In a word: The upscale beer and cheese place.
The specs: #0287
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Food Racket, Madison Beer Review, the Other Side of the Ocean, Yelp, food608, Cap Times 1/12/2008 and 1/24/2008, Ruppert Food Blog; TDPF commentary; mention at Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; official web site;
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Chris ate the rosemary chicken with a Blanche de Bruxelles.
JM ate the ham and cheese sandwich.
Nichole ate the avocado BLT with a Lindeman's Framboise.
We split a piece of cheesecake.
The bill was $49, or $16.33/person, plus tip.
Chris gave Brasserie V an A; JM and Nichole gave Brasserie V an A- (see our grading rubric).
Brasserie V (as in "vantastic") was packed the Wednesday night we went. Most of the clientele wore tiny, chic eyeglasses and looked right at home sipping from any of a number of the Belgian beers on tap. The small menu was nonetheless decently balanced, and though we left judgment of the frites to other palates, we did sample an entree and 2 sandwiches. And, of course, some beer.
Chris' Blanche de Bruxelles was eminently pleasing to his palate. Nichole went out on a limb with the raspberry beer and can now say she knows what an actual girly beer is like. The Framboise got cloying after a little while, but it was worth trying once. It would have paired well with the night's cheese plate, which featured 3 Wisconsin cow cheeses and 2 imported non-cow varieties. It made us proud to be 'Sconnies.
A bread and cracker plate featuring Potter's crackers accompanied the orange rosemary chicken entree. The butter seemed to be infused with orange zest, a nice surprise. (Unfortunately at this point our camera konked out.)
Something we all noticed was how well-appointed the table was, with large, high-quality white napkins and hefty tableware. The latter came in especially handy for Chris, whose orange rosemary chicken came on the bone. He found that the skin was highly seasoned and flavorful, but not necessarily with orange and rosemary as the top notes. It was still pleasing, it just wasn't what he'd expected. The mashed potatoes with garlic and parmesan, as well as the green beans, were good sides, and everything was presented well.
Nichole and JM opted for sandwiches. JM's was an unusually designed creature, a ham and cheese with the cheese broiled on top of the bun. (Come to think of it, the silverware came in handy with this dish too.) The flavors in the sandwich were very complementary. The bag of Miss Vickie's chips was a little incongruous, however.
The avocado BLT was a good choice for Nichole. The bread was grilled to an exceeding crunchiness, and came topped with Nueske's B, fresh, thinly cut T, plenty of mayo, and ripe squishy avocado. It all added up to a deceptively filling dinner.
One slice of cheesecake proved to be a good sweet to end with. It had a soft crust of Potter's graham crackers, and was actually quite light for a cheesecake. More whipped than the dense rich things that one would find at an even higher-scale 'aurant. We left off the Door County cherries, the absence of which made the cake's intense sweetness all the more noticeable.
The waitstaff was pleasant and very knowledgeable. We thought her recommendations for beer and food were quite good. We'd come back, especially on a weeknight when a table would be easier to get. From the looks of it, Brasserie V stands for victory.