This is my "official" review of Graze Restaurant in Madison: We ate there last night after seeing WICKED at the Overture Center.
Madison jumped on the local food movement long ago, but to my knowledge Graze is the first pub that serves all locally grown food (except for the oysters which are from Maine and various fish, including a "Sustainable Catch"). According to their website,
"The idea for Graze came from Chef Tory’s love of comfort foods. Inspired by the New York gastropub scene, the menus feature a range of classics executed on a higher level than traditional pub food. We chose the name Graze because grass-fed animals and rotational grazing are important to us. Also, we want the menu to inspire our guests to do just that: graze. There’ll always be a variety of dishes and small plates to choose from – the kind of stuff chefs and foodies love to eat."
The atmosphere is hip, very minimalist and roomy. Andy and I got there around 5, when it opens to serve dinner, on a Saturday evening. We had no problem getting a seat, though by the time we left, the place was pretty full.
On the menu, there is an array of elegantly simple starters and sharers including such comfort foods as a plate of various local pickles, a homemade dish of mac 'n' cheese to share, roasted bone marrow, and a plate of meat and cheese with soft bread. The back of the menu lists the local farms from which each food comes. We opted for the Sassy Cow Cheese Curds, which were the best cheese curds either of us has ever consumed!
Dinner entrees are again, simple in nature, but exquisitely prepared. My husband had a burger made with locally-sourced meat. His side of french fries tasted like a delicacy. Not greasy, just yummy. I had a beet salad, which was delicate and delicious.
The drinks were also, for the most part, local. The beer list was comprised of Wisconsin Brews; they even had a locally-made cider. Plus, they have a unique and fun house cocktail list, including a personal favorite made of gin, orange juice, and a splash of Cabernet.
My only criticism of the restaurant was the lack of vegetarian items. There were a few; it was not difficult for me to find something to eat, but there are so many local CSAs producing great produce - I was hoping to see more of them featured in dishes, rather than as sidekicks to meat.
With that said, we'll be back. I'll have my salad and eat it too. :)