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Dec 20, 2008 07:51 AM

Fun Rehearsal Dinner Madison, WI

Need recs for a rehearsal/welcome dinner next August in Madison. Looking for fun setting (not stuffy banquet rooms) for 60-70 all out-of-towners. Near downtown would be great. Restaurant, private club, etc. Willing to explore all options. $40-50 food per person okay. What would be a great "Madison" experience? Any guidance is greatly appreciated.

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  1. As an out-of-town visitor for the past year or so, I've been trying various places that offer a "Madison experience":

    Fresco - This is a new, contemporary American restaurant on the rooftop of the Madison Museum for Contemporary Art. Lovely setting, great food. 60-70 people may mean you would be renting the whole place out.

    Sardine - Not necessarily a Madison classic yet, but it's a lovely place. It's in a renovated old building, and faces one of the lakes. It's a big place and I'm not sure but they may have private rooms.

    The Old Fashioned - This place is as much a "Madison experience" as any. It's a restaurant that has American comfort food - burgers, sandwiches, salads, beer - where you order and pay at the counter and they come bring you your food. I don't know what, if any, arrangements they can make for a large private party.

    Marigold Kitchen - This is another place with a real "Madison experience". It's just open for breakfast and lunch, which means they might be willing to book the place on an evening for a private party.

    Sorry I can't tell you exactly what any of them can do for a private party.

    For additional ideas, you'll find extended discussions of restaurants in Madison in these other topics:

    Good luck with your event!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Thanks, nsxtasy, for all the great info. Fresco and Sardine seems like good contenders.

    2. A "Madison" interesting question. Do you mean a "Madison experience" as in great cheese, brats, and beer? A "Madison experience" as in great views of the lake or in a historic downtown building? Or a "Madison experience" as in funky ethnic storefront? All of those are "Madison experiences" to me.

      Other than nsxtasy's recommendations below, I would suggest:

      The Great Dane - downtown. Probably, next to The Old Fashioned, the most "classic" Madison place downtown. Great outdoor patio in the summer.

      The Cabana Room and/or Samba. One a casual Brazilian-flavored cafe, one a Brazilian churrascaria. Both in a restored historic building in the heart of downtown.

      The Admiralty Room in Edgewater Hotel. Upscale hotel, past its glory days, but with stunning views of Lake Mendota. Perhaps a bit too stuffy for what you have in mind.

      Kennedy Manor Dining Room & Bar. A great undiscovered gem downtown in an historic downtown apartment buliding.

      Kushi Bar Muramoto. One of the great triumvirate of Muramoto restuarants, this is the causal, inexpensive, hip cousin to the others. I know they do private parties because I tried to have dinner there last night...

      Lao Laan Xang. Two locations, both a little ways from downtown. Great Laotian food that I return to again and again.

      1 Reply
      1. re: itsbubbles

        Thanks so much. These are great suggestions and will check them out. We're open to anything except stuffy. We want our guests to be relaxed and have fun and since almost all will be from other states and countries we want them to experience the beauty of Madison. City or lakes view would be our first choice.

      2. I would look at Restaurant Magnus as a fun option. We love going there and it would be easy to see if they could accommodate that many.

        Restaurant Magnus
        120 E Wilson St Ste 3, Madison, WI 53703

        1. Take a look at Quivey's Grove, it is on the edge of Madison but has a permanent tent during the summer for special events like weddings. Lots of green space to relax in and a great renovated barn as well as the main house for a nicer dinner. Mary Lou is the catering manager, very good to work with and the food is very good. A new hotel is within walking distance too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: doghot

            Thanks to everyone for your help. We'll check out all these suggestions.

          2. I recently married in Madison, WI and we had our rehearsal dinner at the Overture Center downtown. We had the dinner on the balcony overlooking the lobby, which also has access to a balcony outside. Beautiful place, very Madison, right downtown. They had a list of restaurants to choose from when I had mine, not sure if it still the same.

            Here are some other great downtown restaurants to check out:

            Fresco, which is next to the Overture Center, would be wonderful. The outside sculpture garden can be rented for private parties and has a great view of downtown. I highly recommend this restaurant. The food is amazing.

            Crave, is another great, kind of hip place to host a private party. The food is great, the cocktails are creative and the atmosphere is very vibrant.

            I would not suggest the Old Fashioned as it tends to be very loud and not very appropriate for a large party. However, the restaurant owners also run Harvest and Osteria Papavero which have a reservable room overlooking the lake. Both restaurants have impeccable taste in wines and menu. You couldn't go wrong at either.

   or will also help tremendously in your search.
            Good luck!