Field Table’s farm-to-fork ethos means giving beautiful vegetables a star turn.
In case you missed it...the last year has seen tremendous changes in Madison dining. Multiple Indian restaurants launched; ramen bars exploded downtown; more brew pubs and multi-tapline bars opened.This is our recap of where Isthmus reviewers have been eating and drinking since the publication of our last Dining special section. With so many restaurants focusing on fresh ingredients and seasonal dishes, not every dish mentioned may be available at all times. Reviews are by Catherine Capellaro, Erin Clune, Linda Falkenstein, Amelia Cook Fontella, Allison Geyer, Kyle Nabilcy, Adam Powell and Candice Wagener.
1847 at the Stamm House
A relaunch of the remodeled historic farmhouse, this time aimed more at a supper club audience, gets it right. The Stamm burger, topped with crispy cheese curds, is more than a gimmick; the trout and fried lake perch are impressive, too. Whitefish chowder and pierogi, hard to find elsewhere, are good shares for starting the meal. — K.N.
The focus is on the buffet. This one runs three tables deep, with a wide variety of dishes that change every day. Beef chapli kebab, chicken tikka masala and dal makhani are all good picks. — A.P.
Bar food in the Wisconsin tradition, a bloody Mary with a beer back of Lake Louie Warped Speed Scotch Ale, or an Absolut and tonic with fresh-squeezed lime are correctly prepared and liberally dispensed. The Reuben is a towering stack of pastrami on marble rye; the 1/3-pound cheeseburger is a beast, with lightly seasoned fresh beef. — A.P.
A spinoff of both the popular food carts and the first Banzo brick-and-mortar location, Banzo Shuk features lamb pitas and sweet potato falafel (batata) served with the yogurt-like sauce labneh. Plus, the same fresh-cut potato chips grace the inside of the traditional falafel sandwiches. Baklava, basbousa (coconutty cake, almost like cornbread in texture) and dessert pita round out a nice dessert menu. — K.N.
Breakwater Burger — Fox Heritage Farms beef topped with an outsized stack of bacon and onions and finished with aioli.
Revamped space along the Yahara River features an outdoor patio and the Breakwater Burger — Fox Heritage Farms beef topped with an outsized stack of bacon and onions and finished with aioli. — A.P.
Brocach on the Square
This revamp of the pub retains some Irish classics, but favors a mainstream American bistro menu. The half of a roasted chicken features crisp skin with plenty of lemon and herbs, and juicy meat. The reuben is an excellent, meaty rendition of the classic. — K.N.
This Ethiopian favorite has a beautiful new home on Williamson Street, with a spacious bar area and the same familiar dishes as served originally on State Street. The dorowot (chicken and carrot stew), alicha (cauliflower, carrots and potatoes) and the peanut stew come ladled on sour injera, and despite the presence of the spice blend berbere, most are quite mild. A few East African dishes are also on the menu. — A.C.F.
Beans are by Intelligentsia, bakery by nearby Batch Bakehouse. The theme is bicycling, and you can catch up on the latest bike magazines while sipping your well-made cortado. — L.F.
Colombian fair-trade beans make for a good cup, but the real draw here in the lobby of the Uncommon apartments is the local homemade lunch fare: empanadas, tamales, soups from Herbs, Spices and More in Arena, chicken pot pie and quiche Lorraine from the Paoli Bread and Brat Haus. — L.F.
High-end doughnuts with wild flavors like coconut cream pie are more than just gimmicks; many ingredients are organic, and the fruit is local and organic. Treats like a bourbon pecan pie bar with rich eggy custard and a caramel brownie will please sweets lovers. Watch for innovative evening pop-ups in the space. — K.N.
There are just 16 seats at five tables, but it’s worth grabbing one for the rotisserie chicken, sandwiches like the chicharron (lightly frizzled chunks of pork, with tangy salsa criolla) and the lomo saltado (chopped beef topped with french fries), as well as a small selection of sides. — K.N.
Everly's shaved vegetable dish is a standout.
Though it’s not a vegetarian restaurant, the menu is a vegetarian’s dream come true — there’s an entire section devoted to vegetables, and they’re so good you can make a meal out of them. The shaved vegetable dish is a standout, and the toasts are fun. Beef tartare and pan-roasted salmon are also standouts. — A.G.
A coffee shop/farm-to-table restaurant/wine and cocktail bar hybrid, Field Table excels at flavor pairings on both small plates and large. The “forest bowl” is appetizing and nutrient-rich; aburi-style salmon with soba noodles and an egg yolk also lets the ingredients speak for themselves. — A.G.
Five Star Korean BBQ
This spot has true Korean touches — but no barbecue (yet). Go for the bibimbap, the bulgogi and the ja jang myun. — A.C.F.
Fuji Sushi & Hibachi
The hibachi room is good fun, making dining an event. The bento box also makes for a nice meal. Choose a meat (chicken, beef, salmon or shrimp), which can be prepared either teriyaki or tempura style. It comes alongside fried rice, a California roll and soup or salad. — C.W.
Seattle-style teriyaki is the draw at Glaze Teriyaki.
Seattle-style teriyaki is the draw here, a grilled protein served on rice, with a sweet/spicy soy-based sauce and a side salad. Choose from chicken, steak, pork loin, salmon, tofu or wok-sautéed vegetables. Sides include steamed edamame, a lightly tart cucumber salad and addictive deep-fried shishito peppers. — L.F.
Savory crepes are made with buckwheat, which lends itself to a slightly denser crepe with crispier edges. Sweet crepes use the traditional flour-based recipe and are filled with either lemon curd, Nutella or chocolate sauce and topped with a generous dollop of real whipped cream. Other don’t-miss items: the french onion soup and the lavender crème brulee. — C.W.
Lalo’s Mexican Restaurant
Good chips, two spicy salsas, and favorites like nachos, flautas, chiles rellenos, enchiladas and milanesa done right. Breakfasts and specialties like pozole and menudo are available only on Saturday. — C.W.
The Lone Girl
This new Waunakee brewpub features lots of seating and a lavish second-floor patio. The Off the Rails IPA and Sweet Baby Stout are very drinkable. Pair either with the Smash & Grab burger, a Big Mac clone. — K.N.
Tavern snacks, bar meals (like an of-the-moment burger), wood-fired and steel pan pizza and drinks from the folks who launched Merchant make this a popular spot from lunch to after midnight. — K.N.
Build-your-own burrito spot takes a cue from Chipotle, but with more expansive options including tortas. The picadillo, a mixture of ground pork and ground beef, is a standout filling. — C.W.
Macha Tea Company
Matcha and other teas; colorful bakery treats and Friday pop-up lunches with delicious food. The menu might be a selection of donburi (rice bowls), an impromptu dal vs. tom kha soup contest, or whatever inspires the kitchen on a given day. — C.C.
Truly a neighborhood place. The menu incorporates pub favorites, but there are some fun twists and unexpected items, too. The house chili features chicken, yet it’s not a white chili. Crunchy jalapeño poppers come with a side of grape habanero jam. A cut above the usual slider is the MTP Primer, with sliced prime rib topped with the Pub’s signature “horsey sauce” and served on mini pretzel buns. — C.W.
The Hawaii Style is the dish most true to poke’s roots of Miko Poké’s six house combinations. Choose this ahi tuna-centric bowl or create your own. A vegan bowl called the Coco Curry is also a success, with tahini, coconut curry, edamame, avocado. — K.N.
Mini Hot Pot
The charming little spot specializes in a classic East Asian style of soup in which meats and vegetables are cooked, fondue style, in a simmering cauldron of broth. Diners cook on electric burners built right into the tabletops. It’s customizable — pick a protein (beef, pork, chicken, crab or a seafood medley), choose a broth base (there’s spicy Sichuan, coconut, Korean kimchi, mushroom and spicy-sour Thai), and choose add-ons from a well-appointed vegetable tray. — A.G.
Focused menu with four types of ramen, plus a rotating chef’s special ramen. The Morris ramen comes with chashu (slow-braised) pork belly, ajitama (marinated soft-boiled egg) and menma (fermented bamboo shoots), but diners can also add toppings. — A.G.
My Sister’s Kitchen
This relaunch of Middleton’s Three Sisters keeps the great breakfasts the homey restaurant was known for. Scrambles, french toast, “the Big Sister” eggs benedict all shine. There’s also homemade pie. — C.W.
Off Broadway Ale House
Start with a few rounds of beer and a collection of appetizers. The Green County meat and cheese board comes with heaping portions of braunschweiger and cubed cheese. French fries are outstanding: crispy, thin cut, delicately salted in the style of frites. Hot chicken wings come with gorgonzola-topped greens. The 24 taps are thoughtfully curated. — A.P.
Om transformed a blighted ex-Chinese buffet into a great Indian restaurant, with spices at the forefront. Lunch buffet as well as an expansive array of south Indian, Indo-Chinese and tandoori specialties, plus plenty of curries and rice dishes. — A.G.
The first step in an ambitious revamping of the luggage area of the old Milwaukee Road depot, this coffee and sandwich shop excels at sandwiches, especially panini. Look for special happy hours and dinners. — L.F.
Look for the butter corn variant of the basic miso ramen, a wildly flavorful bowl with sweet, bready, funky notes that call to mind a big barleywine ale, or the shio ramen. — K.N.
A couple of unusual ramen stylings include the gyuniku ramen: a spicy beef base oddly reminiscent of chili, which delivers a modest bump of heat without making things uncomfortable. A side menu of izakaya-style skewers is worth checking out as well, including some hefty shell-on shrimp. — K.N.
Red’s move to more spacious quarters on West Washington was smart. New, inventive, non-sushi dishes include Wagyu beef tartare and brandy-cured foie gras, but all the classic sushi, sashimi and signature rolls are back, too. — A.G.
Rising Sons - Sauk Point Square
A west-side location for the State Street Lao-Thai restaurant fills out the world cuisine in this strip mall. Soups, curries, and pad Thai are all good, but lovers of serious spice should try the pad pet basil. — C.W.
The Robin Room
The relaxed yet bustling lounge sets a new standard for cocktails in town. Bartender Chad Vogel features top-notch versions of classics and a slate of house concoctions. — E.C.
Rockhound Brewing's roasted red pepper stuffed with saffron risotto on braised kale with caponata and herb sauce.
The signature pot pies are terrific, with a puff pastry top and plenty of chunks of meat; these pies don’t try to glide by on gravy. Yet even the gravy is good: creamy and peppery. Carrots, onions, celery, corn and potatoes enhance the filling rather than pad it. Chicken, beef and veggie are all good. Beers from Nate Warnke include Mosquito Bite IPA and Grinder coffee porter. — L.F.
Salvatore’s Tomato Pies - Sun Prairie
The new space makes Sal’s a restaurant, not just a pizzeria. Pizzas remain inventive, with local toppings; new entrees include a homey spaghetti and meatballs, short rib ragu and a standout porchetta. — K.N.
Stone Creek Coffee
Two pour-over methods and an Aeropress are available for the brewing of Stone Creek’s meticulously sourced beans. This is the first Madison location for the Milwaukee-based cafe chain. — L.F.
Sugar River Pizza
Specialty pizzas with locally sourced ingredients include the Steak pizza, generously loaded with chunks of T-bone and Porterhouse steak, sautéed green peppers and mushrooms, caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese; and the Baked Potato, with a homemade ranch sauce as the base, topped with crispy waffle fries, diced red onions, bacon and cheddar cheese. The space in Verona is large, with two dining rooms and a long bar. — C.W.
Amber Indian’s beef chapli kabab has a real kick.
The lunch buffet is distinguished by some excellent preparations: plump grilled shrimp with peppers; seekh kardhai (ground chicken with onion and garlic, finished in the oven); palak paneer (homemade cheese and stewed spinach). Dinners are enormous, so choose wisely. Chapli kababis Peshawari (minced beef kebabs) was the unexpected hero of the menu — truly spicy, with a complex, earthy kick and slow-burning heat. — A.P.
The Thirsty Goat
The Fitchburg sports pub specializes in smoked meats, flavored with a dry rub and served “naked” so diners can discern the deep flavor to the meat. The brisket or the baby back ribs are both good choices, as is the salmon. — L.F.