By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer 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

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.