Jardin, the long-awaited replacement for the upscale Southern restaurant Julep, opened quietly this week in the Robinia Courtyard on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue.
Robinia developer Jon Reske, who originally expected Jardin to open in early August, called the restaurant's debut "a super soft CIA opening."
Reske, who owns the former Lussier Teen Center building with 23 investor-partners, closed two of the three entities in the Robinia development, Julep and Barolo, on New Year's Day.
He kept the former A-OK coffee shop open, running it with a partner as Black Locust Cafe. He reopened the Barolo wine bar in May as Madison Tap, a beer bar which turns its tap lines over to a different Wisconsin brewer each month.
Madison Tap's food menu, designed and executed by chef Brandon Reid, is short but impressive. Reid is also executive chef of Black Locust and Jardin, which has a locally sourced, seasonally-adjusted menu with four small plates ($9 -$12) and seven large plates ($12 to $25).
The small plates are made up of caramelized Thai shrimp, Filipino ceviche, a spinach salad and a melon salad.
Large plates include the vegan and gluten-free wild mushrooms, made with braised lentils, grilled scallions, roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts, as well as seared red snapper with fennel, shallots and cucumber slaw.
Reid is a former sous chef at Dan Fox's Heritage Tavern and the onetime executive chef at The Cooper's Tavern on the Square. Reid later opened Breakwater in Monona with two partners, from whom he parted company.
The Robinia project, with its spacious courtyard, is in the newly-developing part of East Washington Avenue, one mile east of the Capitol. Robinia originally opened in October 2015.