In a word: Stuck.
JM ate the morning bun and a chocolate croissant with chocolate milk.
Nichole ate the mushroom quiche with a coffee (and some bites of JM's breakfast).
We got a brioche and a key lime mini-tart to take home.
The bill was $11, or $5.50/person. plus tip.
JM gave La Brioche a B+; Nichole gave La Brioche a C+ (see our grading rubric).
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La Brioche may not be long for this world, what with the Midvale Plaza Shopping Center renovation and all (we were unable to turn up any online gossip about what they plan to do - just feedback from the neighborhood that they'll be missed). So, we're glad we made it - we're just not sure we'll grow particularly attached at this point.
On a grey Saturday morning, the place was hopping; there's not much room to form a queue without backing out the door. There were two people staffing the counter, and while you could interpret their brusque manner as charming, you could also take it another way. We did get our stuff fast, and the selection of muffins, giant cookies, scones, danish, and bear claws that packed the bakery case was pretty impressive. (We wanted to get a picture but the glare and the crowd were in the way.)
After a few bites of his chocolate croissant, JM found himself wishing it was more croissant and less chocolate. Nichole can't necessarily agree based on her bites, but it's true that neither of us were blown away by the medium-flaky pastry. The cinnamon morning bun was of substantial size, but wasn't even as good as the croissant. Nichole tasted more cleaning solvent flavor in this item and is wondering if it's just her tastebuds lately, or what - corroborating evidence in other online mentions of La Brioche points to the latter. Topping off JM's meal was a somewhat tepid carton of Kemp's chocolate milk, recalling for him many a high school lunch.
The only savory breakfast items to be found this morning were the mushroom and bacon quiches, so Nichole opted for the mushroom. The rushed staff didn't heat it up much, so she had a rather lukewarm breakfast. The filling of eggs and mushrooms with a thin layer of cheese crossed over from "moist" and approached "soggy," but the flavor was OK; the crust, on the other hand, was quite good, lightly browned and with a good flaky texture. As for the serve-yourself coffee? Just meh.
Later that day, Nichole polished off their take from La Brioche. The brioche itself went fine with a bowl of homemade soup for lunch. While the eggy golden bun didn't necessarily distinguish itself, it was a fine vehicle for butter. Likewise the tiny (1.5 inch diameter - think golf ball) key lime tart's eye appeal didn't carry through for its flavor or texture. The butter-cookie-like crust and the thin layer of vaguely citrus-toned curd were unimpressive, and the wee dollop of whipped cream had that distinctive mouthfeel that is the hallmark of inexpensive oil-based toppings. She found she was far more fond of the bakery items while she was enjoying their blood-sugar-boosting rush, but after the crash their charm dissipated.
La Brioche's web site says their lunch is the best-kept secret in Madison, and we considered sampling that fare. But breakfast options are few in the L's, so we took our chances. It seems a shame that our odds were so bad.