta on the South Side

Last night, we had the pleasure of an impromptu dinner with IIII and Dre (great hat) after a UW Oshkosh alumni reception. IIII was interested in heading to our side of town and checking out the Craftsman. Although we've enjoyed cocktails there, gerg and I had never dined there, so the opportunity was very very.

Seated at a gargantuan booth in the back corner of the restaurant, we pored over the menu. gerg was tempted by the flat iron steak, but opted instead for the Fisher Farms pork chop, served with a surprising grilled maple sausage. He said his favorite part of the dish was the new potato with cipollini onion gratin, and I tried it, and it was tasty, but a little concerned about why the best part of his $23 meal was a side item. It was creamy, oniony goodness, however. I had the oven roasted polenta with a fall vegetable ragout made with cauliflour and (perhaps turnip) greens. The ragout was buttery and not particulary seasoned. The polenta was fluffy, creamy, and totally satisfying. Worth $17? Prolly not, but it was delicious. I think IIII and Dre enjoyed their eats, but I didn't beg a critique from them.

"The Craftsman Restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients. Whenever possible, we purchase our products directly from local growers and producers who use responsible and sustainable methods of production." - from the menu.
A good amount of regional faire is on the menu - along with organic and chemical free. They strive to use local, independent growers and producers, and that's evident in their menu. Star Prairie rainbow trout, Fisher Farms pork and bacon, Wild Acres pheasant and duck, Hook's bleu cheese, grass fed lamb and beef, and an emphasis on seasonal produce give a sustainable agriculture girl (that's me) a good feeling.

The interior gives a nod to prairie design, I thought of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin design when regarding their seating and light fixtures. The open space might be a little too open for an intimate dinner. Service was friendly. Our server forgot to water our glasses until after he brought out our drinks, but I forgave him because he cracked a joke about my leftover nametage from the alumni event. He also raved about an NA beer, which gerg said wasn't particularly tastey. Then again, good-tasting NA beer isn't easy to find.

Got $130 laying around for a night out? Check out the Seven Slow Chefs event at the Craftsman on April 29. Seven chefs will each create one course using seasonal, local, sustainably produced foods served with wine.

1 comment:

David Foureyes said...

Re: My meal at the Craftsman. While the food was good, I do not think it's quality justified it's expensed, despite it being locally sourced. My venison was very good (definitely the most interesting thing on the plate) but the carmelized onions had WAY too much vinegar, making them unpleasantly sour. The yams were good, but underspiced for something as game in flavor as venison. Also, call me a purist, but I'd like SOMETHING apple-flavored when I'm eating vension since they go so well together.

Your polenta was definitely a star, pretty rare to have a veggie dish eclipse protein on a menu.

All I could think about while eating was how much better and reasonable similar dishes/preparations are at The Modern and had been at Oddfellows (RIP), which are/were also local-source/food forward restaurants.