SchoolGrounds Cafe

Schoolhouse CafeIn a word: Classic.

The specs: #01042  
4691 County Hwy N, Cottage Grove 53527
Details at Yelp, Facebook

Latest SchoolGrounds Cafe news and reviews

JM ate a cookie and some lemonade.
Nichole and Sharon each ate a crepe, and Nichole had a coffee.
The bill was about $8/person, plus tip.
JM gave SchoolGrounds Cafe a C+; Nichole gave SchoolGrounds Cafe a B+; Sharon gave SchoolGrounds Cafe a B (see our grading rubric).

SchoolGrounds Cafe in Cottage Grove feels like a downtown Madison coffee shop, but in Cottage Grove. According to Sharon, our Cottage Grove insider, SchoolGrounds rebranded and changed their menu in the month before we visited. It mostly consists of crunchy, organicky-type versions of standard breakfast fare: pancakes, biscuits & gravy, etc., along with standard set of coffee drink offerings.

We went on Saturday, though, and the whole menu for food could be just thrown out since they only make crepes on Saturday and JM didn't want a crepe, so he settled for a chocolate chunk cookie which the staff comped him since his expectations were dashed. It was a little dry, but overall was fine. But don't pull the pancakes out from under him, please. He was able to get a lemonade, but it was made with brown sugar and ended up latte colored. The taste was fine, though.

Lemonade and cookie

The ladies got two savory buckwheat crepes with cheese, spinach and mushrooms, one with ham and onions. The coffee, always the key metric, was hot, tasty and served by friendly baristas.


SchoolGrounds has some nice art on the walls and other boho trappings. And there's a spiral staircase of doom!

Sarku Japan

In a word: No, Sarku.

The specs: #01041 
111 W. Towne Mall, 53719
Details at Yelp, official web site

Latest Sarku Japan news and reviews

JM ate the chicken teriyaki.
Nichole ate the veggie soba.
We split some chicken dumplings.
The bill was $15, or $7.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Sarku Japan a C; Nichole gave Sarku Japan a C- (see our grading rubric).

Sarku Japan is in the West Towne food court.  There's a ton of better food here, even if just from McDonald's (but really, when at West Towne, our reco is to try Burgers Plus, and try something other than a burger).

The idea at Sarku Japan is: 1) Pick Your Meat, 2) Pick Your Starch, 3) Watch as Something is Prepared Before Your Eyes. This one doesn't have sushi. Hm.


The food is fresh, but void of flavor. Contra relative Kato's Cajun, Sarku could use a spice of SOME kind. The chicken teriyaki was filling, but JM's had better stir fry at Happy Wok. Nichole, too, found her veggies suffered sameness and blandness despite her choice of noodles. The chicken dumplings we got were left off the original order, but promptly supplied when we asked. These were the best part of the meal.

Dumpling things

The best we can say is that Sarku Japan's free samples are the correct portion size. We had leftovers, but we didn't take them home. We're sure there's somebody who is grateful for this place being in the mall for their lunch break, but we'd probably go just about anywhere else.


Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. More about it here. Read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook, or read an excerpt on Carson Gulley and some bonus bits on Porchlight, Argus, Sunshine Supper, and Babcock.


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