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    Post #1 - May 12th, 2005, 12:48 pm
    Post #1 - May 12th, 2005, 12:48 pm Post #1 - May 12th, 2005, 12:48 pm
    Have reservations at Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee. Not real familar with it other than a good reputation. Anyone care to give me an idea of what to expect?
  • Post #2 - May 12th, 2005, 4:56 pm
    Post #2 - May 12th, 2005, 4:56 pm Post #2 - May 12th, 2005, 4:56 pm
    I ate there some 10 years ago, so this information may be out of date. Back then, it was a tasting menu similar to a Tru or Trotters and was quite excellent.

  • Post #3 - May 12th, 2005, 7:26 pm
    Post #3 - May 12th, 2005, 7:26 pm Post #3 - May 12th, 2005, 7:26 pm
    Although I haven't eaten at Sanford in two years or so, it is one of my favorite restaurants, and I have had nothing but excellent meals there. I used to say - to be somewhat provocative - that my favorite restaurant in the Chicagoland area was Sanford - and from where I live in the northern suburbs it is sometimes quicker to get to Sanford than to Tru.

    I have been impressed by the range of cuisine that Sanford D'Amico is able to bring off so skillfully. I have had some wonderful Indian dishes there, although the speciality is New American cuisine.

    The prices are high, but far less than the best restaurants in Chicago. Enjoy. And give us a description of your dinner.
  • Post #4 - May 13th, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Post #4 - May 13th, 2005, 11:04 pm Post #4 - May 13th, 2005, 11:04 pm
    Wow! Quite a meal. I am certain my lovely wife and I will be reliving the experience for a few days.

    Thought I'd do a review of sorts while it still fresh in mind.

    Did the 7 course chefs choice menu...and accompanying wines, so please excuse a less than detailed report! Names of the dishes are my own description, without a doubt different than as described so elequently by the server.

    Amuse: Leek puree. Served in a shot glass, nicely tangy with a pickled vegetable vinegary note. OK - nothing outstanding but served the purpose of "awakening the taste buds"

    Seared curried scallop in green thai curry souce. Actually a double currey - scallop had a yellow indian style curry crust in a green thai curry sauce with papaya "noodles". Wine: a nice semi dry steely riesling. My impressions: very good. I wish I could pull off a green curry sauce at home that is that flavorful without the searing heat. The reisling was a conventional but good choice

    Striped bass on a bed of stewed eggplant with a basil/saffron broth. Wine: a new zealand Savignon Blanc that was so tasty I wish I would have written down the name! My impressions: very good. Sauce was so yummy that I stole the remainder of the lovely wifes bread for sopping purposes. Wine match was obvious but ever so good...nice complement betwen the herbaceousness of the wine and the sauce.

    Molasses glazed Squab (also had a nice spice rub), with endive and a bacon oat cake (sort of like a biscuit but better!). Wine: sanford rose pinot nior. This was starting to get exciting, very much a dish that the sum of the parts far exceeded the individual elements. We both realized that these dishes were not for the to dive in and try to grab a bit of everything in every bite. Great combination of flavors. The wine was a bit flabby for such a flavorful dish. But the waiter must have read our minds as he stopped by to ask our impressions of the food/wine match and when I explained that the wine seemed a bit weak for the dish, he promptly showed up with a full blown earthy pinot that was a super match with the smoky bacon in the oat cake.

    Lamb loin in a moroccan sauce on a frisee salad and grilled endive. Another one where the sum of its parts far exceed each individual taste. The lovely wife was raving about this one, but I found it excellent but not inspiring. wine: a rhone, good but not memorable

    Asian style beef fillet with grilled bok choy and some kind of extraodrinarily delicious eggplant slice. I wish I could bottle the aromas on this dish. Wine: rosenbloom zinfandel. Wow! Wow! Wow! I love it when the smell of a dish are as good as it tastes. And the wine match was spot on...not a match that I would have found on my own, but just plain flat out tasty

    I am an avid home chef, and use my restaurant meals for inspiration. The next dish simply wiped me was so good, but I simply cant even begin to think how to recreate it at home: Pineapple soup with lichi sorbet. How did they get it so savory without being mindblowingly acidic from the pineapple? The lovely wife advised me that it woudl be unseemly to lick the inside of the bowl.

    desert; By far the most "controversial" dish of the meal. A mascarpone cheese/poppy seed/lemony tart with a sour cherry sauce and anise/sour cream ice cream. Both of us ate every bite, but the lovely wife felt disatisfied as it was not really desert...too savory and not sweet enough (and of course, wheres the chocolate!). I am less of a sweet fan, and was delighted. "wine" pairing was a very funky belgian style cherry lambic beer. I found the food/beverage pairing to be the most eye opening of the evening, and frankly felt honored that they would try a risky match like that with us.

    service: good, comfortable, not too formal. Seemed to react when he realized we were "foodies" and adjusted the explanations accordingly. I wonder if they also reacted in term of the dishes and beverages as things certainly got more adventurous as the evening unfolded

    menu: I think only two of the courses were on the menu, but many of the dishes reconfigured elements of dishes that were on the menu. I was impressed to see that the chefs choice really did differ from table to table. That bodes well for a return visit and some new advetures!

    wine pairings: 5 of 6 were super, and two were inspired

    cost: 275 after tip (ouch)
  • Post #5 - October 22nd, 2006, 7:13 pm
    Post #5 - October 22nd, 2006, 7:13 pm Post #5 - October 22nd, 2006, 7:13 pm
    North Chicago -- Sanford Restaurant

    As I frequently announce, my favorite Chicago restaurant is to be found in Milwaukee (perhaps I exaggerate, but only slightly). Sanford, the eponymous restaurant of Chef Sanford D'Amico is a gem, benefitting from its relative absence of the glare of national publicity. (It did make Gourmet magazine's list of the Top 50 American restaurants). Since 1989, Sandy D'Amico has been turning out complex, thrilling dishes in a room that is quiet and sedate. Sanford is a restaurant that doesn't feel the need to hire Norman Foster to design their toilets. After meals at Moto, Alinea, or Avenues, Sanford may seem a bit old-fashioned, but fashion is not always what it is cracked up to be. Sanford's dishes have more in common with those of Trotter, a thoughtful global cuisine, but with a penchant for game (a delightfully undercooked chargrilled loin of elk was on the menu.

    My friends and I ordered from the menu (declining the seven course tasting menu at $85; most main courses at Sanford are priced in the low $30s).

    My appetizer will surely make my list of the top ten dishes of the year, Lacquered Squab with Salt Cured Foie Gras, Candied Leeks, Rhubarb Compote and Maple Gel. Just like Chicago in an alternative universe that lacks a Councilman Joe Moore. As good as the slightly salted duck liver was, the squab, with its Chinese taste notes, was even better. Although the dish had a sweetness, the sugar was never overpowering. Diners may believe that they love a stark cuisine, but a little bit of maple is a joy. While I sometimes complain about excess complexity, on this plate, all the ingredients combined in exquisite harmony.

    To complete the theater of culinary cruelty, only veal can match foie gras. (Once we win the battle of moulard, let us celebrate with some ortolans.) I selected Chargrilled Loin of Strauss Veal with 17 Hour Veal Breast, Crispy Onion Potatoes, Tart Apple and Endive. And no, the veal wasn't slaughtered 17 hours after its birth, that refers to the slow cooking, capturing the essential juices of meat. Here was another excellent dish that reveled in its complexity. The veal was splendid, and the accompaniments added much to each bite. The weakness of the plate was in the chef's generosity in providing accompaniments, which lacked poetry apart from the meat.

    Dessert was a richly adequate Banana Butterscotch Toffee Tart with Banana Rum Ice Cream. It was precisely what one might imagine from the description. Very pretty, but more at home at a restaurant with a less creative vision. Chef D'Amico has just opened a high-end Bakery in downtown Milwaukee (Harlequin Bakery) and the dessert seemed not all that different from a tart one might purchase from an excellent public bakery.

    On the basis of this recent visit Sanford D'Amico shows no sign of slowing down. His dishes seem neither stale or trendy. Perhaps being head chef in a one-veal town allows one to escape the harsh, hot spotlight of the national gourmet maw. And we Chicagoans like that just fine.

    1547 North Jackson Street

    Camera unavailable
  • Post #6 - June 29th, 2009, 7:06 am
    Post #6 - June 29th, 2009, 7:06 am Post #6 - June 29th, 2009, 7:06 am
    I just read an article about Sanford's in Milwaukee in the Wall Street Journal. I'm thinking about going there for dinner, staying overnight in Milwaukee and then driving up to Madison for the farmers market. Anybody tried Sanford's?
  • Post #7 - June 29th, 2009, 9:09 am
    Post #7 - June 29th, 2009, 9:09 am Post #7 - June 29th, 2009, 9:09 am
    It was proably a decade ago, but it was terrific. Reports I've read since seem to indicate it's still just as good. Sanford's on Friday and the Madison farmer's market on Saturday sounds like an awesome trip. Don't eat before going to the farmer's market. Between the cheese tastings and the all the pastries for sale, you'll want to be hungry.

  • Post #8 - June 30th, 2009, 9:22 am
    Post #8 - June 30th, 2009, 9:22 am Post #8 - June 30th, 2009, 9:22 am
    Here is a link to the WSJ article: ... 95190.html
  • Post #9 - June 30th, 2009, 1:30 pm
    Post #9 - June 30th, 2009, 1:30 pm Post #9 - June 30th, 2009, 1:30 pm
    We had an exquisite meal there in early December of 2008 (just like your plans, went for an overnight to eat, see the art museum, and the markets). I recall foie gras, duck, scallops, chanterelle soup, all in really layered and inventive preparations. It was one of the most impressive meals I've ever had.
  • Post #10 - June 30th, 2009, 2:30 pm
    Post #10 - June 30th, 2009, 2:30 pm Post #10 - June 30th, 2009, 2:30 pm
    Our meal there back in 2005 was fantastic. Here's a slightly edited version of a report I wrote about it at that time . . .

    Even the whole-grain breadsticks which we received at the start were distinctive. They were absolutely delicious; nicely salty and with a perfect hint of rosemary. A very portentious start, as it turned out.

    We ordered the Mushroom and Yukon Gold appetizer. The four of us were nearly clanking forks trying to snarf it down. We all thought it was delicious. From there, the meal just got more enjoyable.

    For my appetizer, I ordered a terrific salad of Field Greens, Serrano ham, Aged Asiago Cheese and Brittle Pear Wafers. It was served with an Orange-Garlic vinaigrette that was sublime. The flavors married up well together and the salad was just excellent. And I personally liked the "riff" on ham and cheese, that being in Milwaukee, provided me with a chuckle. This salad was so great, even my shirt loved it

    My wife's appetizer was the Shrimp and Pea Ravioli with Green Papaya Salad and Thai Curry Broth. I was expecting that this dish would perhaps be a milder "esque" version but instead, it blew us away with its heat and distinctively bright flavors.

    I also tasted the signature Grilled Pear and Gorgonzola Tart with Caramelized Onions and Walnuts. Damn! It was just out of this world. I can see why it's become one of Sanford's signature items.

    With the appetizers we enjoyed a bottle of 2001 Weinbach Cuvee St. Catherine Clos du Capucins. It was absolutely fantastic and paired up very nicely with my appetizer.

    My entree was the Seared Sea Scallops and Lobster on Kohlrabi and Tarragon Potatoes with Red Wine Lobster Sauce. This dish really hummed. The seafood was incredibly fresh and cooked to delicate perfection. I love kohlrabi and this was absolutely delicious . . . tender, starchy (but not overly so) and packed with flavor. The sauce tied the dish together very nicely.

    My wife ordered the Grilled Breast of Duck with Parsley Napkin Dumplings and Bacon Paprika Vinaigrette. Duck, bacon, paprika . . . hard to go wrong there and this dish was fantastic. The vinaigrette was "dip worthy" and I was happy that I had some great house-baked bread to sop it up.

    With the entrees, we had a 2000 Domaine Leroy Auxey-duresses. As much as I loved the first wine, this one was even more enjoyable. Again, it paired nicely with my entree but this would have been good with anything. It was liquid velvet in a bottle. Both wines were selected by one the friends with whom we were dining.

    Desserts, ordered at the outset, were also remarkable. We each ordered a tart: Plum, Banana, Cherry (actually a Clafoutis in tart form) and Macadamia Nut, the last of which was the hands-down winner, but they were all great. Macadamia nuts just become something else when they are warmed and served just slightly soft. Wow! And even better than the tarts were the house-made ice creams served alongside them. I especially love the Banana Rum version served with the Banana Tart but the Cinnamon version which was served with the Plum tart was among the best ice creams I've ever had. The Coconut and Morello Chery ice creams (served with the Macadamia Tart and Cherry Clafoutis, respectively) were also fantastic. It's no surprise that in the Dairyland that is Wisconsin, they turn out great ice cream. I believe that Sanford could close up his place, open an ice cream shop and become wildly successful all over again.

    Service was exceptional and friendly. Sanford and Angie were very kind to us as was everyone else at Sanford. Even the valet had great advice for us on how to best navigate the annoying closure of I-794 on our way home. As expected, prices were a bit lower than they would have been at the same dinner in Chicago -- a bonus! But let me say that meal would have been worth it even Chicago price levels. Dinner at Sanford was a truly great dining experience.


    Sanford Restaurant
    1547 N Jackson St
    Milwaukee, WI 53202
    414 276-9608
    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #11 - July 2nd, 2009, 1:44 pm
    Post #11 - July 2nd, 2009, 1:44 pm Post #11 - July 2nd, 2009, 1:44 pm
    I'm hoping for a weekend in August when the Madison Farmer's market will be at its best. I'll let you know if it is still as good as you remember.
  • Post #12 - July 2nd, 2009, 2:26 pm
    Post #12 - July 2nd, 2009, 2:26 pm Post #12 - July 2nd, 2009, 2:26 pm
    Jean Blanchard wrote:I'm hoping for a weekend in August when the Madison Farmer's market will be at its best. I'll let you know if it is still as good as you remember.

    After that meal nearly 4 years ago, I vowed that we'd get back there soon but unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, it just hasn't happened. I'd love to go back see how it compares now. I'll be curious to hear about your experience, Jean. I think your idea/timing will be perfect.

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #13 - July 5th, 2009, 4:20 am
    Post #13 - July 5th, 2009, 4:20 am Post #13 - July 5th, 2009, 4:20 am
    Sanford is still on top of it's game. It just got a write up, along with another Milwaukee restaurant and a place in Duluth as "Three places Great Lakes foodies go for superior meals " in the Wall Street Journal: ... 95190.html
    As a Wisconsinite who goes there on a regular basis I can say you will not be disappointed.


    P.S. Oops! I just skimmed the thread and missed the fact that the WSJ article link was already posted. Sorry.
  • Post #14 - July 5th, 2009, 7:19 pm
    Post #14 - July 5th, 2009, 7:19 pm Post #14 - July 5th, 2009, 7:19 pm
    No problem. That's where I originally read about Sanford's and I'm glad to hear from a "regular" that it's going to be worth the trip!
  • Post #15 - November 4th, 2013, 1:02 pm
    Post #15 - November 4th, 2013, 1:02 pm Post #15 - November 4th, 2013, 1:02 pm
    My wife and I decided to head to Milwaukee for a quick trip, having never been before in the five or so years we've lived in Chicago. Sanford was the top choice for restaurants, at least from the little bit of internet research I did showed. We ate at Sanford on a Friday night and had a fantastic meal that would stand up with basically any restaurant we've been to in Chicago (albeit we haven't visited many of the nicest places in town like Alinea, Grace, El Ideas, etc.).

    We opted for the Chef's Surprise Menu with the wine pairings and even with the "surprise" element stressed, they were happy to exclude certain items from consideration (my wife can't stand anything with lobster in it). On top of the food, listed below, I would just say that the service was top notch to the extent that when a staff-member (not our waiter) overheard us talking to the table next to us about how much we liked elk in response to a woman at the table's exclamations of how great her elk dish from the a la carte menu was, that was relayed to the kitchen and we ended up with an elk course.

    Before I reproduce the menu I'd just note a couple of things that stood out. The elk was our favorite savory dish, followed closely by the black cod and tomato soup. The amuse bouche was also fantastic, the very essence of a great everything bagel with smoked fish spread but in one bite and with a totally different texture. Finally, I need a moment to discuss the awesomeness of the pound cake in which half the fat came from butter and half from rendered fat from speck. Just imagine angels singing in the background as you bite into and chew this cake and you'll get some of what it was like to eat it (and I normally don't even like cake - I have pie on my birthday, instead).

    I can't recommend Sanford more highly. Yes, it's expensive ($325ish with tax and tip), but if you've got the money to spend, you won't be disappointed.

    Amuse Bouche - Pickled tuna, trout mousse, caraway onions

    Seared sea scallop, pickled fennel, caponata, toasted pine nuts; 1312 Cava

    Roasted Tomato soup, grape tomatoes, shrimp, and mint; Riesling (approaching the sweetness of a kabinet)

    Black cod, soba noodles, hoisin fiber barbecue sauce, cilantro green curry; Demi-sec Vouvrat (Chenin Blanc)

    Duck Breast, frisée, Brussels sprouts, pickled cherries, red wine cherry sauce; Tempranillo

    Elk loin, cape gooseberries, potato purée, broccoli, truffle reduction; Central Coast Pinot Noir

    Chilled plum soup, black currant sorbet

    Dessert Maple speck pound cake, rhubarb compote, bourbon barrel iced cream; yalumba moscato

    Mini bars: chocolate chip with walnut; classic shortbread; Turkish delight; decaf espresso
  • Post #16 - August 24th, 2014, 12:08 pm
    Post #16 - August 24th, 2014, 12:08 pm Post #16 - August 24th, 2014, 12:08 pm
    Let me put in another good word for Sanford, which, considering the quality of the cuisine, is quite a good value. Most of the appetizers are in the $10-15 range, entrees $30-35, and desserts $10-15, and I took advantage of the 4-course Summer tasting menu ($49), which included wonderfully light squash blossoms, a refreshing gazpacho (with subtle elements of cucumber and garlic), an exquisitely sauteed swordfish (as moist as could be without even a hint of rawness), and a peach tart where the peaches were actually the highlight. The wine list, too, has lots of moderately priced options (many bottles between $30 and $40, with a good number of half-bottle choices as well), and although the soft, flavorful Malbec we chose did not go as well as I had hoped with the swordfish, it provided good company to the the beef tenderloin (perfectly rare) that my wife ordered. To round it all off she had a smoky smoked trout appetizer, although the heirloom carrots that were the reputed stars of the dish were oddly flavorless (the one and only downside to the meal). But I will continue to gladly suffer through a few bites of parsnips (or whatever they were) masquerading as carrots for a meal like that with a price under $200 for the two of us.
    "The fork with two prongs is in use in northern Europe. In England, they’re armed with a steel trident, a fork with three prongs. In France we have a fork with four prongs; it’s the height of civilization." Eugene Briffault (1846)