Chef Tory Miller is co-owner of L’Etoile, Graze, Suejo and Estrellón restaurants in Madison.
What culinary trends are you seeing around Madison these days?
I would say the fine casual concept is a growing culinary trend that Madison really loves. Fine casual restaurants are places like Estrellón or Graft, where the presentation of each dish is very well thought out and put together, but you can eat these fine dishes in a more casual atmosphere. You get all the perks of a fine dining restaurant but in a more relaxed environment.
I’d also have to say that Asian food is really taking off in Madison. There are a ton of new Asian restaurants popping up, and lots of non-Asian restaurants are featuring Asian dishes on the menu.
Also, local food is still becoming more and more popular. For a movement that started out pretty small, the local food scene in Madison has really expanded.
What makes the city a great destination food-wise?
There are so many reasons. To start with, there is such a great chef community. Each of these chefs pushes the limit of what traditional restaurants can be, and so we’re seeing so many different kinds of restaurants doing really cool things. Also, the city is so compact, so you can walk just a few blocks and pass a ton of great spots. I think that makes it pretty different from bigger cities where restaurants are in different neighborhoods and are pretty spaced out.
What are the specialties and/or experiences at your restaurant that you recommend for visiting groups?
At Estrellón, you definitely have to have paella, but I would complement that with a variety of tapas and pinxtos. The paella is great, but the smaller bites give a little more variety to your dining experience. At Sujeo, I would do any of the noodle soups or our KBC (Korean broasted chicken). We’ve also added a new style of Korean barbecue that you’ll have to try. At L’Etoile, the best way to experience the restaurant is with the seven-course tasting menu, which gives you a taste of lots of different things and rotates all the time. At Graze, the best thing to order is the Graze Burger or the bibimbap (Korean rice bowl with meats and vegetables). I’m also a pretty big fan of our cheese curds.
What is one of your favorite places to get a bite or drink?
Salvatore’s Tomato Pies is really amazing pizza. I always go to Underground Butcher for sandwiches. Village Bar is a little dive bar, but they have the best cheeseburgers. La Mestiza is great Mexican food from some chefs who used to work with Rick Bayless. Gib’s Bar and Forequarter both have fantastic cocktail programs, so I like to go to those places when I can.