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Sow's Ear

Sow's EarIn a word: In the oyster bed of Madison-area coffee shops, here's a purl.

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 Pressofficial web site, The Sow's Ear on Urbanspoon

Latest Sow's Ear news and reviews

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).

Bakery and beveragesGoing 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!].

Cheese plate

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.

Comments

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I'm in love with the Sow's Ear! And the people who work in the yarn section are really great.

I've always thought the Sow's Ear was pretty awesome. Now that Lakeside Fibers has slashed its inventory, the Sow's Ear has no real competition among yarn stores in the Madison area. (IMHO)

Just a correction - the coffee is from Ancora. I'm glad you liked this favorite of mine.

I went here for the first time about a month ago. I was a big fan as well. Half the fun is looking at all the projects people are working on. I also like the "hidden" tables back where the yarn shelves are. I will be going back! :)

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