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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Go Beyond Football in Madison


2. Where to Eat

L'Etoile ranks as one of the city's finest restaurants thanks to its award-winning chef.  

Taste the best Wisconsin has to offer at the Old Fashioned, a bustling spot on the Capitol Square that serves meat, cheese, and a selection of 150 beers from small producers across the state. Share the house-made Wisconsin beer-battered cheese curds ($6.95) before moving on to updated takes on classic supper club fare: plates of fried cod, perch, and walleye with a lemon-caper tartar ($14.95) on Fridays and a two-course prime rib dinner ($28.95) on Saturdays.

Reserve a table at elegant L’Etoile, the leader of the city’s culinary revival since it was taken over in 2005 by Tory Miller, who was named this year’s James Beard Chef of the Midwest. The menu changes daily, but you can expect French technique and global flavors in entrées like pheasant served with polenta, Italian sausage, and seasonal vegetables in a pinot noir jus ($40). For a more casual take on Miller’s cuisine, head next door to the seasonally-inspired gastropub Graze (entrées $10–$19).

Snack on small plates of seared lamb carpaccio ($12) and grilled octopus salad ($14) at Merchant, where you’ll also find a list of craft cocktails with fresh seasonal ingredients. Linger after dinner for D.J. sets that start at 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, or wake up with a pork belly breakfast sandwich ($13) on the Saturday brunch menu before heading to the farmers’ market a block away.

Published on Jun 8, 2012 as a web exclusive.

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