Meritage in Washington Heights to Close August 11

After more than two decades in Milwaukee, the co-owner/chef of this Vliet Street restaurant plans to head back to her native California.

Meritage (5921 W. Vliet St.) co-owner/head chef Jan Kelly has announced her plans to close the Washington Heights restaurant later this summer – August 11. That is nine years after its opening. Kelly, a native of the West Coast, says after Meritage’s closing, she will return to California to be closer to her family. Prior to opening Meritage, she ran the kitchen at Barossa (precursor to Ginger) in Walker’s Point.

Meritage has always been hugely supportive of Wisconsin farms, and Kelly’s creativity has meant the sorts of seasonal changes that kept diners from ever being bored. From now until the restaurant’s closing next month, Kelly is offering some Meritage-esque specials.  For three more Wednesdays, she’s doing her fried chicken dinner with gravy and chipotle honey and (her mom’s-recipe) sour cream biscuits. (The chicken is buttermilk and Tabasco brined.)

“Menu Encores” runs July 14-August 11, on Thursday-Saturdays only. This is where Kelly rolls out Meritage favorites like bison meatloaf, stacked enchilada and grilled romaine Caesar with scallops. Another pre-closing event is August 10’s Chefs Dinner, a collaborative farm-to-table meal that will include the cooking talents of Sanford’s Justin Aprahamian, Buckley’s Thi Cao, Pastiche’s Mike Engel, The National’s Nell Benton and Maxie’s Joe Muench. More details (also registration info) on Meritage’s website.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.