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Questions about Madison, L'Etoile

Daaang. That sucks. Well, you won't be begging for quality outside of the seafood selections. It's great stuff.

Jul 30, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Questions about Madison, L'Etoile

I returned to L'Etoile a couple weeks ago, first time in two years or so. It's too bad you're excluding seafood because Tory Miller and his kitchen have a TOUCH with seafood. Like, for real. The Spanish octopus on the First Course list is great.

But let's say you really really insist on not eating seafood. Whatevs. From the currently-online a la carte menu, I had the sweet corn and bacon risotto (great, rich, creamy, sweet, and the fried squash blossom is loaded with cheese) and the Fountain Prairie New York Strip (sliced, cooked to gorgeous medium rare, tender as hell and very flavorful, plus the accompaniments are really well seasoned and delicious).

You'd be happy, I'd be willing to bet, with the cauliflower too; I had a cauliflower steak there a couple years ago that was killer. I'd also recommend the heart and tongue on principle.

Outside of the L'Etoile meal, I second the recommendations of Grampa's and Forequarter. The menu changes all the time at Forequarter, but my one can't-miss at Grampa's is the ginger cake. (Though that aforementioned Brassacre pizza is definitely a good one.) Throw Salvatore's Tomato Pies on Johnson in there for consideration, and maybe 4 & 20 Bakery and Cafe for breakfast, and you're in good shape.

Jul 29, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Looking for German Supper in Madison Wisconsin

Essen Haus is very German, but nothing I've heard about the quality of its product recommends it particularly highly. Try Sprecher's in Middleton (adjacent community to the west of Madison). You'll get Germanic themes at places like Forequarter, The Flying Hound (jagerschnitzel!), and Stalzy's, too, but I wouldn't call those "German restaurants" by a long shot.

(Also, it's WI.)

Jun 02, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Fish Fry in Appleton, WI

Top three mentioned by MY mom, a born-and-raised Appletonian and good Catholic:

-VFW on Richmond
-Lake Park Pub
-Waverly in Menasha

That last one is probably tops if the weather is nice; great outdoor seating, right on the water. Otherwise no particular order.

May 11, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Stops between Chicago and Madison?

There's another Pine Cone just outside of Madison, too (Deforest, technically, I think), if you miss the first one. Open 24 hours!

Mar 25, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Stops between Chicago and Madison?

How much do you want to customize your driving route from Chicago to Madison in order to hit some interesting spots along the way? The stops below are navigable, between points A and B, without deviating TOO far off the most direct routes.

-Rushing Waters Trout House in Palmyra, WI
-Wedl's hamburger stand in Jefferson, WI
-Los Agaves taco truck in Fort Atkinson, WI
-Famous Yeti's Pizza and Wendigo, both in Stoughton, WI
-Double S BBQ in Cambridge, WI
-Georgio's Pizza in Milton, WI

You absolutely could just keep your powder dry until Madison -- there's plenty here, and I could go on at length -- but if you want to experience smaller-town Wisconsin dining highlights, these are a good start.

Mar 24, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Wisconsin "Pizza Fries"?

(Tried replying to this last night but it apparently did not post successfully.)

Yes, despite your interpretation, we're actually on the same page. I'm not talking about French fries, I'm talking about the pizza-crusted dish. I've only ever heard them called "cheese fries." MAYBE "cheese sticks," but I'm pretty sure it's only ever been fries. Did you see the link I posted in my original comment?

Feb 13, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Wisconsin "Pizza Fries"?

I'm pretty sure the lingua franca here in Wisconsin is "cheese fries." A bowling alley staple. I've never heard them called "pizza fries." I mean, this is Wisconsin. How would it NOT be called "cheese fries"?

EDIT: http://www.portesi.net/?_escaped_frag...

Feb 12, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Going to be in OshKosh Wisconsin tonight. Anything worthwhile to visit there or is it

Sorry for what's probably a late reply, but if you're into beer and bistro-type pub food, check out Gardina's.

Feb 12, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Restaurant Week in Madison, WI

The only reason I'd make a Restaurant Week trip to a place I've already visited is to try something from its kitchen that doesn't normally appear or is a kind of oddball offering for the place. Vintage fits that bill. The other menus you're looking at do look tasty, though, and there are some dishes that I don't think are on the regular menus. I'd give Sardine serious thought, because if the dining area is packed, you might be able to sneak a spot at the bar and eat off of the bar-only menu. Best in-house back-up plan in town.

Jan 12, 2015
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Last Minute Birthday Dinner - Madison

Sorry no one replied to your post; Madison is a weird spot for Chow activity.

I think you meant the Capital Tap Haus on State Street, but I'm wondering where you ended up going. The Old Fashioned would probably have been bonkers -- it usually is. And if you're interested in recommendations for a future visit, I'll be happy to help.

Nov 05, 2014
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

lard, tallow, good extensive butchers in Madison, Wisconsin?

If your slaughter operation has been closed down, how are you processing any animals at all, much less 15 per week? Not trying to be challenging; I'm legitimately curious.

Oct 01, 2014
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

lard, tallow, good extensive butchers in Madison, Wisconsin?

Not adding "pink salt" nitrates means using LOTS more "natural" (celery-based, usually) and generally inferior nitrates, leading to a less healthy, less "natural" product. Don't believe the hype.


Monthly produce delivery boxes as gift -is there such a thing? [Madison, WI]

Different CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture, perhaps not the same CSA you're referring to but certainly the more colloquial one) have pick-ups at many different places, and they're designed to be convenient -- though I guess I don't know where you live; perhaps equidistant from every CSA's pick-up spots.

Regardless, delivery is going to be a big reach because farms are already strapped for infrastructure between the CSA deliveries and farmers' market transportation. Shop around for a CSA that has the most convenient pick-up. REAP Food Group and FairShare Coalition (formerly MACSAC) have handy lists.

REAP: http://www.reapfoodgroup.org/farms/se...

FairShare: http://www.csacoalition.org/our-farms...

Dec 19, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

MKE- Sanford sold

Absolutely. Maybe I misinterpreted your "I go to Hooligan's" comment given my limited understanding of the kind of business that place does.

(I've never been; I saw the giant boot on the front page of the website, and made an admittedly snap judgment that the place doesn't exactly take beer as seriously as Sanford did wine.)

Dec 05, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

MKE- Sanford sold

Mostly off-topic, but:

[ If I want a beer with dinner I will go to Hooligan's. ]

That's a shame. How is beer pairing any less compatible with quality dining than wine pairing?

That said, I understand if the vibe of a place favors a certain drink over another, just as it might favor a veal piccata over char-siu pork. But that shouldn't be to the diminishment of one or the other.

Dec 04, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Madison, WI--Anyone been to Pig in a Fur Coat or Forequarter?

Yeah, Papavero's really quite nice. (Thanks for popping over, BTW.)

So, when is/was the show? If it's come and gone, where'd you go?

Nov 12, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Madison, WI--Anyone been to Pig in a Fur Coat or Forequarter?

Forequarter is nice, comfortable. Like Underground Kitchen with the edges sanded off. The menu changes pretty frequently, but I can say that the attentions of the Underground guys seem to be bending toward fermentation and rich, funky flavors. Shoot for anything that might be present as mustardy, sour, gamey, or pickled.

Going off of the currently-posted menu:

The ripped bread starter is mindblowing; get it with both the ricotta (if they offer it) and the potted meat. Veal meatballs were great when I had them back in late spring. Weisswurst looks promising.

There's frequently (always?) an off-menu special, and a late-night menu that kicks in after 10. (Perhaps not applicable for you, but there it is.) The bar is still piloted by one of the best cocktail innovators in town.

Haven't been to PFC yet.

Oct 30, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Appleton Wisconsin Must Dining for Graduation Celebration

Wild Truffle, which is west of the Fox River Mall, is really great. Strongly recommended for a splurgey event.

Fine dining may still be a tough row to hoe in Appleton, but mid-range dining is definitely improving. I grew up there, and visit family regularly.

Apollon always has a warm spot in my heart, but it's been years since I was there last. Katsu-ya on College is a quality teppanyaki/hibachi joint; a friend who was born in Japan dines there often and gives it good marks, as do I (but I've never set food in Japan, so). I've heard good things about Il Angolo, too. And there's Fratello's down on the Oneida flats, which has a view you just cannot beat in the Fox Valley, and some pretty nice food and drink, too.

Oct 01, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Delicious restaurant in downtown Madison WI to eat alone at bar?

The Fountain, on State St. It's, like, an actual Wisconsin bar, but with really satisfying local-centric food. Sit at the bar, chat with the staff, watch State go by out the big front window.

The other places listed here are great, but either really hum with an activity that might make one feel *more* alone, or are quiet enough with nothing else happening to really emphasize that you're alone. Unless you like those sorts of feelings, I suspect The Fountain will give you enough of both solitude and engagement.

Jun 19, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

L'Etoile Madison--Tips/Suggestions?

Every time I've had shrimp out of that kitchen, it's been superb.

May 28, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Kolaches in Madison?

It's called BJ's, and I tried the sausage jambalaya kolache at Isthmus ala Carts (sort of like a UN summit of food carts hosted at Olin Park). The filling was a little one-note, and the note wasn't sausage. But it was buttery and delicious on the outside, tender and filling. Worth checking out.

May 24, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Thai in Madison

Lao Laan Xang is a good bet. There are two locations: Williamson and Atwood.

Apr 14, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Mexican and New Mexican in Madison, Wi

My first recommendation would have been for Antojitos El Toril, but they've just recently closed. A woman who I'm assuming is the owner of the building told me that she'd had to evict them. Sadface; that place was terrific.

Apr 14, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Madison WI late March weekend

The second restaurant opened in Madison by the guys who own Marigold would be a perfect dinner spot: Sardine. Great cocktails, gorgeous atmosphere, right down the street from Monona Terrace.

Mar 19, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Supper Club recommendations in Madison WI?

Are you sure it wasn't the restaurant currently known as the Wonder Bar? Back then it wasn't called that, probably the Bar Next Door. It's set back, it's a standalone...

Jan 19, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Supper Club recommendations in Madison WI?

The Forons feel like they've landed on an answer: The Crescent City Grill, which was adjoining to the Luther's Blues music venue. It actually opened in 2000 according to this article (http://host.madison.com/news/article_...), and unfortunately for your quest, it closed in 2005.

Its address was 1202 W. Dayton St. Ringing any bells?

Jan 19, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Supper Club recommendations in Madison WI?

I put this question to the posters at The Daily Page's Forum, many of whom are virtual encyclopedias of Madison geography and history.

As of now, they've come to the same impasse as the 'hounds here.


Jan 19, 2012
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Madison updates, please!

Cafe Soleil closed when L'Etoile moved from North Pinckney to South; Graze is the new effort that (sort of) replaces it. Magic coffee still available, still delicious. Sardine (just Sardine, since Chowhound puts an additional S on it) is a great bet all around. The bar menu (Bistro hot dog--amazing) is a hidden gem if you're just doing drinks and bites. Lao Laan Xang is still good, though being given a good run by Ha Long Bay, in the space once occupied by Babs' French Quarter Kitchen on Williamson St.

New places you should consider trying (in addition to some of the spots mentioned already):

Umami - ramen house in a converted, well, house on Willy St. Try the pork buns (especially if you get them at Graze, too; I like one significantly more than the other).

Bonfyre - hidden away in the big business development along the Beltline across from the Arboretum. Big menu, should please any possible combination of tastes.

Ichiban - Sichuan joint on Park St. Hot, serious, good.

Dumpling Haus - A spinoff of the now-closed Yen Ching, housed inside the Hilldale Shopping Center. Haus pork, haus bao zi, and more are very much worth facing the holiday shopping crowd to try.

Older places you may have missed:

Inka Heritage - Peruvian on Park; the restaurant that really started to turn the tide on that stretch of road. It's a veritable United Nations of good eats (Peruvian, Sichuan, Cantonese, Mexican, plus bagels, Barriques, and Carnival's--that last one's kind of a hoot, and worth checking out for funsies.)

I prefer Maharani for Indian in Madison; the Maharajas kind of hog all the press. Get the beef mango, or the chicken shahi korma.

Papa Bear's BBQ - Not the most sophisticated, rub-heavy smokehouse in town, but real nice, real thickly-sauced BBQ. Two sandwiches worth stopping for: the hot link, and the BBQ corned beef. Make sure to get a side order of biscuits--they're wonderful.

L'Etoile Restaurant
25 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

Lao Laan Xang Restaurant
2098 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704

Maharani Indian Restaurant
380 W Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703

617 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Inka Heritage
602 S Park St, Madison, WI 53715

Papa Bears Bbq
4527 Cottage Grove Rd, Madison, WI 53716

Ha Long Bay
1353 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Bonfyre American Grille
2601 West Beltline Hwy, Madison, WI 53713

Dec 06, 2011
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes

Sushi in Madison???

There's another thread on this subject (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/535550), but a few places have opened/moved since then.

My personal favorite for sushi is Takumi, on the east side near the East Towne Mall. Good prices, open late, nice quality. Both traditional rolls and wacky combo rolls are worth exploring.

Sushi Muramoto (in the Hilldale Shopping Center) and Restaurant Muramoto (downtown on King St.) are high-quality affairs. The salmon skin roll at Sushi Muramoto is a knock-out.

Some folks, including food critics, really like Wasabi (it's above State Street); I haven't been there yet, so I can't speak to it.

Takara is all right, and Red Sushi is new but getting positive press.

Restaurant Muramoto
225 King St, Madison, WI 53703

Sushi Muramoto
546 N Midvale Blvd, Madison, WI 53705

Oct 03, 2011
TheBookPolice in Great Lakes