Craftsman Table & Tap
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Clint ate the Craftsman burger.
JM ate the mac and cheese special.
Nichole and Tiffany ate the pear and walnut salad.
We split some cheese curds and crispy little fishies.
The bill was $15ish/person, plus tip.
We all thought Craftsman Table and Tap was in the solid B range (see our grading rubric).
There's a sense in which Craftsman Table and Tap is very familiar. The offerings are standard, if a little above average, pub fare of the Wisconsin variety. The decor is similar to what's been tried at that doomed Fitchburg locale four times. There's some cute serving dishes that jacs or Brasserie V or VBC might also have. It's a Food Fight place, which is not a judgment but rather provides some background. It is located in the tony Middleton area that has proffered Prairie Cafe and Palmyra.
The cheese curds came recommended by our guests. They were golden with white cheese and were indeed delicious, but hardly moreso than the ones we'd eaten at the previous place. The cheese is Carr Valley, though and that's a strong entry in the plus column. The Cripsy Little Fishies had too cute a name not be partaken of and were indeed quite good. A fish fry app seems like a really good idea, but maybe the association with fishsticks keeps some good folks away. Here they're smelt, shrimp, and chunky white fish.
The ladies got the pear and walnut salads, which were robust, with many different kinds of leafy greens. The pears were perfect while the walnuts provided a good salty/sweet balance. Topped withe bleu cheese, the overall flavors mixed well.
Clint got the Craftsman burger, which he'd had before. A Wisconsin classic, this bacon cheeseburger definitely holds its own, and the aioli is a nice touch. The fries seemed a little overdone, but not actually bad. A nice serving.
JM came to the meal having eaten too much earlier in the day. Add to that apps and he knew he was looking for something that would keep well. The mac and cheese is served in a cooking vessel and is quite good with bread crumbs and meat scattered throughout. The problem lay in the cheese. JM likes his M&C creamy, and this concoction was a little too tacky for his taste buds. The flavor was fine, but the creaminess was just plain absent.
Craftsman likes their beers to the tune of having a beer blog on their website. That seems a good fit for the west side, since most of the beer places in town find their niche out east. As a Food Fight VBC carbon copy, though, their Middleton location always seems full. They must be doing something right.