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Madison, WI dining


Elizabeth Ann
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On my holiday travels, I'm going to forGinza of Tokyo East. More for the tepanyaki show than for Sushi. It's now a small chain, I guess, though I've never been. Friends want to go, especially, their son who wants to see the food fly. Hopefully it's good - please post reports on it if you've been and recommendations for ordering.

Also, I am taking them to Kingston House Saturday buffet which is a childhood favorite (since the early 70's for me). The food is ultimate comfort. The atmosphere is typical Wisconsin Bar (almost like English Pubs where the whole family goes so unlike Utah where I currently reside). I'll give a report. I can't wait for some corn fritters and chicken and biscuits (dumplings), and giblets, along with an Brandy Old-Fashioned or Brandy Manhattan cocktail from the bar!

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Haven't been to the east location but the Ginza downtown location recently closed. It was one of the better downtown sushi bars--nowhere near as good as Sushi Muramoto, but better than Takara--so that's a shame.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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We're going to be taking my nephew out for Sunday brunch on an upcoming visit to Madison. Does anyone have any comments about the Sunday brunches at the places we're considering, and their suitability for a UW freshman who likes a wide variety of foods?

Café Continental (European)

Cocoliquot (French)

Sardine (French)

Eldorado Grill (Mexican)

Tex Tubb's Taco Palace (Tex-Mex)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi

I'm probably too late here, but I vote for Sardine if you want a broad selection, and El Dorado if you want Tex Mex. Wouldn't bother with the others.

Sara

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Wonderful news to share:

La Querentana is now La Mestiza and it has blossomed into a terrific little restaurant! It's now a sit down affair serving very solid margaritas (up, with salt), some delicious braised meat dishes (including lamb and pork), and an outstanding tres leches cake. The atmosphere is pleasant and low key, the servers are friendly AND very competent, and the prices are quite reasonable ($10-14 for entrees I recall).

The place reminds me of a favorite of mine in Philadelphia, Lolita. I'm so very pleased to have this kind of place here in Madison-- go check it out!

Their website:

http://www.lamestiza.net/

A review:

http://www.isthmus.com/eats/article.php?article=15962

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Coming soon to Madison: Restaurant Week.

This is the kind of thing I'd normally take a pass on (dull menus, crowds, etc) but some places look to be offering good deals. If Sushi Muramoto turns out their excellent sushi even when offering "all you can eat" for $25 I'll be shocked and awed. Lombardino's menu looks especially nice.

More here:

www.madisonmagazine.com/restaurantweek

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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  • 5 weeks later...

Sara and I dined at Liliana's, a Cajun restaurant that is a newcomer to the Madison dining scene. It's located in a nicely designed space along County Route PD in Fitchburg.

Our entrees (crawfish etouffee and jambalaya) and appetizer (BBQ jumbo prawns with heads on) were delicious. Lots of flavor, fresh ingredients, and good spice. We also enjoyed really good French press coffee, but suffered through very poor, undercooked beignets for dessert.

Overall, Liliana's is superior to Louisianne's in Middleton and New Orleans Take-Out in Madison. It's worth a visit.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Hey all--another Philadelphian here--I'm leaving tomorrow to go visit a friend in Madison, and was wondering what coffeehouses you might recommend. (Or uniquely Madison restaurants.)

Speaking of which, is Essen Haus worth a visit?

Thanks for the help!

Joyce

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Hi

I highly recommend a visit to Manna on Sherman Ave (not far from the airport) and Barriques (the Monroe St location).

For a unique restaurant, try Greenbush Bar for pizza.

Sara

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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Hey all--another Philadelphian here--I'm leaving tomorrow to go visit a friend in Madison, and was wondering what coffeehouses you might recommend.  (Or uniquely Madison restaurants.)

Speaking of which, is Essen Haus worth a visit?

Thanks for the help!

Joyce

This reply may be too late, but here are some coffeehouse ideas for you. Not sure where in Madison you'll be, so here's a sprinkling of ideas around the city.

Mother Fool's

Ancora

EVP

Barriques Coffee (West Washington Ave. location)

Fair Trade

Michelangelo's

Caffe 608 (at Sundance Cinemas)

If German stein and ooompah schtick is your thing, then I suppose the Essenhaus is worth a trip. I still haven't recovered from several visits to a similar German place in Montreal years ago--Vieux Munich.

For uniquely Madison food, I'd recommend Ella's Deli and Michael's Frozen Custard. You might also consider The Old Fashioned and Avenue Bar (especially for its fish fry) as well.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Hey there -

I'm hoping that you can help me. I'm coming to town tomorrow, and was thinking about dining at Cocoliquot, but I just read in the Isthmus that it is closing soon. Here's the article:

http://www.thedailypage.com/eats/article.php?article=19752

Does anyone know about this? I read a lot of favorable reviews of it when it opened, have things changed drastically, or should I try it while I still have the chance?

Thanks!

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Hey there -

I'm hoping that you can help me.  I'm coming to town tomorrow, and was thinking about  dining at Cocoliquot, but I just read in the Isthmus that it is closing soon.  Here's the article:

http://www.thedailypage.com/eats/article.php?article=19752

Does anyone know about this?  I read a lot of favorable reviews of it when it opened, have things changed drastically, or should I try it while I still have the chance?

Thanks!

Based on my last visit months and months ago, and lots of word of mouth, it is definitely not as good as it used to be, the once interesting menu was reduced and restructured significantly, and the chef departed (I believe).

I think you can do better in that downtown area. Depending on what you're looking for and at what price point, some possibilities within 2-3 blocks of there would include Muramoto, Sardine, Harvest, L'Etoile, The Old Fashioned, Osteria Papavero, and Tornado Club.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Thanks for the heads' up about the coffeehouses and places to check out, Liam. I'm actually back in Philly now, but I did make it to Mother Fool's, which I liked quite a lot, and to Essenhaus for a little polka. :)

I was curious about a Cajun place over on Wily Street--my girlfriend (who's homegrown) seems to think it isn't very good based on word of mouth, but I thought it looked kind of tasty. Can't remember the name now, though, unfortunately.

And we had delicious Nepali food on State Street! I'd go back there in a heartbeat.

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Thanks for the scoop on Cocoliquot, and your suggestions. In the end, we decided to try Cafe Porta Alba for Neapolitan-style pizza and antipasto. The food was enjoyable, especially the wood-fired pizza. A nice change from the Roman Candle, where we usually end up for pizza in Madison.

Yesterday I checked out Sucre, the new dessert bar/patisserie on the Capitol square. I was there early - before noon - so it was quiet, but they had a nice assortment of sweets in the case, including an opera torte, a chocolate bombe, and a few tartlets. I purchased a few things to bring home, including an opera torte and a hazelnut mousse dessert, which were both well done. I will definitely be back the next time I'm in town, hopefully I'll be able to visit in the evening.

Thanks for the help!

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  • 3 months later...

Knock Knock!

I'll be in Madison soon, and will be staying at the Fluno Center at UW. It seems to be about 5 or 6 blocks from Capital Square.

Any suggestions in walking distance? I've scanned the thread, but I've never been in Madison and don't know the terrain. I won't have a car, so I'm looking for good eats in the area.

Thanks a bunch.

Edited by Dignan (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I'm looking for dinner recommendation for a Sunday and Tuesday night. I'm staying at the Sheraton Madison Hotel located at 706 John Nolen Drive, I'm not familiar with Madison so I don't know where that fits into the city or other recommendations given here. We won't have a car, so walking distance is best, cab is okay. I like all different kinds of food. Sunday night I'd be looking for something on the upscale side, Tuesday could be ethnic or otherwise interesting.

Thanks!

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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I'm looking for dinner recommendation for a Sunday and Tuesday night. I'm staying at the Sheraton Madison Hotel located at 706 John Nolen Drive, I'm not familiar with Madison so I don't know where that fits into the city or other recommendations given here. We won't have a car, so walking distance is best, cab is okay. I like all different kinds of food. Sunday night I'd be looking for something on the upscale side, Tuesday could be ethnic or otherwise interesting.

Thanks!

If the Sunday is July 13, you can hit the special garlic dinner at Harvest.

On Tuesday you might consider the special prix fixe dinner at L'Etoile.

(As you know, I don't live in Madison, but Ms. Alex has been there for conferences and I'm her restaurant researcher.)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I would recommend L'Etoile, for their prix fixe or otherwise. It's really the only one of the higher end places I've been completely happy with. I think it consistently outstrips all the other usual suspects, which would be in my estimation Harvest, Fresco, and maybe Sardine.

I haven't been to Harvest for a while and I know they've recently changed chefs, but most of the times I've been there before, I've been unsatisfied (example: no seasoning on sea scallops, having "sweet potato confit" on the menu that ended up actually being a ho-hum puree). I've had similar experiences at Sardine (fries that were dried out, sauces that have tasted like ketchup). Many people like these places, but every time I go, thinking I must have been there on an off night or something, I'm disappointed.

Restaurant Muramoto, though I've only been there once, was excellent. They serve Japanese food with some western elements. Also, it's a small plates place that emphasizes sharing which is fun.

Muramoto is on King St, right off the square. Harvest is on the square, a few doors down from L'Etoile. Fresco is two blocks off the square down State St.

As far as where you're located, I don't know of anything that's close by. Take a cab and get to the square, which is where the capitol building is. From there, you can walk to many places.

As for something more casual, I'd suggest the Old Fashioned. Its Wisconsin food (burgers, brats, fried cheese curds, lots of cheese) very well done. I also like Lao Lan Xang, serving Laotian food, on Williamson St. The ethnic food on State st is decent, but not exceptional. Of those choices, I would suggest Himal Chuli (Himalayan) or Buraka (East African).

I don't know if you're drinkers, but I wouldn't look for a cocktail in this town. The beers are good though.

If I think of any thing else, I'll post it. Good luck!

ETA some more info on Muramoto.

Edited by Alcuin (log)

nunc est bibendum...

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Hi,

My favorite restaurants in Madison at the moment are La Mestiza for Mexican and Sushi Muramoto (in Hilldale). But if you want a more truly Madison experience, I would hit Marigold Kitchen or Cafe Soleil for breakfast or lunch (on Monday/Tues), and have dinner at Greenbush Bar (not open Sundays though) or one of the ethnic restaurants on State Street. Not much in terms of restaurants you can walk to from that hotel, I'm afraid..though you're near the lake which is nice. I think there is actually supposed to be a decent taqueria somewhere around there...

Sara

Edited by sara (log)

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I don't know if you're drinkers, but I wouldn't look for a cocktail in this town. The beers are good though.

Hey-- not sure what that's about. There are lots of places with quite good cocktails here-- for starters, the old-fashioneds at the OF are terrific, all of the cocktails at Sushi Muramoto are very good, the margaritas at La Mestiza are fantastic, and the ones at El Dorado aren't bad either...and you can get a superb bloody mary at any number of places around the Square.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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I don't know if you're drinkers, but I wouldn't look for a cocktail in this town. The beers are good though.

Hey-- not sure what that's about. There are lots of places with quite good cocktails here-- for starters, the old-fashioneds at the OF are terrific, all of the cocktails at Sushi Muramoto are very good, the margaritas at La Mestiza are fantastic, and the ones at El Dorado aren't bad either...and you can get a superb bloody mary at any number of places around the Square.

I would recommend the Old Fashioned at the OF, though they're a bit too sweet for my taste. They're often well made and their quintessentially WI.

I've never had margaritas at La Mestiza, but that place is awesome. Its a bit far from the poster's hotel though.

I've never had any margaritas at El Dorado either, but I have had tequila there. Its a bit expensive for me, though I might try one if the time is right one day.

Sadly, if someone wants a well made martini or manhattan, as examples, its going to be difficult to find one. Many places assume manhattans are on the rocks and put no bitters in them (ugh) and most martinis are too big, have too little or too old vermouth in them (no matter what ratios I ask for it seems) and are watered down from being shaken when they should be stirred (IMO).

As ever, mileage may vary.

nunc est bibendum...

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Looks like I'll be heading to Madison next week for a business trip. A training class in Verona, actually. Not totally sure where I will be staying or if I'll even have a car. I'll have to get those details in the coming days.

I'll be in town three nights. I guess I will just need dinner places. (B-fast and lunch are part of the class). Most likely I would want something "unique" to Madison/Wisconsin. No particular cuisine desired, but I'll say I'm not looking for something like, say, Sushi. I got plenty of that with all of my travel to Los Angeles.

There will be some new co-workers with me. People I have never met but will be working with soon. I suppose I may be spending all the evenings with them. I dunno. Who knows. And of course, depending on where I (we_ actually stay and the transportation situation, our options may be rather limited in that regard.

Anyway, I'll be checking out the more recent posts in this topic for potential ideas.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Looks like I'll be heading to Madison next week for a business trip.  A training class in Verona, actually.  Not totally sure where I will be staying or if I'll even have a car.  I'll have to get those details in the coming days. 

I'll be in town three nights.  I guess I will just need dinner places. (B-fast and lunch are part of the class).  Most likely I would want something "unique" to Madison/Wisconsin.  No particular cuisine desired, but I'll say I'm not looking for something like, say, Sushi.  I got plenty of that with all of my travel to Los Angeles.

There will be some new co-workers with me. People I have never met but will be working with soon. I suppose I may be spending all the evenings with them.  I dunno. Who knows.  And of course, depending on where I (we_ actually stay and the transportation situation, our options may be rather limited in that regard.

Anyway, I'll be checking out the more recent posts in this topic for potential ideas.

There's a lot of good info on this thread. For the two most uniquely Wisconsin places, I would say Old Fashioned and Tornado Room. The OF is WI themed. The Tornado Room is a steak place with old, cheap wood paneling with a kind of strange mustiness to it. They serve gigantic steaks cooked right (I've never had a bad one there) and they serve a glass filled with pickles and raw vegetables to the table. I find the bare bones decor charming and the food is good, if a bit on the expensive side. To me, it's authentically Wisconsin and I love to go there.

I know you're into cocktails from the beverage and libation forum, so I'll repeat my warning from above. You're very likely to be disappointed if you go looking for a cocktail. You might want to order an Old Fashioned at the OF or Tornado Room (they're very similar). This is what you'll get: a ton of muddled fruit, a lot of syrup, a good dash of bitters (that unfortunately has to contend with the heap of muddled maraschino cherry and orange) , and Korbel's brandy that you won't taste because of the sugar and the fruit, topped off with soda water (if you order it "sour") or sprite (if you order it "sweet"). It makes for a not unpleasant drink, but to me, it's not the strong shouldered but subtle complexity of an Old Fashioned.

I would go for beer: there are some good breweries around such as Capitol and New Glarus. There's also the Great Dane which you might want to check out for beer. I like their beer a lot (especially their Texas Speedbump IPA). Methinks the food relies on Cisco a bit too much there, but its OK. The beer, though, is worth going there for. For non-WI beer, I'll drink Bell's Two Hearted anytime.

nunc est bibendum...

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