One Day of Gluttony in Madison Wisconsin
Tasty Tuesday post this week is not about my usual quest to eat all 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die. I’ll return to that next Tuesday. So here is some mighty fine tasty!
I have been spending a good amount of time in one of my favorite cities, Madison Wisconsin. It has been years since I have lived in this magnificent city with it’s progressive world-class University and Farmer’s Market. This ever changing, socially forward city never disappoints me on the food front. On this visit I ate at three new-to-me restaurants that were fantastic!
Breakfast – Short Stack Eatery.
This cool place located just blocks off the Capital on Johnson Street is open from Thursday-Sunday only. Friday and Saturday they are open for 24 hours straight.
The interior is casual and a bit funky, not your average matchy-matchy decor.
For a breakfast, the menu looks the same and yet not the same. Yes, you can get eggs and toast but not the same ole eggs and toast.
The eggs are cage free and the toast is Madison Sourdough. What is Madison Sourdough? “… a modern communal oven bakery and patisserie producing honest, nutritious bread, pastry and food…”  And let me tell you that sourdough is the BEST that I have had in a long time. I could have eaten the whole loaf, but that would have been gluttonous. The Food is made from scratch featuring many local farms, artisanal foods and delicious Wisconsin products. These vendors are listed on a chalkboard.
Before you order, consider the daily “Blind Special.” If you are a risk-taker, you will also save money and pay $ $6.50. Or, In their own words “If you’re a chicken, you can ask what’s in it and get it for $10.99, but we’ve always preferred spontaneity to scaredy-cats. But that’s just us.” 
One person in my group was not chicken. On this day, the blind special was Oatmeal Pancakes with blackberry bourbon reduction sauce, house-made whipped topping with Wisconsin cream and nuts. ?cashews. YUM!
The other chickens ate Eggs Benedict, yes please!
Two cage-free eggs served atop a toasted biscuit and topped with over-medium, double cherrywood smoked ham, roasted asparagus and house-made sage and thyme hollandaise sauce. Served with your choice of breakfast potatoes, Madison Sourdough toast or fresh mixed greens. NBD YUM!
And last but not least, someone at my table had a sweet tooth and ordered the Baked Pecan Streusel French Toast. Made with three pieces of baked sourdough toast, topped with pecan streusel, fresh berries, caramel, and bourbon-maple mascarpone. Served with WI maple syrup. Um, RUKM? Yum!
Now, for you day-drinkers or a late night date night. SSE does serve cocktails. They also have a Bloody Mary Bar. The quote says “Brunch without booze is nothing but a late breakfast.” I love how SSE describes this drink “Our bloody is Best of Madison award-winning and chock full of fresh veggies. You might even call it a high-achieving healthy snack that totally counts towards your daily veggie intake for the day. We’ll cheers to that.” 
Since there were no day drinkers at our table, I creeped on the next table.
The coffee is fantastic. Don’t miss this stop for breakfast where smaller portions are available upon request. Oh, and I read that this business was given birth while sitting on a beach in Antigua, Guatemala. Right on!
Lunch – Lucille’s on King Street.
Get it? Lucille’s on King Street? A little B.B. King reference.
This is another new to me place. Lucille’s is in the former Isthmus building. The alternative newspaper gone all big city. The interior has a upscale industrial vibe.
I grew up in Wisconsin, and this beauty is a far cry to the joints that I visited when I was younger. However, I think what they meant was pizza lunches and with an impressive beer and cocktail menu, hangout at night. With a fun menu of interesting tavern snacks, house-made soups and fresh local salads, this is a fun place to eat.
I tasted two types of pizzas. I was able to speak to the pizza chef, who described unique qualities of their pizzas. The finely-ground, high-quality wheat flour is a long process, 36 hours to be exact. Huh? This helps a fermentation process. Huh? Fermented with New Glarus Spotted Cow Beer. My friends be jealous, this delicious and much coveted beverage can only be purchased in Wisconsin.
After rising, the dough is hand-tossed and put into a high temperature oven where it is said to make a “blistery delicate crust.”
There are daily and lunch specials. I chose the lunch pizza, which was a 6″ wood fired round served with a side salad and house made vinaigrette. they were able to hold the meat and pour on the veggies, just the way I like my za. Bellissimo!
I have to say that I have eaten a few outstanding pizzas this past year. I have eaten a fantastic deep-dish in Alabama. Yes, Alabama and yes, I have eaten at all of the famous Chicago eateries. I have had wood fired pizzas in several approved Neapolitan pizzerias but is comparing to this splendid pizza called their steel pan pizzas. Seriously outstanding.
This pizza was created in the “Detroit style.” So, not as thick as Chicago style and yet still served with sauce on top. The Detroit style is made with brick cheese as edges and when cooked, it caramelizes the cheese.
So where the genius comes in.
The creators of this masterpiece use Wisconsin’s own Shullsburg cheddar cheese for the edges and add some Wisconsin butter under the crust to further caramelize the dough. Instead of water, they use the Spotted Cow beer and oregano in the crust. Topped with fresh tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella.
This pizza is pure perfection. I am head-over-heels in love and this pizza will haunt my dreams. I can not wait to visit again and soon! Did I mention the view? 
Dinner- The Old Fashioned
Another new to me stop, this restaurant is said to be “A place that captures Wisconsin, what it used to be and what it will become.”  Where Wisconsin is King.
I could write on this subject all day long so to sum it up in 100 words or less is a tall order. There have been PBS films made about Wisconsin fish fry’s and the Supper Club experience. Imagine growing up in a place that has 10,000 lakes and you have a cottage on one of them. There are campfires, marshmallows, a hometown tavern or two or twelve, and a Supper club. Maybe you didn’t have a cottage but for sure you had a tavern or two or forty, and a supper Club. Traditionally a supper club was a restaurant open for supper hours, 3 p.m. for drinks and on Friday’s a fish fry served, Saturday’s were prime-rib dinners, and Sunday roasted or broasted chicken. Before the salad bar day’s, you often had a plate of vegetables, cheese dips, relishes and crackers.
This place nailed it in décor and menu.
The Wisconsin fish fry is also regional. Where I grew up it began during the Catholic lent season, and was served in church halls, V.F.W. clubs (and the like,) and supper clubs.
During the years that I lived in Madison, I could not get a good fish-fry and needed to head North to taste some Lake Perch or Haddock. Always served with coleslaw, delicious soft rye bread, and either french fry’s , potato salad or a baked potato. This was the Friday of my youth. So I was thrilled that there was another place in Madison that now serves fish fry, so how did it rate?
The decor. 5 MEGastars. Photos of “the lakes,” animal horns, and beer signs. Check.
Of course, there should be a mounted Walleye in a case or another fish.Check.
There must be a bar that sells pickled eggs and large rows of booze and beer taps. Check.
Beer battered cheese curds done right. I am not talking frozen here, only fresh squeaky curds with a light batter will do. Now, when I was growing up cheese curds were found at special events like the county fairs and never with dip, now many restaurants across the country have a frozen version. Check.
This restaurant is dedicated to all things Wisconsin. YUM!
And then there is their Perch Fry. This is Lake Perch NOT ocean perch (yuck, I have made that mistake outside of Wisconsin.) In all of my travels, I have NEVER found a good Lake Perch outside of Wisconsin. Never.
For many years, the Lake Perch came out of local Lake Michigan and now I think it mostly comes from Canada due to overfishing. Delicate fish with a light batter. My sister and I were weirdo’s, even as young people we had a rating for our perch fry. This one rated pretty well by my standards, except for the poppy seed in the cole slaw. However this is Wisconsin inspired, and it was delicious. The rye bread was outstanding and thankfully, that butter is from Wisconsin! Check.
And then there is this, The Old Fashioned. Wisconsinites drink more brandy than any other place in the country. Historically made of brandy, muddled cherry and oranges, a sugar cube or simple syrup and soda, with an orange and cherries. This establishment has creative versions. Check.
Another place that has a great view.
All of the food that I ate was 5 MEGastars. I can’t wait to get back to one of my favorite cities in the world.
- This time, do as I say and try all of these outstanding and exciting restaurants.
- Because this has been a long blog, visit the websites for any information relating to this post.
Sources and links to the posts.
- Madison Sourdough
- Short Stack EateryShort Stack Eatery
- Quote from Short Stack Eatery Website (above)
- The Old FashionedThe Old Fashioned