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Apr 15, 2014 10:23 PM

Madison (UW) close to campus not miss?

I'm going there for a campus tour with my teenager "soon".
The only place I have as a "really have to" is the St. Vinnies dedicated to books. (awesome place, haven't been there since my father passed away because he loved that place) Any suggestions for close to campus food?

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  1. Are you looking for lunch? Or sticking around for dinner?

    These tend to be our go-to casual lunch spots when we're visiting the campus area.

    Brasserie V--Belgian inspired bar and restaurant
    The Old Fashioned--Wisconsin themed spot
    Dottie's Dumpling Dowry for Burgers

    If you were thinking of doing something ethnic or more inventive, do advise.

    On the way out of town, we like to drive down Willy Street and make stops at the Underground Butcher, Willy Street Co-Op, and Madison Sourdough to see if there's anything of interest to bring home with us.

    1. Welcome! Food cart season just started, with vendors setting up on Library Mall (campus end of State Street) and the surrounding area.

      Short Stack Eats, OSS and Bassett Street Brunch Club are new and people are saying good things:

      Here are a few recent "don't-miss-lists" from around the web:

      16 Replies
      1. re: jumble

        Have tried two of these spots, so I thought I would put in a few notes.
        We ate at Bassett Street Brunch club for breakfast in the fall and had the opportunity to eat there again for an evening snack earlier this spring. The place is super cute inside and the menu sounds great, but both times we had good things and items that missed the mark. While it may not have been super impressive, we'll still go again I'm sure as the reviews are generally positive and we are always looking for early opening breakfast spots for football weekends.

        We also tried Short Stack Eats just last weekend and really enjoyed their food. On the negative side, it is an order at the counter spot and the food took longer than most full-service breakfast restaurants. It was also terribly warm inside and were lucky to find seating on their patio. I don't think I could have enjoyed breakfast (especially with coffee) inside the restaurant, but hopefully they have a plan for better climate control as I look forward to eating there again!

        1. re: bte576


          I'm intrigued by your review of Bassett Street Brunch Club.

          Are you familiar with the Food Fight Group, here in Madison, and aware that BSB is part of that restaurant group?

          The reason I ask is that your experience has been mine, almost irrespective of which Food Fight restaurant I've chosen. Hit or miss.

          As such, I have made the decision to only patronize FF establishments that "hit".

          Most notably, Cooper's Tavern on the Square.

          Had not even HEARD of Short Stack Eats, so thank you for THAT recommendation!

          1. re: Monch

            I did know it was part of that group, but I have only been to a few of their spots. I have had breakfast at Bluephies several times, but not for years.

            Coopers is a somewhat frequent stop when in town-we had actually enjoyed beers there the night before visiting Short Stack Eats. I have been there more for beer than for food as I enjoy their selection and it seems they do a great job of keeping their taps clean, but the food has been enjoyable--it's just been a while since we've had a full meal there. I did have their frites for a snack back in April though and I can't stop thinking about what a good idea malt vinegar aioli is--I want to try making it at home!

            1. re: bte576

              Hi bte576, I would love to hear more about that malt vinegar aioli! What do you think are the ingredients? Homemade mayo, garlic, and malt vinegar as the acid in place of the usual lemon juice? Any herbs or mustard?

              1. re: bte576

                Nice call on the malt vinegar aioli!

                I Googled it and the recipe is dead simple.

                Glad to hear that folks are chowing and loving Madison!

                1. re: Monch

                  Monch, prior to asking bte576 I also conducted a google search for Coopers malt vinegar aioli recipe but could not seem to find their specific recipe. Would you please provide the link that you found for their recipe? Everyone has their own version of aioli but would like to try the one bte576 tried and you found for Coopers. Thanks.

                  1. re: Fowler

                    Oh, many apologies, Fowler.

                    I found A recipe...not THE Food Bobby Flay.

                    I misrepresented and hang my head in chowing shame!

                    1. re: Monch

                      AND, I am so ashamed that I've just dashed off an email to Coopers' Executive Chef asking for the recipe...what could asking hurt?


                      1. re: Monch

                        For all I know, it may not be anything more than purchased mayo mixed with malt vinegar because as I was trying to recall the flavors more closely, I did remember it being quite white in color…so maybe a little too white to be true aioli with yolks, but I still loved the kick of the malt vinegar and perhaps the strong flavor would have overpowered any strong commercial mayonnaise flavor?

                        Obviously, I hope to hear that it is homemade and that would be awesome if you can get the real recipe!

                        1. re: Monch

                          Here is the reply from Cooper's exec chef.

                          If you're unfamiliar, Duke's is a regionally available product in the south. Very different, to my palate, from and superior to Hellman's. YMMV.

                          (I have Duke's shipped to me....)

                          Hi , thanks for your interest. For the home cook, it is probably easiest to mix proportions of malt vinegar and a high quality mayonnaise, like Hellman's or Duke's, to their liking. They could take it further by making their own mayonnaise, which I'm sure they could find info on with a Google search. Cheers!

                          Tim Larsen

                          Executive Chef

                          The Coopers Tavern


                          1. re: Monch

                            Thanks Monch! I am quite surprised there is no garlic in their aioli. The name aioli alone is a partial reference to garlic. It would be like making garlic bread but omitting the garlic. :-)

                            Thanks again for sending the e-mail and reporting back with the answer.

                        2. re: Monch

                          Shame on you Monch! May you be chained to the bar at the Nitty Gritty for 30 days and have to eat their food 3x per day and put up with the drunks!

                          That ought to teach you a lesson you will never forget. :-)

                          Seriously though, thanks for taking the time to send an e-mail requesting the recipe.

                          1. re: Fowler

                            Seems we are of like minds, on NG, Fowler.

                            I actually live in Sun Prairie and Cannery Grill...which I went to twice...became NG. So much for that.

                            Now chain me to the bar at Tipsy Cow, and you have a bargain...killer burgers and specialty fries that I'm ashamed to love so deeply.

                            It doesn't hurt that it's the wonderful guys from Lombardino's over at Tipsy.

                            1. re: Monch

                              Monch, Over the years I have always found your advice to be spot on so I will be certain to try Tipsy Cow next time I am out there.

                              Thanks for the tip (no pun intended).

                              1. re: Fowler


                                Tipsy gives Old Fashioned a run for their money, downtown, in my opinion.

                                It didn't hurt Tipsy's reputation that they got the nod as the best burger in Wisconsin, by Business Insider!

                  2. re: Monch

                    >> Are you familiar with the Food Fight Group, here in Madison, and aware that BSB is part of that restaurant group?

                    >> The reason I ask is that your experience has been mine, almost irrespective of which Food Fight restaurant I've chosen. Hit or miss.

                    >> As such, I have made the decision to only patronize FF establishments that "hit".

                    You can consider Fresco as another Food Fight restaurant that "hits". I've eaten there several times and it has been consistently excellent.

              2. The Capitol square area is walking distance from campus. The Old Fashioned, on the square, was already mentioned. For breakfast/brunch, go to Marigold Kitchen, just off the square. You probably won't have a need for upscale food, but if you do, L'Etoile and Harvest are both on the square also.

                1. I believe that you're referring to the St. Vinnie's on Williamson Street.

                  If so, the previous recommendations for that area are fantastic.

                  If you're looking for interesting dinners, look into Forequarter and Pig in a Fur Coat (Pig is right on Willy Street). Weary Traveler is also a Willy Street gem.

                  Lazy Jane's is great for breakfast...also on Willy Street.

                  If you're on the square, please consider trying Tipsy Cow. Great food on the order of Old Fashioned.

                  1. Are you taking the Badger Bus from Milwaukee to Madison or will you have a car? After walking around campus all day you may not want to then walk to the capitol square or places even further East then hike all of the way back to the Union to catch the bus.

                    In general, L'Etoile is always very good but that is on the other side of the capitol from campus. Forequarter is even further East. I like walking but some people do not as much.