Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2022-05-27 14:08:44 –
Birch chef Kyle Knoll (Pleasant and Water in Downtown Milwaukee) has not only been nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef, but is also a really nice person to make Milwaukee his hometown. Born and raised in Alabama, the two met their wife from Brookfield and spent 10 years in New York City pursuing their dreams before landing in Milwaukee. Returning to her wife’s hometown when a pandemic occurred gave us this wonderful chef. Why did he like the name Birch? The birch tree is simply a perfect metaphor, as it is the first to return after a cold and desolate winter.
As I’ve said many times, I’ve lived and ate in New York for 10 years, so when I sat down at the Birch chef’s counter (highly recommended), I talked to New York restaurants and neighbors before starting business. I did. I met chef Kyle at a greenhouse dinner at Stonebank Farm earlier this month and enjoyed a lovely shared dinner with a stranger. Usually their dinner is in their barn, but thanks to the early May weather in Wisconsin, we enjoyed the greenhouse. This monthly event is great, and everyone has to go someday. Even better, Farm and Birch are sister stores. Farm ingredients go to the birch table, and in-store or catered menu items are created by Kyle with the help of chef Zack Nelsen.
The menu covers all bases for an elegant evening meal. I chose the chef’s tasting. In other words, when it comes to ordering, “I left it to them.” The tasting menu depends on the seasonal menu, the full menu, and the chef’s evening mood, so I won’t go into too much detail. But it was an incredible culinary journey with colorful, flavorful surprises at every moment, from start to finish. I’m relieved to know that many of tonight’s ingredients are just a short drive from Okonomo Wok, but for me, I’ll leave the finest food to the experts while enjoying the scenery. From handmade plates to handmade plates, this place is locally sourced and completely chic.
The restaurant is an open kitchen concept where you can see, hear and feel the movement of the kitchen. The warmth of the hearth and the passion for cooking are cozy and attractive. I took good care of me throughout my stay. If you’re eating here and don’t choose the chef’s tasting, grilled garlic focaccia is a must. The pasta stuffed with lamps and ricotta cheese is delicious and is definitely chicken under the bricks. To be honest, everything is great if they aren’t your protein or flavor.
The nod to the former restaurant in this space is the chef’s kiss to how the industry works. It’s a completely different facility, but it has a very friendly atmosphere. That’s always been the case in Wisconsin, so it’s strange to think that “farm-to-table” has always been the trend. It is impressive that the chef of this caliber not only is recognized in his work, but also understands the satisfying palette and incredible potential of this small but wonderful city of Milwaukee.
The award will be awarded. Don’t wait for the thaw. Birch is probably the best place to warm up those tastes while preserving the local tastes.