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Sardine in Madison

I've heard really mixed things about Sardine when it opened. Anyone had a recent experience with it?

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  1. My experience is from last summer, so not that recent, but better than nothing, I guess. Overall, I'd say I liked it but wasn't wowed by it. It looks like the menu has changed so I can't tell you exactly what I had, but I remember thinking that everything just needed a little more something. Maybe salt or lemon or some other up-front flavor. The service and atmosphere were very good - we weren't on the patio but it looked great. Personally I'd be willing to give it another shot.

    1. I went there for Sunday brunch last year and I loved it! I had a great dish - it was the crab, bacon and rock shrimp cakes, which came with two eggs and a salad. I enjoyed all of the food, and it was nice to have a variety of items like that at a reasonable price. Sitting out on the deck looking out at the lake past the parking was lovely too. I'd be happy to go back there next time I'm in town!

      www.sardinemadison.com

      1. I'm actually going there tonight, thats crazy, my girlfriend loves it, I'll be back to report later.

        4 Replies
          1. re: nsxtasy

            I guess counter to what most other people have thought, I had a great time.

            Our server was very nice, and very quick, We made reservations for 7, started out with wine for me, and a glass of champagne for my girlfriend. We also ordered the mussels as an app. the mussels were very good, a lot of vegetables in the broth, I was impressed. Before my girlfriend could finish sopping up the broth with pieces of baguette, the waitress brought more out.

            I had the steak and girlfriend had the half chicken, which was quite good, with a balsamic reduction of some kind, very tender. My steak was really fantastic, ordered medium rare, I ate the whole thing very quickly, probably one of the better steaks I've ever had. My girlfriend didn't finish the chicken, she has been there before, and was waiting out on the desert.

            She had the lemon tart, and I went with the chocolate mousse. The lemon tart was really fantastic, it was very tart, as I'm typing this my mouth is watering remembering the taste, the meringue was very rich, and the mousse was no slouch either, I'd easily go back again. The only bad part were the chairs, which apparently are meant for skinny girls with small arms. I however, as a normal sized guy kinda felt like I was sitting in a kids chair, but that’s all I can complain about.

            I had a great time, Great food, nice win selection, and prompt service, plus there was an excellent view of the lake, and delightful desert to top it off. Next up: breakfast there, I’ve been ordered to try the cheesy grits.

            1. re: brokentruc

              Sounds as if it has improved since its opening. We'll have to give it a try and report back.

              1. re: brokentruc

                Thanks for the review. I'm hoping to get there next weekend or thereabouts. Will post if I manage it.

          2. My wife and I were there this past autumn. We arrived around 9PM for dinner after making the mistake of trying to walk there from our hotel (on the square).

            Food was average for a mid-market brasserie. I had the oysters and steak frites, my wife had a grilled fish special (grouper or halibut) and we shared the charcuterie plate and a bottle of wine. The oysters were fresh and well prepared, my steak was overcooked (ordered medium rare, arrived medium+), the charcuterie was good (especially the pate or mouse or whatever liver paste was on the plate) and my wife enjoyed her fish. Wine had a reasonable markup.

            What struck us however was the poor service we received. Our server acted as though we were imposing on her throughout the meal. When we arrived, there were 4 or 5 other tables in various stages of their meals and two tables remained when we left (though the first and last diners of the night should receive the same level of service). We gave her the benefit of the doubt initially, but as the meal wore on, we could see her chatting with other servers and the bartender as our wine, water, and bread remained unfilled. Her inability/unwillingness to describe the specials appetizingly just added to the joke the service became.

            If we were to return, we'd sit at the bar and probably just eat small plates, however I doubt we'd return.

            1. I think it's great for bruch or dinner. Food has always been good. Wide array of options--everyone will find something they like including the vegetarians. Price are very reasonable. I will say the desserts are a little on the boring side and the picco frito is not worth the calories. But overall, i wouldn't hesitate. they also own a breakfast place called marigolds where there is usually a line out the door.

              1. I've eaten brunch there a handful of times -- usually when I don't want to deal with the crowd at Marigold Kitchen. I usually go with an omelette or salad and never have been disappointed. I love the interior and think they did a great job making the space look like it could have been there for a long time. I've always had great servers, but I'm usually there on a Sunday morning -- perhaps that selects for a server with a little more get-up-n-go?

                1. I really like Sardine and we go there a lot. I would never call the food original or special -- but it's a good, reliable, casual, mid-priced French bistro in a pleasant room with a beautiful view. Contrary to some posters I've always had good service here. I tend to think they do meat better than fish. The salad with beets and duck confit is a standout. Very glad to have this place in Madison.

                  1. Sardine is my very favorite restaurant in Madison. I have eaten there many times and have always had superlative food and fine service. Their wine list is always well thought out and reasonably priced (although I usually get an Anchor Steam on tap ! )
                    If you can get there early, sit outside to watch the waterski show!

                    1. Love it! I wouldn't agree about lots of vegetarian choices, but I have never had a bad time there! I have never done their brunch, but dinner has always been consistantly good.

                      1. I've had the opportunity to be in Madison twice over the past few months for work-related reasons and must say that Sardine is simply mediocre.

                        The brunch is not bad and has a nice selection of items. The dinner menu is also typical bistrôt cuisine (steak-frites, salmon, roasted chicken), while the wine list has a nice array of choices/prices (albeit a bit on the high end).

                        The food is simplyt "ok" at Sardine. Service both times was fine, yet not very attentive. My main problem with Sardine is that there is a somewhat of an unpleasant "bathroom-esque" odor that permeates throughout the restaurant. The bathrooms were not very clean either.

                        If one is expecting the quality of a similar type restaurant such as Les Halles in NYC or DC, then be warned that Sardine cannot compete in quality and price (Les Halles is cheaper and much better). I tend to think that the wine, menu, and dessert prices were a bit high for the quality of food and service at this location on two occasions.

                        Thus, I'm hoping there are better places in Madison...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: vinhotinto75

                          For what it's worth, I've been to Sardine many times and have never smelled the bathroom. It's possible some sort of horrific malfunction took place the day you were there.