By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Jul 17, 2013 at 8:15 AM

In May, Justin Carlisle, former executive chef at SURG Restaurant Group’s Umami Moto, announced his plans to open a dual-concept restaurant in the Third Ward.

Plans have since changed for Carlisle, who says that he quickly realized that if his focus was split between two restaurants on his first independent venture that the quality of the food could suffer.

Instead, Carlisle will open Ardent, a reservation-only restaurant located at 1751 N. Farwell Ave. The space, which occupies 909 square feet will blend a contemporary industrial feel with earthy and rich colors. The environment will be intimate, seating only 15-20 diners. And the mood will evoke a comfortable and casual mood which complements the simplicity of the ingredients and accommodates intimate conversation.

According to Carlisle, the restaurant, which will be open on Wednesday through Saturday evenings, will feature fresh, high quality and seasonal food from regional farms, including a farm his family owns and operates in Sparta, northeast of LaCrosse. The cuisine will focus on his love of Wisconsin ingredients cuisine – literally creations from his farm to his table.

Growing up on a small beef farm in rural Wisconsin, Carlisle developed a love of food at a very young age.  He first began his career cooking in small restaurants, where his passion for simple, yet high-quality ingredients inspired him to pursue a professional culinary career and earn a degree from Madison College.

Since then, he has worked in some of the country’s top kitchens, and has garnered multiple accolades, including multiple James Beard semi-finalist nominations for Best Chef – Midwest.

"I want to focus on quality instead of quantity because I want the restaurant to have a long and vibrant life," Carlisle says. "Ardent is the culmination of my career... Ardent equals passion."

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.