By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 07, 2016 at 11:08 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

If you’ve been missing some of the non-Chinese-inspired dishes offered up by Chefs Daniel Jacobs and Dan Van Rite since the opening of dandan this past July, there’s good news on the horizon.

EsterEv, the new restaurant-within-a-restaurant concept inside dandan, opens this Thursday evening, Nov. 10, inside dandan at 360 E. Erie St.

The concept, named for Jacobs’ great-grandmother Ester and Van Rite’s grandmother Evelyn, offers one nightly seating for up to 20 diners on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cost is $80 per person for the tasting menu, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Beverage pairings for each course can be added for an additional $40 (non-alcoholic beverages are included).

The menu, which will change monthly, will be released by the 20th of the preceding month. Special requests to accommodate dietary restrictions should be made at least 72 hours in advance of the reservation.

Reservations are required and can be made online at Because seating is limited, payment is required when making reservations. Cancellations will not result in a refund; however, diners can transfer their credit to another date within a six-month period.

What to expect

When you arrive at EsterEv, you’ll be escorted to your table, where you’ll meet your dining companions. Take advantage and introduce yourself. After all, you’ve already got something in common: You’re looking forward to an evening of delicious food made by two of the city’s best chefs.

"We want to convey this idea of hospitality, like a dinner party where people can chat and get to know people they may not have met before," notes Jacobs. "We want it to feel like you’re having dinner in our home."

You’ll find the private dining area is sparse in terms of decor, but the look and feel is intimate and comfortable. Two communal tables accommodate 10 diners each, allowing diners to interact in a convivial fashion.

The tasting menu experience lasts about two and a half hours, and you'll find it well worth its $80 price tag. Jacobs and Van Rite introduce each course, which ranges from snacks and bites to smaller, but more complete courses.

We won't spoil everything for you. However, at a recent visit during EsterEv’s soft opening, we enjoyed a 10-course menu including the following lovely dishes.

A soup and salad course featured a table-side pour of matsutake broth and a salad with sliced matsutakes, parsnip chips, parsnip and foie gras mousse topped with a shaving of honey truffle.

Steak tartare was served with fried egg, Worcestershire, marrow and parsley alongside sunchoke chips on which to spread the tender, flavorful beef.

Tender housemade raviolo filled with housemade ricotta, spinach and a quail egg was served with a drizzle of browned butter.

Cured sturgeon was served atop wakame salad with pickled butternut squash, dashi and shiso.

A course of cucumber sorbet created a clean palate for desserts from Pastry Chef Jaceleen Latin-Monagle, which included Valhrona Jivara milk chocolate mousse with caramel corn.

For more information about EsterEv, or to make a reservation, visit the web site at

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.