Restaurant Spotlight: Immigrant Restaurant

Located at a destination resort in Wisconsin, this luxurious restaurant offers stunning wine and cheese lists

Restaurant Spotlight: Immigrant Restaurant
The Immigrant Restaurant offers six dining rooms, each with their own decor that reflects the region's mix of cultures. (Courtesy of Immigrant Restaurant)
Oct 20, 2022

Paying homage to “America’s Dairyland,” Immigrant Restaurant brings new meaning to “Midwestern fine dining” from a snug set of rooms in the American Club in Kohler, Wis., not far from the scenic coast of Lake Michigan. A Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner since 2005, the restaurant is inspired by local history and, true to its name, its six dining rooms represent the different cultures that arrived in Wisconsin during the early days of statehood: French, Danish, Dutch, German, English and Norman.

Former Kohler Corp. chairman Herbert V. Kohler Jr.—who passed away earlier this year—founded the American Club in 1981, growing it from a small hotel into a prestigious resort with four golf courses, a water spa, a hunting-fishing reserve and, of course, fine dining, all surrounded by picturesque woodlands. It’s the sort of place where jackets are still required for gentlemen at dinner at the more formal Immigrant, but all the dining options are Green Restaurant Certified, demonstrating their efforts to reduce food waste.

 A sommelier in the wine cellar of Immigrant Restaurant in Kohler, Wisc.
Immigrant Restaurant's wine team draws from a cellar inventory of 5,500 bottles to sources pairings for the seasonally changing menu. (Courtesy of Immigrant Restaurant)

Wine director John Eisler leads Immigrant’s program of 1,200 labels, which evolves to match the monthly-changing menu. The strengths of the list lie in California, Burgundy, Bordeaux and Italy, with horizontals and verticals from leading wineries like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Tenuta Sette Ponti and Hundred Acre. The by-the-glass selection is also impressive, with about 30 wines from other well-known producers, including CVNE, Ramey and Louis Jadot. Throughout the list, Wine Spectator ratings offer guests an additional layer of guidance.

 A dining room with wooden chairs around a round, white-tablecloth covered table, wood-paneled walls, a chandelier and a picture of a dancer in red at the Immigrant Restaurant in Kohler, Wisc.
Wisconsin produce and meats star on the menu, along with selections from the state's renowned cheesemakers. (Giada Paoloni)

Chef Thomas Hauck heads the kitchen, preparing new takes on American classics. (A prix-fixe menu is available, as are vegetarian and vegan tasting menus.) Hauck honed his art at restaurants across the U.S. and spent four years under the tutelage of the late Michel Richard at Citronelle in Washington, D.C. His menu at Immigrant combines local ingredients with global techniques and spices for dishes like Urfa biber-spiced pork belly with apple compote and dandelion greens, guinea hen with grilled summer squash and roasted carrots topped with pistachios, puffed amaranth and gochujang dressing. The dessert menu is infused with a sense of fun with cheesecake surprise, a Whatchamacallit peanut butter–and-chocolate confection and a State Fair funnel cake.

But are you really in Wisconsin if you don’t indulge in Immigrant’s massive cheese list? With more than 40 options to choose from, exclusively from dairies and creameries across the Badger State, it provides a great introduction to the state’s artisanal cheese scene. Available in flights or by the ounce, the choices—from a triple cream brie to a brandy-soaked white cheddar to a buttermilk blue—cover a range of European styles, as well as true American originals.

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