My wife and I returned to Sanford after a several year sabbatical. We had been once or twice yearly customers of the restaurant since it opened in the late ‘80’s but with all of the new fine dining options that have popped up in the Milwaukee area over the last several decades, it sort of fell by the wayside for a few years. But we were pleased to see nothing has really changed, which is a good thing. The interior of the restaurant is still charming, subdued and intimate. Since it seats only about 50 people, the tables are close but not too close to interfere with the dining experience. Service, as in the past, was impeccable, starting with the valet to the maitre ‘D and finally the servers and serving assistants. The servers and their assistants are not obtrusive but appear just when needed to take your order, refill water glasses, replace bread sticks or to clear dishes.
We started the evening with a straight up Martini which was served in a properly refrigerator/freezer “chilled” glass, which I consider an absolute must for a straight up martini, especially in a fine dining restaurant. We both requested stuffed bleu cheese olives, which Sanford does not store so our server prepared them himself. What a nice touch. I would just suggest they eliminate the long pick for the olives since a smaller pick would not interfere with drinking it.
We both started with the priciest appetizer on the menu, which was the “Molasses Glazed Quail and Cold Cured Foie Gras*with Black Olive Jam and Grilled Ramps, Burnt Orange Vinaigrette” which we both thought was fabulous. We are huge foie gras fans and this preparation was really complimented by the baby quail and the black olive jam.
My wife selected the “Fennel Dusted Beef Tenderloin* with Yukon Puree, Escarole and Parmesan, Truffle Vinaigrette”. It was served perfectly medium-rare as ordered and the presentation would look great on the cover of any food magazine.
Since I love Elk and Sanford is one of the few places you can consistently find it on the menu, I ordered the “Chargrilled Loin and Sausage of Elk with Maple Polenta, Grilled Romaine and Roasted Mushroom, Cherry reduction”. It was also served at the requested medium-rare and was a great entrée. We were served with a hot dinner roll with out entrees which as also excellent and we resisted the temptation to ask for a second.
For dessert, we elected to split the “Bittersweet “Intentional” Hawaiian Vintage Chocolate Tart with Coffee Ice Cream” which was a delicious dessert and put the cap on an excellent meal.
I consider the prices at Sanford to be quite reasonable. Like any restaurant, you can load up your tab by going nuts with high end wines, ect. but you can have a great dining experience at a reasonable price by concentrating on the food. A lot of people consider most top end “fine dining” restaurants “splurge” meals where they are willing to over-pay for the occasional experience of a great chef preparing great food and served by great servers. In my view, Sanford is the exception. It’s rare to dine at a top fine dining and for many “special occasion” restaurants where you can walk out the door, look back and consider it a very good value. Sanford is not cheap but it’s also not overpriced for what you get. We will be back in the very near future during the week to try the “surprise tasking menu”.
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