Dream Dance is frequently regarded as one of Milwaukee's finest restaurants -- but unless you've been deep inside Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 1721 W. Canal St., there's a good chance you've missed it.
That just might change this summer as Dream Dance relocates to the new expansion wing of the casino, and if you take nothing else out of this article, remember this: the new restaurant is just yards from an outside entrance -- and it has its own bathrooms.
That's significant for a few reasons: even though the old location was quiet, refined and elegant, you had to pass through a smoky bingo hall to get in -- and if you needed to use the restrooms, you had to travel back through the casino.
Now, valet parking means that you can almost completely bypass the one-armed bandits en route to Dream Dance's innovative "New Wisconsin" cuisine.
Despite a contemporary, sophisticated, new design with more room, head chef Jason Gorman says a lot will remain the same at Dream Dance when it officially opens in early July.
But he plans to take everything up a notch.
"All the things you've come to know and love about Dream Dance will be there," says Gorman. "The personalized service, the memorable dining experience -- what we're trying to do is enhance a little bit what we've already done in the restaurant, but take the cuisine one step further."
Remaining the same is the wine selection of more than 850 bottles (in a specially-designed cellar), which is headed up by sommelier Nathaniel Bauer.
But the European-style kitchen that Gorman has designed is what makes the restaurant's next phase possible, says Gorman. Unlike a Western-style kitchen, in which cooks put together complete dishes, the island shape of Dream Dance's kitchen lets cooks focus on one component -- allowing Gorman to assemble every dish.
"I, personally, will be plating all the food," says Gorman, who adds that he's a chef who still loves to cook and not just coordinate.
Gorman says that it's special to plan his own kitchen, and he appreciates that the casino gave him that kind of latitude.
"They definitely provided me with the resources to be successful," he says.
Gorman says he will still focus on his New Wisconsin cuisine and developing a restaurant that he calls "approachable, fine dining."
In addition to old favorites, he's emulating the old-school supper club lazy Susan condiments tray, but replacing the relish and pickles with elegant canapés.
"Picture all things you might come to think of as Wisconsin's food but elevated to a gourmet status," says Gorman. "The presentations with the food have evolved. We're taking a little more of a detailed approach to it. Our vision is to serve some of the most beautiful food you'll see in Milwaukee. We want to put Milwaukee on the map, from a fine dining perspective."
As for the direct entry, Gorman says the new design has a more Las Vegas-style appeal.
"I don't think it was that difficult with the old entrance, but I guess some people had problems with escalators," he says, only half-kidding. "We're excited about having the first floor access, the beautiful champagne bubble chandelier, the private dining rooms, restrooms in the restaurant, the new kitchen and the expanded bar.
"For us, it's everything we could've ever hoped for."
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.