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Veggie Variant

Post by William Mitchell on 7/3/2012 10:00am

Restaurants have only three chances to make a good first impression. The first occurs when the customer walks through the door, the second when presented with a menu, the third when the food arrives.

The Green Owl’s atmosphere sets the stage with cool, green walls adjacent to warm orange and yellow murals with shadow birch trees. As counterpoint, one whole wall is covered in stained wood adorned with the owner’s sister-in-law’s attractive food still lifes.

The menu announces the Green Owl is a niche restaurant. It’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly of course, but it’s not a celebration of grains, fruits, vegetables and fungi, but rather an ode to meat-analog cooking.

While perusing the menu we enjoyed some bottles of ice-cold local brews (meat may be “evil," but at least they are not scolds when it comes to imbibing) and munched on a basket of baked kale crisps. At first, the in-your-face vegetalness of the kale put me off, but before long I was munching on it like it was popcorn. Score one for the Owl. We started our meal with an order of the Middle-Eastern Platter, which consisted of hummus, tabouli, muhammara, and baba ganoush.

Post by Emily Mills on 7/22/2008 3:15pm

pizza.jpgRound these parts, Chicago's influence seems to hold the most sway over our pizza tastes. Deep dish, or at least thick crust, rules the land. For those of us whose bowels quiver in fear at the very thought of deep dish, this has been a hard state of affairs to bear. But no more! In just the last year, two new pizza joints have opened their doors and begun offering Neapolitan style, wood-fired oven cooked, deliciously thin-crusted pies.

Post by thechrisproject on 2/25/2007 6:02pm

Bluephies bills itself as "Contemporary fun food in an ultra-modern setting. Serving everything from nouvelle Southwestern to old fashioned comfort food, with a vegetarian tilt. Delicious desserts." Bluephies is a Food Fight restaurant and, in the mold of the other food fight restaurants, has a nice selection of items for vegetarians.

Bluephies is located on Monroe Street in the Knickerbocker Place shopping center. Executive Chef Bill Horzuesky is in charge of the food and his wife Melanie is the restaurant's manager. The interior of the restaurant is really nice. It has a very modern look, lots of nice wood and bright bold colors everywhere. The amazingly high ceilings are host to a number of cool lights and hanging... propeller things. We went on a Friday, midway between lunch and dinner so the place was pretty empty. We were seated immediately and shown the menus.

Post by thechrisproject on 12/29/2006 7:18pm

thai-front.jpgIn my Bahn Thai review I lamented the fish/oyster sauce content of some Thai restaurants' supposedly vegetarian items. In a comment, reader Betty suggested that I check out Sukho Thai on Regent Street. I told her I'd check it out and over this (extended) holiday vacation I got a chance to dine there with a few friends.

Sukho Thai occupies two storefronts on Regent Street. You enter through the one on the right. The front half of this part of the restaurant appeared to be a little store with rice and spices. A waiter greeted us and led us to the next storefront over, which was the dining area proper. The interior is nice enough: not too fancy but not dingy either. We got our menus, ordered some hot tea, and starting drooling over our options.

Post by thechrisproject on 11/29/2006 5:20pm

The Mermaid Cafe is a little coffee and sandwich shop located on the near East side. It opened last December and quickly became a neighborhood favorite for coffee, sandwiches, and bakery items. I stopped by last week to check it out.

Lisa Jacobsen, the owner, opened the oddly shaped (14 feet wide at the front and 4 feet wide at the back) cafe a year ago to bring a little piece of Chicago, Manhattan, and Seattle to Madison. The Isthmus has an interview in which Lisa discusses its inception. The cafe recalls "little urban holes-in-the-wall with good food and no theme-park atmosphere." The aim is simple: good coffee, the best lattes in town, and food cooked with good ingredients. Like some of the other places I've reviewed, she aims to use local and organic foods when possible, but doesn't really advertise it.

Post by thechrisproject on 11/15/2006 10:07pm

Hi, my name is Chris Norris and I'm a vegetarian. I started writing for dane101 when Nicole, the vegan restaurant reviewer, left town. Nicole has left quite a legacy in my mind. Besides writing with alarming regularity, she had hit many of my favorite restaurants. Jesse, the editor of this website, had told me that I could re-review some of Nicole's restaurants since I was writing from a slightly different (mostly a more lactose tolerant) perspective. I decided this week to go through all Nicole's old posts and add comments to some of them. Enjoy, and comment!

Post by thechrisproject on 11/2/2006 9:35am

I realized last week that almost all of my reviews thus far have been of restaurants that are within walking distance of my house. Since this site is, not, I thought that I should branch out a little bit. When a coworker told me about a Russian restaurant in Fitchburg, I wanted to check it out.

Arbat, named after a famous street in Moscow, is located at 3000 Cahill Main, right off of Fish Hatchery Road in the same strip mall that the Great Dane is. It's outside of Madison, but just barely. Madison Magazine says it is "Madison's first-ever Russian restaurant," although another review disputes that fact. After a cursory read of that last review in the Wisconsin State Journal, I envisioned a somewhat more upscale dining experience. That's not to say that I was disappointed, I was just surprised.

Post by thechrisproject on 10/25/2006 8:04pm

Jamerica is Madison restaurant with a history. According to their webpage, they started out as a Jamaican grocery store on Willy Street in 1965. They added the restaurant shortly after that (they now also have a food cart on Library Mall). That means they predate the Willy Street Coop by almost a decade. I set out to discover what gave this restaurant such staying power.

The restaurant seems warm and welcoming from across the street. Its bright green, yellow, and red front definitely sticks out, especially in October in Wisconsin. There are usually a number of chairs lining the building next to the steps. I see Martin, the owner of Jamerica, out there a lot during the warmer months. He always looks an order of magnitude happier than anyone else I see.

Post by thechrisproject on 10/13/2006 10:39pm

m_sign.jpgThe Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings is one of the few places in Madison that you can find a real bustling crowd. Enjoyment of the bustle is a personal preference, but it is a unique experience in Madison. Part of my Farmer's Market experience often includes a trip to Marigold Kitchen, just off the square on 118 South Pinckney Street.

On Saturday mornings, Marigold has quite a bustle as well. At about 9:30am, when I arrived, the line to get to the counter to order stretched nearly to the door. The line moves quickly, however, and the traversal of it gives you time to study the menu, absorb the daily specials, and drool over the scrumptious pastries. You can also watch the cooks, who operate just behind counter.

Post by thechrisproject on 10/6/2006 6:36pm

I like going out for sushi. I don’t eat sushi, but I like going to sushi restaurants. I enjoy the experience. Most places I’ve been to have a variety of vegetable rolls that can be quite nice. This week I decided to go to Edo Japanese restaurant on Park Street.

Edo is open late, which is definitely a plus for me. I’m typically a poor meal planner. I often don’t think about the fact that I need to eat until it’s too late. Most Madison restaurants seem to adhere pretty strictly to a 9pm closing time. Edo is open until 11pm Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on the weekend. They also offer take-out and free delivery.