The specs: #0604
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Insider Pages, Susan B. Anderson, A Piper Knits, Caffeine Girl, Will Knit for Food, Baking Magic for Kids; 10th Anniversary notice in Verona Press; official web site,
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JM and Nichole ate the Full Sow 3-cheese plate with a free-from-loyalty-points cappuccino, a chocolate croissant, and two Boylan's sodas.
The bill was $15, or $7.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Sow's Ear an A (see our grading rubric).
Going to Sow's Ear in Verona together could have been a disaster. Not only did we bike it (we rarely bike together), it's a coffee shop-slash-yarn-store. Let's be honest, that's pretty specialized and not necessarily to JM's tastes. To Nichole's tastes, sure - almost three times over, and in fact JM dug through the loyalty cards (conscientiously stored on the counter instead of in customers' wallets [edit: policy is changing July 2011 - come pick up your cards]) and found Nichole's from a former life, languishing with enough points on it for a free beverage.
The menu is sandwiches, bakery from Madison Sourdough and Market Street/Carl's, and snacks. We picked a cheese plate built for two. JM rehydrated with an orange Boylan's while Nichole looked at the yarn. She came back to see the coffee and bakery had arrived. The cappuccino had good froth and a rich flavor. The house blend, Black Purl, is from Alterra Ancora [corrected - thanks, Amy!].
This cheese plate was very close to our personal ideal. The baguette slices were warmed from toasting, but not to the point of being pointy. The cheeses were all good. The Eiffel Tower brie was disappointingly cold, but delicious with an earthy, fungusy rind. The soft center was creamy with a bitter aftertaste - it's one of the few bitter foods that JM enjoys. The Edelweiss gouda was smooth with an edge, a sharpness that built with each bite. Hook's garlic dill jack is definitely for people who like bits in their cheese, but was really subtle and well-done: the garlic was more an aroma than a flavor and left no aftertaste. Mixed greens (possibly bagged but fresh and dry in a lemon basil dressing) and cool kiwi cleansed between cheese bites. All in all, this plate compared favorably to, say, Bonfyre's at 2/3 the price and 1/3 the swagger.
Bottom line: We weren't expecting to both have a good time, yet we both did. We can't ask for a bigger A to Z success than that.