Even in a pandemic, Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants stay committed to delivering home-grown goodness
Written by Molly Liebergall
In the biting cold of Wisconsin winter, a hearty, wholesome meal feeds more than just the stomach. Restaurants across the state — especially in the culinary-rich downtown Madison — take special care to provide customers with food for the soul that originates from small Wisconsin growers. Organic, locally sourced meals connect patrons with farmers, a bond that some establishments manage to maintain even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether you’re looking for a socially distant dining experience, a carry-out meal or more, these 12 farm-to-table restaurants hit the mark.
Nestled on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison, this nationally recognized farm-to-table restaurant remains firmly rooted in regional farming. Since 2000, Harvest has graced Dane County with organic, locally-sourced and seasonally inspired dishes. The limited menu during the pandemic currently offers a hearty selection ranging from roasted beet salad to coq au vin.
21 N. Pinckney St., Madison
In the land of farmland and comfort food, Graze combines both on a platter. The restaurant’s team puts detailed care not just into its dishes, but also into sourcing crops and cattle. Graze gets almost all of its ingredients from dozens of small farms throughout Wisconsin, taking extra care to choose locations where food is raised with its own well-being in mind — from grass-fed beef to acorn and whey-fed hogs.
1 S. Pinckney St., Madison
Farm Table restaurant, located in the northwestern town of Amery, is one side of the Farm Table Foundation’s mission to foster the development of local cuisine and culture. The other — a combination of educational seminars, research and training sessions — has persisted despite the pandemic with online events on topics like sustainable beekeeping. The restaurant remains open Thursday through Sunday with a menu full of artisanal cheeses.
110 Keller Ave. N., Amery
With a heated rooftop deck, Braise is set to withstand the coming cold while offering its patrons a safer way to dine. If you’d still like to avoid public places altogether, though, you can replicate Braise’s bolognese and other wholesome meals in your own kitchen by calling them up and ordering a recipe kit, updated daily.
1101 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee
“Come as you are, leave like family,” reads the Twisted Willow’s homepage. Staffed by culinary experts with decades of experience and passion for good food, the restaurant specializes in heirloom recipes and handcrafted cocktails that source ingredients from its namesake farm. Executive Chef Dan Wiken is professionally trained and has catered for political and entertainment elites like Barack Obama and Elton John.
308 N. Franklin St., Port Washington
Field to Fork
This restaurant/café/grocery store hybrid puts its receipts right on the menu. Field to Fork lists the farm where each ingredient came from, which lets you know that if you order The Ranger Omelette, for example, you will be getting eggs from Yuppie Hill Farms in Burlington, ham from Willow Creek in Prairie Du Sac and cheddar cheese from Widmer’s in Theresa.
511 S. 8th St., Sheboygan
Ranked second on TripAdvisor out of 27 restaurants in Verona, Jordandal Cookhouse is an unassuming eatery that shares a storefront strip with a nail salon and a Chinese restaurant. Inside this small, counter-serve shop, an operation dedicated to Wisconsin farmers churns out nightly specials, bundles of Madison Farmers Unite produce and bulk meat boxes available for curbside pickup and non-contact delivery.
600 W. Verona Ave., Verona
Back When Café
Owner and chef Jolene Lucci brings the nostalgia of her childhood farm life to Wisconsin with Back When Café, a downtown farm-to-table staple since 1991. Just like her parents and grandmother back home in Washington, Lucci only cooks dishes with the best organic produce from local farms. She and her husband/co-owner Glenn Lucci are members of the Slow Food movement.
606 N. 3rd St., Wausau
The Black Sheep
Aptly named for its commitment to doing things differently, The Black Sheep is a neo-supper club, using almost entirely locally-sourced ingredients to put a high-end spin on classics and comfort food. Head chef and founder Tyler Sailsbery was a farm boy who has since built a culinary career. The Black Sheep offers an expansive seasonal menu for dine-in, carry-out and delivery, but it also has a few permanent entrees, including lamb ravioli and chicken piccata.
210 W. Whitewater St., Whitewater
Unlike other farm-to-table restaurants on this list, Lark uses local ingredients to spotlight the wide variety of influences on American cuisine, not just traditional Wisconsin dishes. The word “lark” can mean an adventure or quest for amusement, which is exactly what the restaurant’s team attempts to provide for its customers, according to its website. Fried stuffed olives to start, followed by Tuscan sausage soup and then hazelnut carrot cake for dessert is just one combination of Lark’s colorful assortment of small and large plates.
60 S. Main St., Janesville
Driftless Café takes advantage of Vernon County’s 200 certified organic farms to deliver a constantly changing menu of twists on wholesome favorites. Since the pandemic, the staff has added new space inside and plexiglass dividers to make its dining experience as safe as possible. “We love you. We miss you. Come see us,” its website reads.
118 W. Court St., Viroqua
You’ve heard of farm-to-table, now get ready for farm-to-bar. Driftless Glen is a distillery and restaurant that serves higher-end pub fare with an emphasis on its three-page-long menu of home-grown spirits. Customers over 21 can get a flight of three spirits for $10, and families can keep the kids happy with a cheeseburger and root beer for the same price.
300 Water St., Baraboo