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Order up!

August 1, 2010

I will have to make a mental note never to go on vacation during either of the two “Restaurant Weeks” that Madison Magazine sponsors each year. The twice-yearly event, the most recent of which ended Friday, offers some very impressive deals at some of Madison’s finest restaurants. Admittedly, it boosts table traffic during two of the year’s slowest periods, but the event also allows each kitchen to strut its stuff, offering a pre-fixe menu of multiple choices from three categories for only $25 per patron. It’s a gift to bargain hunters and foodies alike.

We took advantage of RW this year to visit Sardine, one of our long-time favorites located in the old Machinery Row building with a view Lake Monona. From four appetizer, five entree and three dessert choices Jean and I were able to put together what we agreed was one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time.

As an appetizer, she chose the house salad, a blend of mixed greens and bibb lettuce, shaved shallots, crispy chickpeas, roasted beets and sieved egg topped with tarragon champagne vinaigrette matched with a glass of 2009 Chateau du Donjon Minervois Rose. (Wines paired with courses were $6.50 per glass extra.) Mine was rock shrimp cakes with remoulade over a petite endive salad paired with a glass of Spanish Conde de Subriats Brut Cava. Overall, I won that round, the savory shrimp cakes being delicious. But we were both intrigued by the crunchy, presumably deep-fried chickpeas, which were an excellent complement to the salad.

We tied during the entrée course. Her goat cheese and Swiss chard croquettes, served with roasted beet and green bean salad with crème fraiche and a course mustard dressing, combined flavor and textures in new and interesting ways. The accompanying 2007 LaTour “Grand Ardeche” Chardonnay proved a suitable match to a meal that delivered more than I would have thought possible.

At our server’s suggestion, I tried the hanger steak au poivre, served over sautéed Swiss chard with a side potatoes dauphinoise. The succulent little beef slices combined with the crispy chard for good textural variety, and my accompanying glass of 2008 Padrillos Malbec from Argentina proved a hearty match for my delicious entrée.

I won the dessert course. Jean was a little disappointed, expecting more in the way of flavor and fruit in her vanilla bean and berry pot de crème. I was happier with my key lime meringue tart with cocoanut rum sauce and toasted cocoanut.

The restaurant buzzed with diners and tables turned pretty quickly, such was the demand for the bargain menu. The next Restaurant Week will likely pop up sometime in late January, an event we already have planned to put on our gustatory calendar.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike and Jean permalink*
    August 2, 2010 1:48 pm

    Hi! Thanks for your comment. We’re glad you enjoyed the posting.


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