Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >
May 2, 2009 03:17 PM

the old fashioned in madison

any thoughts?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What about it? :)

    It's a great local favorite, right on the square. You stand in line, place your order, and they bring you your food. I ate there late last year and enjoyed it. They do a good business (at lunchtime, anyway, when I was there), but they move people through fast, so the waits aren't bad. They have burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. The food was very good, and very reasonable in price. What's not to like?

    1. You don't actually stand in line at the Old Fashioned...I think nsxtasy might be thinking of the Marigold Kitchen, also right off the Square. The Old Fashioned is a "new" supper club-type restaurant, with a dedication to local foods and featuring Wisconsin specialities (think fish fry, beer cheese soup...). I think it's well worth a stop. The food is always very good and prices are quite reasonable for the quality. The only drawback for me is that it's quite popular and usually really crowded (especially on Friday/Saturday nights) and they don't take small group reservations, so be prepared to wait for a little while. In nice weather, though, this is less of an issue. I usually go for Saturday or Sunday breakfast, right after they open in the morning. The rosemary potatoes are awesome and totally addictive.

      8 Replies
      1. re: itsbubbles

        sounds like a great stop on a trip to Madison. maybe mid-week to avoid the crowds.

        one question: is it smoky there? (went to another restaurant I liked in Wausau but the smoke from the bar area really detracted.

        (from your neighboring state.)

        1. re: karykat

          Madison has been smoke free since 2005.

        2. re: itsbubbles

          Nope. I went to the Old Fashioned and I definitely stood in line to place my order and pay before sitting down, the same process as at Marigold Kitchen. The only difference was that at Marigold Kitchen, there are a couple of people taking orders and the food preparers are right behind them - Marigold Kitchen is a much smaller place, and somewhat cramped - whereas at the Old Fashioned there was a single order taker behind at single register at the near end of the bar, and I don't remember whether or not the food preparers were visible but they weren't in the immediate vicinity. This was during the lunch rush one day last summer.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            OK. That might be a lunch-only thing. I've been there for dinner and brunch, and always been sat at a table by a hostess and waited on by a waiter.

            1. re: itsbubbles

              You do need to wait in line at the bar to place your order during lunch on weekdays. I'm pretty sure that's not the case on the weekends. It fills up quickly at noon hour, so if you can get there a few minutes earlier, it's easier to get a table.

              The food is very tasty. I especially recommend the smoked turkey and the summer sausage sandwich. It's worth the noise and the wait.

          2. re: itsbubbles

            We've been a couple of times. But prefer the breakfasts. If you go during farmers' market season, Sunday breakfast can be spectacular as they buy from the market and run a couple breakfast specials.

            As itsbubbles says, if you're looking for quiet on a weekend night, this isn't it. The noise level can be something.

            And as everyone else says, yep, the food's quite good.

            1. re: itsbubbles

              Actually you do stand in line at the Old Fashioned for lunch. I work about a block away and we often go there for lunch. Dinner is solely a sit-down affair.

            2. I like the idea of the Old Fashioned, but I'd say the food is solidly good, not great. Certainly a cut above the Great Dane.

              1. We've been twice, at about happy hour both times. It was strictly a sit-down affair when we were there (no standing in line ordering).

                We had sandwiches the first time that were quite good but we more enjoyed the small plates the second time we went. We had a Wisconsin cheese board, a fish board and a charcuterie plate, all were fresh, well presented and the bartender gave us some great info on all of the components of each.

                They also had some fun specials at happy hour including setup deals and a shake game along with beer specials that sat in an old porcelain tub behind the bar. And they do make a good old fashioned (though I drink mine with bourbon instead of the tradition in Wisconsin: brandy).


                1. One of the things I like about it is that it is designed to evoke a Wisconsin supper club kind of place, which it does exceedingly well. It looks like it's been there for ages; I was surprised to find out that it only opened in 2005!

                  As to whether it's "great", that depends on what you're looking for. Can fare like sandwiches and salads be great? If so, then the Old Fashioned is great. OTOH it's not L'Etoile - and it's not priced like L'Etoile, either. The food is very good and the prices are very reasonable. Which ain't half bad. ;)