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Sep 17, 2009 07:39 AM

Madison WI area business dinner

Hi 'hounds! I will be in the Madison area next week for a large software conference. Looking to host a business dinner for 6-8 people, and I am wondering if there are any new places for fine dining-- I usually go to Harvest, L'Etoile, or Magnus. Any others? Thanks in advance for all assistance--

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  1. The places you list are SOLID. Two places that have had mixed reviews are Sardine ( and FRESCO (

    Sardine offers a rare dining opportunity with a view of Lake Monona. This restaurant is from the folks at Marigold who do very good work. Only dined once and thought the experience was OK but not wow. Friends who I trust have eaten since and think it's outstanding. Others think it's snooty and overpriced (this is Madison afterall).

    FRESCO is on the rooftop of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on State Street. It offers an amazing view of the Capitol especially in the evening when lit. I enjoyed my experience here while my dining partners were not overly impressed.

    Good luck and let us know what you decide and your experience.

    1. Agree about your choices.

      If it's been awhile since you've been to Restaurant Magnus, I would recommend that you check out their website. They have shifted from South American to Scandinavian cuisine.

      If you have carnivores, you might look into Samba. Brazilian steakhouse! Even if you have non-carnivores, the salad bar is fantastic and can easily be a meal in, and of, itself. Nice wines, as well.

      If you're up for really nice Italian, in a rather kitschy atmosphere, look into Lombardino's. Not new, but maybe new to you.

      Good luck!

      1. I heart L'Etoile but as for new places... Muramoto downtown might be worth checking out. It's not white-linens-black-jacket fine dining, but the food and flavors are exquisite and definitely fine dining standards!

        hope that helps.

        1. Harvest, L'Etoile, Muramoto, Lombardinos and Magnus are the top as far as quality of cuisine as far as I am concerned. Magnus has changed to a Scandinavian menu this year. It's supposed to be great, but nothing on the menu appeals to me.

          I second the recommendation of Fresco. I have enjoyed every meal I have had there. I love their ricotta gnocchi. I don't think the food is as good as L'Etoile, but the view is beautiful. They have an outdoor terrace that is wonderful in beautiful weather.

          Neither my SO nor I love sushi. We both love Muramoto. They have so many more items than a standard sushi bar. My SO loves their hangar steak. They also have interesting mixed drink. I could have a liquid dinner there. I don't know if it is exactly fine dining. It's definitively fine-tasting food.