3 dishes: Chef Amado Casanova of Belfre Kitchen
What's in a restaurant? In this series, we ask chefs around the city to describe their restaurants in their own words and recommend three dishes that embody the best of what they offer. In this edition, we talk with Belfrē Kitchen's new executive chef, Amado Casanova, about the way he knits together local produce with globally inspired flavors.
"I really want guests to come into the restaurant and feel really comfortable," says Chef Amado Casanova of Belfrē Kitchen. "We have a chef-driven menu and we make beautiful food; but this is not a just a special occasion place. Our goal is to create a casual upscale environment without the pretense of fine dining.
"I really love to tap into a lot of the flavors of global cuisine, so the menu really reflects that. In addition, we really want our focus to be on the really great local produce available in this area. I'm from Madison, so I'm used to this giant farmer's market where you can get anything and everything all the time; so the challenge for me has really been getting to know the farms in the area like Yuppie Hill and Pink Tipi Farms.
"I'd rather change the menu in response to a great product that is coming in from one of the farms than to begin with a protein and go from there. For instance, we just got in some samples beautiful Red Zebra tomatoes from Pink Tipi, and they're begging to be on a BLT. So, we'll wait until we get a volume of them in and put a sandwich on the menu.
"In that way, I want the produce to really drive the menu. Currently, we're doing a lot of pickling and preserving. I'm making black garlic for the winter months from Ukrainian garlic from Farm to Mouth Farms, and as the season moves forward, I'll be looking at ways to preserve summer fruits and vegetables as well as using some of the winter root vegetables."
Pancetta, Brussels sprouts, Ukrainian garlic oil, local mozzarella and shredded Sarvecchio ($11)
"I found Brussels sprouts at the market; they were a bit young. But, I really wanted to find a way to work them into the menu. Nostalgia for me is cabbage and bacon or Brussels sprouts and bacon. So, this is really inspired by that. Those flavors pair really well with the flavor of the garlic, so we incorporated the garlic oil as well."
2. Vegetable hash
Seasonal vegetables, roasted potatoes ($14)
"The hash is likely to change every week, if not every day we have brunch. It's a great way to showcase the local vegetables that we have, especially the ones that are readily available to us in Delafield. This version has rainbow chard is from Pink Tipi and the Dragon beans are from Farm to Mouth. It's paired with crisp, roasted potatoes; the fingerling potatoes are starting to appear at the market, so we'll switch to those soon. And the eggs are from Yuppie Hill farms."
Housemade Pin Oak lamb sausages with roasted smashed fingerlings, apple fennel choucroute and lamb jus ($22)
"I worked with Pin Oak a lot when I was working at Harvest in Madison. I'd braise it for some of our special dinners. Paired with a nice garlic and onion mix, it would just sing to me. So I thought, why not make sausage? After all, sausage is totally Wisconsin, and it's a classic comfort food. One of our goals is to give people great comforting fare with a twist that might be beyond what you get at home. The choucroute is reminiscent of a sauerkraut, but more fresh and really using things that are coming into season."
Belfrē Kitchen is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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