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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012

Braise Elevates Milwaukee Dining Scene

'Community Supported Restaurant' highlights local ingredients

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With a number of restaurants opening in formerly shuttered spots, Walker's Point is showing signs of a dining boom. The latest opening is Braise, located in the former M's bar. The remodeled Braise is an ambitious project—part restaurant and part cooking school. Chef/owner David Swanson focuses his menu on locally sourced foods.

Braise offers a very pleasant setting. The front room, featuring a bar and a few tables, has a rustic character—rustic as in Aspen, Colo. The rear dining room is where you will find even more action. The room, dominated by two communal tables constructed with wood from the building's former bowling alleys, has a second bar where patrons can spy on kitchen activities or watch the brick oven in use. The items prepared in this kitchen are all very tempting.

The menu presents three categories: the "Butcher Block," or bar menu, the "Main" menu, with the entrées, and the "Dessert" menu.

The house-pickled green tomato risotto with paprika oil ($5-$9) is an ideal starter that captures the spirit of Braise. It is a bit daring, with the tart flavor of the tomatoes dominating, but everything works together, including the tiny bits of pancetta. The larger size is suitable as a small entrée.

The bar menu offers pork roulade with pozole and pickling juice ($6). Tender, succulent pork is served over the pozole and topped with micro greens. The serving is as large as some of the entrées.

Consider a flatbread as well. One option is topped with duck confit, blue cheese and arugula pesto. This dish, which includes a few fresh greens with a lemon dressing, will disappear quickly.

Now that the taste buds have been tantalized, it is time to choose a main course. On the vegetarian route is kohlrabi curry with lime yogurt ($9-$18), a gentle curry by Indian standards that mixes garbanzo beans with diced kohlrabi. The yogurt adds a touch of refreshment.

The mushroom and leek lasagna with Parmesan ($16) is not your standard lasagna, as the pasta is made in house, from scratch. Leek slices are layered with a few different types of mushrooms and topped with creamy béchamel sauce—another satisfying dish.

Lamb veal and pork are among the meat entrées. Another option is seared duck breast with duck confit ravioli and cumin vinaigrette ($24). The sliced duck breast is on the medium-rare side—just right—and some pieces of sweet potato are thrown in as well. The thin ravioli are also pleasing.

Keep in mind that this is a fluid menu, depending on the daily availability of ingredients. The preparations and ingredients are all subject to change.

The bar menu offers a few specialty cocktails in addition to a beer list featuring Wisconsin craft brews. The small but thoughtful wine list is sold by the glass or bottle.

Braise is a "Community Supported Restaurant." Members may purchase vouchers in packages ranging from $250 to $5,000. The basic level includes three $100 dinner vouchers. The upper levels add cooking classes, a kitchen work-share program, and an Urban Ecology Center family membership, among other perks. Whether a member or not, Braise offers everyone a winning experience. This is one of the finest restaurants to open in this area in quite some time.

Braise

1101 S. Second St.

(414) 212-8843

$$-$$$

Credit Cards: All Major

Handicap Accessible

braiselocalfood.com

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