That BBQ Joint

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

By Joshua Bartels

It was a blisteringly cold day in February. The kind of day where you just want to sit down next to a fireplace with a warm cup of hot chocolate and a book. However, I was craving some good ole’ fashioned barbecue. So, after class I headed straight towards That BBQ Joint.

That BBQ Joint is located at 901 Williamson Street, about two-and-a-half miles away from campus. Is the walk worth it? In a word: Frick yes! Okay, that was two words, but you get the idea. I was immediately welcomed to the restaurant with very friendly service. The eatery itself is on the smaller side, as it holds only about five tables, but it is very cozy with BBQ-themed art along the walls. After taking an embarrassingly long time to decide what to eat, I asked the clerk what he recommended, and he responded with the Rib Sammie, their rib sandwich.

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

After about a five minute wait, I got my warm Sammie along with sides of potato salad and brisket chili. The sandwich itself was very delicious; filled with extremely tender BBQ, lightly covered with their signature Mo’ Sauce, next to crisp onions and sliced pickles.  At first, it seemed a little lacking of sauce, but thankfully they give more for those who want it. With the added sauce, the sandwich was like a BBQ lovers dream come true, especially on such a cold evening. Their three options for BBQ sauce were all good, but I’d have to say that the Mo’ Spicy sauce was by far the best, as it left the perfect amount of that spicy tingling sensation of the tongue that the best sauces always do.

As for the sides themselves, they don’t quite compare to the greatness of the actual BBQ. The chili and the potato salad tasted like your generic chili and potato salad that a distant relative brings to a reunion. They were both good, just not great. Another negative to the restaurant is that it keeps odd hours. It is closed on both Monday and Tuesday, along with breaks between 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays.

So would I recommend That BBQ Joint? Why yes, yes I would. Even though the hours might not always be the most convenient, it’s located a bit farther away and the sides may not be outstanding, the BBQ itself is amazing, and if you’re going to That BBQ Joint for the BBQ, then it’s perfect. Not only that, it’s amazing. I know I’ll be returning there shortly to get another fix of some of the best BBQ Madison has to offer.

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Photo by Meghan Horvath

The Madison Blind keeps it simple, yet satisfying

By Claire Hornacek

Photo by Claire Hornacek

Photo by Claire Hornacek

Located on the rooftop of the Graduate Hotel, the new Madison Blind rooftop restaurant and bar offers breathtaking views of downtown Madison and simple yet flavorful dishes that capture the essence of the local food culture.

The clean, natural décor of light wooden chairs, white walls and long windows provides a comfortable, classy atmosphere.  The picturesque views on all sides of the Madison Blind are the center of attention and include sights of the Capitol, State Street and Lake Mendota.  A bar runs along one wall, and the adjacent patio is open for the summer months.

The chef buys as many ingredients as possible from local vendors and changes the menu periodically to highlight the produce of the season. The menu features Wisconsin favorites including fried cheese curds, sausage and breaded whitefish. They also offer new twists on old classics such as the elk poutine and the duck fat fries.

Photo by Claire Hornacek

Photo by Claire Hornacek

The cheese curds rival some of the best in town. They are served in a miniature mock frying basket with a creamy chipotle sauce. A light, crispy batter encases the gooey cheese.  Unlike some other fried curds, these cheesy bites are not excessively greasy. The chipotle sauce adds just the right amount of smoky, spicy flavor to bring the cheese curds to the next level.

The Quinoa Veggie Burger takes an interesting spin on the traditional veggie burger. Rather than a typical base made of soy, quinoa and potatoes are the main ingredients along with tomatoes, corn and beans. Southwest-inspired seasonings, fresh tomato and a smooth, cool avocado spread boost the flavor. The only downside to the burger’s potato base is that the patty easily falls apart. This burger requires both hands to stay held together when eating. The burger is also served with a generous side of the Portage Salad, which is also available as a meal; it is made with kale, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette. This light, fresh salad is an excellent complement to the Quinoa Veggie Burger, and it stands out as a colorful, healthy alternative to the usual restaurant pairing of a burger and french fries.

The Banana S’more Pi à la Mode is the perfect end to the meal. The rich and decadent Pi looks similar to an empanada and is filled with chocolate, marshmallows and fresh bananas. The chocolate and marshmallows form a velvety smooth mixture, and a crispy, delicate crust gives the Pi an extra layer of texture.  The Pi alone is satisfying, but when paired with a big scoop of Sassy Cow Creamery ice cream, it comes close to perfection.

The Madison Blind’s sophisticated atmosphere, beautiful views, and simple, crowd-pleasing menu make it the perfect spot to bring visiting relatives, a date or a group of friends. The fresh local ingredients and alternating menu items keep guests coming back for more.

Heritage Tavern

Trendy gastropub Heritage Tavern serves as a burgeoning foodie destination

By Meghan Horvath

Venture a few beats off Capitol Square toward 131 East Mifflin Street and you’ll encounter Heritage Tavern – a rustic yet classy gastropub known for its daring flavor combinations and bold assemblage of locally sourced ingredients.

Unbeknownst to many is the fact that Heritage opened its doors just a month ago in early September. Given how flourishing and decidedly distinguished the new restaurant has become, Heritage Tavern’s true state of infancy is quite impossible to discern.

Decorously furnished, Heritage’s leather booths and beautiful wooden tables sit atop minimalist deco tiles that contribute a sense of 1920s nostalgia to the otherwise modern trends of the establishment. In terms of atmosphere, Heritage allows the buoyancy of its patrons and the culinary mastery of its dishes to speak for themselves.

Glancing from table to table, it’s easy to note the enthusiasm with which dishes are being savored and the vivacity with which laughter is being spread. Both sensations are doubtlessly contagious, seeing as all patrons bear genuine grins of ease.

Allowing for such a heightened measure of relaxation is the fact that Heritage is dimly lit. Individual spotlights gleam down upon each table, as if to highlight and microscopically expose the depths of flavor concealed in each dish. Regardless of this exposition, catching sight of the entrée is by no means a requirement to enjoyment of the meal. Taste buds will be busy at work, decoding the flavor profiles of ingredients both familiar and foreign.

Now to get into the dishes themselves. Notably melding savory and slightly sweet notes is the Crispy Pork Belly & Seared Sashimi, served with a definitively licorice-like star anise and summer melon compote. Also delicious is the Saffron & Panko Crusted Wild Salmon, served with a capellini pasta, clam tomato broth, and mixed vegetables. The Roast Pork Tenderloin & Seared Foie Gras too offers indulgent flavors of pistachios and an apple-bacon-truffle reduction sauce. Along the same lines of decadence is the Peanut Oil-Fried Snapper that is prepared with a lobster curry sauce and served with sticky rice and bacon.

Despite the flavor variations, all of the entrees exemplify the farm-to-table theme that is very prominent in Madison’s culinary scene. Similar to nearby eateries, Heritage Tavern reaps the benefits of its surrounding local farming communities and their inevitable plethora of sustainable produce and ingredients. While the concept may not be incalculably original, I’m not complaining.