‘Don’t miss’ dining around the state

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  1. Snug in the company town of Kohler, The Immigrant Restaurant scores high for its posh factor. The state’s only AAA five-diamond restaurant marries nicely with The American Club’s spa, golf courses and luxury overnight accommodations. Dinner starts with sushi and picks from one of the state’s lengthiest cheese lists in the Winery Bar before moving into six house-like, low-ceilinged rooms (each named for early Wisconsin settlers) for the main event, with dishes like red snapper with candied shitakes –paired with a 33-page wine list.
  2. The country’s first true farm-to-table restaurant was born in 1976, when Odessa Piper opened L’Etoile on Madison’s Capitol Square, doing all her menu shopping at the weekly farmers market. Since handing the apron over to Tory Miller (her sous chef) in 2005, the acclaim continues. Choose from an à la carte menu or a seven-course chef’s tasting menu that’s true to the season, featuring Wisconsin-grown items like Blue Valley Gardens duck with persimmon, cuitlacoche and pancetta. Special dinners roll out the red carpet, including a recent “Cellar Gems” wine dinner series with truffle-and-chestnut ravioli and Wisconsin’s own SarVecchio cheese.
  3. The quiet resort town of Bayfield hugs Lake Superior and attracts paddlers and hikers to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Foodies know to park their sunburned, happy faces for dinner at the Landmark Restaurant. Tucked into a Victorian-era dining room, Landmark resides within the Old Rittenhouse Inn, perched on a hillside with Lake Superior views. Executive chef Matt Chingo whips up eclectic dinner dishes using local ingredients like apples, berries, meats and fish (whitefish taquitos and trout piccata are two examples) for a memorable multi-course affair – paired with one of the town’s best wine lists.
  4. When La Crosse got its first boutique hotel (The Charmant) in 2016, an eclectic fine-dining option came along, too. Dubbed The Restaurant, classic French cooking techniques and a farm-to-table philosophy result in all-day fare that begins with brioche French toast with local apples and maple syrup at dawn and winds down with coq au vin and pot de crème at dusk. The “pick two” lunch option is wildly popular with locals, with rotating picks for sandwiches, salads and soups. On warm days and nights, an al fresco patio is open, overlooking the mighty Mississippi.
  5. For too long, Asian food in the Midwest has been relegated to casual dining. Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite strove to change that with DanDan, which opened in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward last summer. Delicacies like Peking duck bump up against seafood pancakes on the menu, a veritable love letter to the owners’ adoration of true Chinese food. Proof of the Dans’ ingenuity is the more recent launch of EsterEv, a 10-course tasting menu Thursday through Saturday in the private dining room.
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  1. Snug in the company town of Kohler, The Immigrant Restaurant scores high for its posh factor. The state’s only AAA five-diamond restaurant marries nicely with The American Club’s spa, golf courses and luxury overnight accommodations. Dinner starts with sushi and picks from one of the state’s lengthiest cheese lists in the Winery Bar before moving into six house-like, low-ceilinged rooms (each named for early Wisconsin settlers) for the main event, with dishes like red snapper with candied shitakes –paired with a 33-page wine list.
  2. The country’s first true farm-to-table restaurant was born in 1976, when Odessa Piper opened L’Etoile on Madison’s Capitol Square, doing all her menu shopping at the weekly farmers market. Since handing the apron over to Tory Miller (her sous chef) in 2005, the acclaim continues. Choose from an à la carte menu or a seven-course chef’s tasting menu that’s true to the season, featuring Wisconsin-grown items like Blue Valley Gardens duck with persimmon, cuitlacoche and pancetta. Special dinners roll out the red carpet, including a recent “Cellar Gems” wine dinner series with truffle-and-chestnut ravioli and Wisconsin’s own SarVecchio cheese.
  3. The quiet resort town of Bayfield hugs Lake Superior and attracts paddlers and hikers to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Foodies know to park their sunburned, happy faces for dinner at the Landmark Restaurant. Tucked into a Victorian-era dining room, Landmark resides within the Old Rittenhouse Inn, perched on a hillside with Lake Superior views. Executive chef Matt Chingo whips up eclectic dinner dishes using local ingredients like apples, berries, meats and fish (whitefish taquitos and trout piccata are two examples) for a memorable multi-course affair – paired with one of the town’s best wine lists.
  4. When La Crosse got its first boutique hotel (The Charmant) in 2016, an eclectic fine-dining option came along, too. Dubbed The Restaurant, classic French cooking techniques and a farm-to-table philosophy result in all-day fare that begins with brioche French toast with local apples and maple syrup at dawn and winds down with coq au vin and pot de crème at dusk. The “pick two” lunch option is wildly popular with locals, with rotating picks for sandwiches, salads and soups. On warm days and nights, an al fresco patio is open, overlooking the mighty Mississippi.
  5. For too long, Asian food in the Midwest has been relegated to casual dining. Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite strove to change that with DanDan, which opened in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward last summer. Delicacies like Peking duck bump up against seafood pancakes on the menu, a veritable love letter to the owners’ adoration of true Chinese food. Proof of the Dans’ ingenuity is the more recent launch of EsterEv, a 10-course tasting menu Thursday through Saturday in the private dining room.

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