Story and photography by Manos Angelakis
335 Dining Studio
335 North Broadway
Green Bay, WI 54303
Dinner at 335 Dining Studio in Green Bay
A good tasting menu gives a good indication of the strengths of a particular restaurant's kitchen and the expertise of not only the executive chef but the line cooks as well.
Our 27 small-dish dinner at 335 Dining Studio, a limited-access upscale dining venue in Green Bay, showed exceptional strength in the exclusive use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients, with conversation stopping dishes that are international in concept.
We met Chef Christopher Mangless, also known as “The Traveling Chef”, earlier in the day when he was picking fresh vegetables and organically grown poultry at Twin Elm Gardens, an organic farm owned and run by a young man who decided to eschew life in a big city for the pleasures and challenges of farming life. The farm has a flock of free-range chickens and grows a wide assortment of in-season fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables as well as specialty greens such as sunflower sprouts, pea shoots, and micro-sprouts.
There is no elaborate sign outside the Dining Studio; foodies, who want to find chef Mangless, somehow do. And when they do, they have an abundance of options to explore. “All of our menus are custom” said chef Mangless. “We can really create any kind of food you like, whether it’s just hors d’oeuvres, a simple brunch, or a multi-course tasting dinner”.
He also makes sure the produce is organic and sustainable where possible, from local artisanal producers.
Chef Mangless proved that he is a culinary force. He might be based in a city away from the East or West Coast gastronomic centers; but by his dishes he proved that he can create food as good and innovative as any Michelin-starred chef I have ever met.
I’m not going to describe every one of the 27 dishes Chef Mangless presented us; just a few so that readers can get an idea of the variety and quality we experienced.
We started our evening at the second floor of the building, at what I would consider the private club space of the restaurant. It is an area with deep leather-covered arm chairs reminding of London's private dining clubs of the 50s and 60s but a lot less formal. This space has a large flat television on a neutral Grey-colored wall; the other walls were soothing beige, with artwork hanging at eye level. Tree-trunk rounds with cheeses, crackers and charcuterie were placed on assorted stands and side tables to make sure no-one would starve while a two minute presentation was made by the Chef and his executive sou-chef.
We then moved down to the ground floor where a chef’s table was set up in the kitchen area, so we could “see what was cooking”.
As I have mentioned in the past, I don’t particularly care for oysters, especially raw oysters on the half-shell. But I’m changing my views when it comes to cooked ones, and the second item on the menu was a Puffer Petite Oyster with bacon, horseradish and preserved lemon. I devoured it! The third item was also an oyster, a Daisy Bay one, raw, with cocktail ponzu and lemon. I have to admit, I passed on that.
Then came two cheese offerings. Feather Fence Chevre, whipped goat cheese with honey comb and raisin cracker; a point/counterpoint of a lovely, sharp, mildly salty, goat-cheese paste and the sweet honeycomb plus sweet raisin bread slices was a symphony for the palate. At the same time, Wisconsin artisanal cheese and charcuterie with preserved figs and apricots and crostini were also brought to the table. Different tastes, different textures, the same point/counterpoint of sweet and salty.
Of course, Wisconsin is famous for its cheese production, and during our trip we visited and tasted a number of cheeses both from small, artisan producers and a very large, Italian-style cheese factory. One thing I found interesting is that many chefs here use cheese curds, both as raw and cooked ingredients. Therefore the third cheese offering, Caprine Supreme Goat Cheese Curds with house ketchup and honey mustard was not an unexpected item.
In between the three cheese courses, Meyer Lemon Hummus with pine nuts and coriander and flatbread, and a Pastrami Pork Terrine with purslane, fresh black cherries and pumpernickel bread, were brought to the table. Hummus is a very common and prized appetizer made from ground chickpeas in the Middle East. In Lebanon, Syria, Israel and Egypt it is mixed with tahini, a paste made from ground, hulled sesame seeds, and a good amount of lemon juice. It is a refreshing intermezzo.
The Pastrami Pork Terrine was another delectable meze or a tapa (the label depends on where you were brought up). A meze is a Middle Eastern or North African tidbit brought to accompany raki (arrack) or wine, the same way as tapas or pintxos are used in the Iberian peninsula to accompany glasses of sherry or beer.
The final appetizer was a Razor Clam Crudo with blood-orange, mint, green tomato and Serrano ham; crudo is Italy’s answer to sashimi or ceviche, raw seafood or fish, in a bath of citrus juice – lemon, lime, bergamot or blood-orange – sea salt and extra virgin, very fresh, olive oil and perhaps a touch of micro-greens.
And those were just the appetizers. Then came a carrot soup, raw and cooked vegetables, salads, first courses, second courses, desserts etc. etc. As I mentioned above, 27 dishes in all.
Exceptional were: the Stuffed Squash Blossoms, the Pork Belly Fried Rice, the Mushroom Toast, the Duck Confit, the Mussels, the Door County Cherry Pie… every dish was a culinary celebration.
A multitude of beers from local microbreweries are offered, and the wine list is quite impressive.
The white wines were mostly from California and Oregon with only a French Vouvray and an Australian Semillon included. The reds were mostly from Washington State, California, a lovely Tuscan Sangiovese, A Sicilian Planeta, a Barbera from Piemonte and an excellent inexpensive Malbec from Argentina. A few Champagnes and rosÚs from France nicely rounded up the list.
My congratulations to Chef Mangless!
He took recipes from around the world and made them work together for a delicious result.
For reviews of other good upscale restaurants in the area, please see Green Bay at the Restaurant Notes section.
© October 2014 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.