BY NICOLE BELL | PHOTO BY LAURA DIERBECK
Sitting in the newly renovated Bacchus, one can’t help but notice the earthy, airy color palette. The restaurant was redesigned late this past summer and reopened in mid-September, ushering in a chic new look in its 15th year.
“With Bacchus, we’re resetting expectations for our customers, whether they are new to our family or have been with us since the restaurant opened in 2004,” says Paul Bartolotta, chef, owner and co-founder of the Bartolotta Restaurants. “The redesign has not only given Bacchus a new look, with upgrades to the furnishings, floors, lighting and a completely transformed dining room and bar that guests will find more inviting and comfortable, but it’s also allowed us to upgrade our service, so that we can meet their needs faster. From the menu to the atmosphere, the new Bacchus emphasizes our commitment to locally-sourced ingredients and the culinary culture of Milwaukee.”
One of the most noticeable changes is the new four-season conservatory, which takes over most of the previous patio space. Its elegant glass walls allow diners to enjoy panoramic views of beautiful Lake Michigan throughtout the winter months, while warming up with drinks at the luxurious bar and feasting on hearty dishes like the venison loin pictured above.
“I like venison going from fall ... into early winter,” says Executive Chef Nicholas Wirth. “I think a lot of people associate it with the deer hunting season, and using flavors like huckleberries and braised cabbage and [that] just seems to go with the season.”
The loin is marinated with olive oil, fresh herbs and garlic cloves, then pan-seared and served with celery root puree and cabbage that has been braised in apple cider, red wine, brown sugar, clove and a cinnamon stick for luscious fall flavors. The savory dish is topped with a huckleberry sauce to add a contrasting sweetness that unites all the flavors, according to Wirth.
“It is a good cold-weather, hearty dish,” Wirth offers. “There’s not a lot of places that you can get a really nice venison, so I think it’s one of those unique dishes that people look forward to when they do see it on the menu.”
Wirth recommends pairing the fare with a shiraz, a bold pinot noir or a lighter zinfandel to enhance the huckleberry flavors. “You don’t want to go too heavy, because it’s not like eating a ribeye steak where you have all that fat to hold up to. It’s very lean, so you want to enhance it, not just bury it in wine,” he says.
925 E. Wells St., (414) 765-1166, bartolottas.com MKE