Dining Out – Smyth

We had our first spring play at the Milwaukee Rep the other night and we decided to try a new restaurant before the play. I went to one of my favorite sites (OpenTable.com) and did a search of restaurants with openings for the time we planned for dinner.

We had visited the Iron Horse Hotel as a stop at Doors Open Milwaukee a few years ago and enjoyed it. The conversion of an old brick warehouse building to a motorcycle themed boutique hotel had been done tastefully and with care, so a return visit sounded like a good idea. A quick check of the on-line menu for the restaurant looked interesting and the final decision was easy.

We arrived just a bit before our reservation and were shown immediately to our table. The restaurant is decorated in heavy wood and iron themes, very much like the hotel. The name harkens homage to the blacksmithing trade, and the restaurant honors the trade “by creating cuisine that reflects the handcrafted, soulful trade of transforming raw materials into works of art”.

We were promptly shown to our table and we enjoyed a drink while we looked over the menu.

We started our dinner with a shared beet salad. Theresa, our server, warned us that the term “salad” did not mean “lettuce” but we went with the item regardless since we both enjoy roasted beets.

The plate was a healthy serving of roasted beets served on a bed of house made goats milk yogurt, dressed with pistachios, shaved horseradish, and balsamic. The beets had a deep, rich flavor profile and  were done with just a touch of crispness. The goat milk yogurt dressing served as a base for the beets and was creamy and just slightly tart which offset the mild sweetness of the beets. Overall, the savory beet salad was a great way to begin our dinner.

All the main entrees were served ala carte but plated with accompaniments that served as savory backdrops for the main course. They all sounded interesting but Kathy settled on the scallop entrée and I went with the chicken. We also selected a shareable plate of roasted carrots to go with dinner.

Kathy’s scallop dish looked scrumptious as served. The scallops were perfectly seared with each arranged neatly on a bed of the leek confit on a slice of oven dried tomato in a rich creamy sauce of buttermilk mayo delicately flavored with mussel.

Seared diver scallops / charred & confit leek /oven-dried tomato / caper berries / radish / buttermilk / mussel mayo

The scallops were done to perfection, opaque and warm through, with no hint of toughness. The sauce was very delicately flavored with no fishy taste. The mild blend of flavors did not overpower the smooth taste of the scallops.

My chicken three ways dish was rustically plated with three small portions of blistered farro, seasoned with mushrooms and bitter greens and then garnished with a tart cherry compote.

Miller Farms chicken three ways: sour rye fried leg, seared skin-on breast & liver mousse / blistered farro / foraged mushrooms / bitter greens / Door County cherries

The chicken leg and boneless breast appeared to be from a Cornish hen and were perfectly cooked, tender and savory. The liver mousse was a shaped deep fried ball with a crunchy shell and smooth rich inside. The tart cherry compote proved an excellent accompaniment for the chicken. The savory and slightly crunchy farrow was the perfect to-go with for the chicken that melted in the mouth.

The sharable plate of roasted carrots was large and generous for the two of us; it probably would be suitable for a table for four. Still, they were delicious. The carrots were halved along the length, roasted in the fat to a just firm texture. They were flavorful by themselves and the delicate flavor of the fat helped bring out the rustic sweet taste.

Carrots roasted in beef fat and dressed with chopped fresh green onion

Overall, our dinner at Smyth was a great introduction to the restaurant. I especially enjoyed having a dinner that provides familiar food prepared and presented in new and exciting ways that tease the taste buds. The savory blend of flavors and textures were satisfying in many ways that we would never think of nor could ever duplicate at home. That is what a dining out experience should be, and Smyth satisfied that requirement.

We both agreed that a return trip would be in order. The restaurant has a patio dining area that will be open with the warmer weather and I’d love to go back for al fresco dining. Their menu is deep with options that will provide even more opportunities to experience the chefs playful approach to blending flavors.