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Nadia's

Update 11/27/11: Nadia's is closed.

In a word: State Street's funky upscale bistro.

The specs: #0410
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Culinary Adventures in Madison, Cap Times, Yelp, Nadia's Restaurant & Grapevine on Urbanspoon ; official web site.

JM ate the lamb chops.
Nichole ate the split pea soup and baked brie appetizer.
The bill was $44, or $22/person, plus tip.
JM gave Nadia's a B+; Nichole gave Nadia's an A- (see our grading rubric).

Latest Nadia's news and reviews

Sometimes we have less to say about really nice places because we're too busy enjoying the moment to take great notes. This is kind of one of those times. Nadia's is right there in the middle of State Street, right under (or, over) most Madisonians' noses, but is too often overlooked as a laid-back, shabby yet classy venue and a good spot for a date. Maybe not a first date, maybe more like an old marrieds' date, but it's romantic nonetheless. This was aided, no doubt, by the last rays of a winter sun reflected off of State.

Bread basketOur host/server was new and a little unpolished but she warmed up to us and made our meal very enjoyable. It all started with a great bread basket - warm, pillowy, moist crumb with a yeasty aroma in a nice toothy crust, with good olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (This was the only photo that turned out as the sunlight faded through the tall windows.)

For starters, the aromatic, cumin-spiked split pea soup had a silkiness that hinted at a secret ingredient - maybe pureed nuts? - that added richness. JM found the flavors in the salad to be a little shallow. The field greens were standard, the vinaigrette dressing good, but the candied nuts were a plus.

Having baked brie as an entree seemed decadent and yet frugal. In any case, it was delicious: the cheese itself was very light and runny; topped with chewy dates and slivered almonds, baked in a puff pastry, it was very rich.

JM's lamb was moderately tender but not as much as he'd've liked. The fresh rosemary was very overpowering as well although the spuds and vegetables were pretty good. JM's was just a step or two behind Nichole's experience, but on the whole it was above average.

Nadia's looks a little shabby but its heart is in the right place. It's not quite fine dining, but at least it seems more self-aware and rooted than, say, Fresco.

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We ate at Nadia's on Christmas Eve; what a nice treat!

We started following the chef (Abdul) who opened Nadia's after we became fans of Oceans Brassiere (his first Madison venture). After Oceans closed back in the late 90's, Nadia's became our anniversary night special. I was sad when Abdul left to open another resturant off of Fish Hatchery... there was definately a decline in the kitchen skill. Abdul had a very subtle hand when it came to seasoning, was GREAT with a sauce, and had an unerring sense of quality when it came to the "raw materials" of a meal that the replacement chef doesn't match. In fact, the only other meal I've had in Madison that could touch Abdul's cooking at either Oceans or Nadia's was our anniversary dinner at L'etoile (we migrated...sigh.)

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