Sliced Deli

In a word: Arby's Not Arby's.

The specs: #01052  
601 South Gammon Rd., 53719
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JM ate the French dip and a soda.
Nichole ate the Cuban with a soda.
We split some curly fries.
The bill was $15, or $7ish/person.
JM gave Sliced Deli a B+; Nichole gave Sliced Deli an A- (see our grading rubric).

Walking into Sliced is about six kinds of surreal.  First of all, it is in the old Arby's off of Gammon and it is still basically the same restaurant.  The big brass bell for good service is still there by the door, and on the hutch where once Arby's and Horsey Sauces were now lie sachets of various similar condiments.  The menu, too, is mostly the same kind of thing (sammiches), only with a lot more panache.

Sliced lunch tray

But the counter staff, instead of the usual dead eyes or oversharing, was truly friendly and helpful, excited even, for the opportunity to share the food with you.  And so we were.

Nichole got the Cuban sandwich, which was nicely salty with very moist ham.  She felt the sandwich was nicely balanced and a good value.  The same could be said for JM's French dip (at one point in his life, this was JM's go-to because he jus couldn't get enough) which was the special that night.  While it didn't excel, it was right in line with his expectations and, being the $5 special, it felt like he was stealing from someone.

You can even get curly fries, which we did.  These were standard, but the whole feel of the place is standard Arby's, just with some life and verve and none of the corporate crap.  If you need a quick sandwich or just the Arby's experience remixed with a local bent, give Sliced a try.  They do good things.

Sizzling Hut

In a word: Hut or not.

The specs: #01051  
404 N. Main St., DeForest, WI 53532
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook

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JM ate the General Tso's chicken with a soda.
Nichole ate the cashew shrimp.
We split an order of crab rangoon and got a free packet of almond cookies.
The bill was $14, or $7/person, plus tip.
JM gave Sizzling Hut a B; Nichole gave Sizzling Hut a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Tucked away in a forgotten strip mall just minutes from the DeForest Norske Nook is Sizzling Hut.  We got a fairly standard afternoon set of late lunchy eatables and have to report: it is just fine.

Crab Rangoon

Sizzling Hut is De Forest's Chinese restaurant in a box.  They seem to be going for more deals than the standard, with daily lunch specials that migrate from good value to 'are you paying us to eat here?' territory.  One of the key awesome things was the guy behind the counter, who served our food, might have cooked it, and was identified on our receipt as "boss." He was avuncular and genial, despite the respite of no diners in the mid afternoon that we interrupted. He was never too close or too far away.  The food arrived not too soon but not too late either; for openers, the crab rangoon were simple, hot and crabby.

General Tso's chicken

As for the entrees, JM's General Tso's was not really spicy (related aside: there seem to be too kinds of restaurants, those that warn that anything sharper than Minute Maid is spicy, while the others have spiciness scales where anything above a "1" is guaranteed to melt your face into a tiny puddle. Do we need an international Scoville-to-star rubric?) but tasty and filling.  There was just enough rice, but a vegetable or two more wouldn't have killed JM. Would it, JM? 

Cashew chicken

Nichole's cashew shrimp was very salty, but packed with vegetables. The fried rice had bits of egg in it, a plus. And on the way out, Boss gave Nichole two packets of almond cookies just because.

There's not much to add. We are so infrequently in DeForest that needing a Chinese place there is the least of our concerns (getting from Madison to the Nook for a weeknight dinner before it closes is a different story). But you can do a lot worse, and perhaps Sun Prairie denizens might find the down-homeiness of this place superior to their current East Asian options.

Silver Eagle Bar & Grill

In a word: A site for soar eyes.

The specs: #01050  
5805 Monona Dr., Monona 53716
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook

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JM ate the French dip with Silver Eagle fries and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the cheddar cheeseburger with crinkle fries and a diet Pepsi.
The bill was about $20, or $10/person, plus tip.
JM gave Silver Eagle a B+; Nichole gave Silver Eagle a C+ (see our grading rubric).

The Silver Eagle bills itself as Monona's birthday bar (Madison's is different) and this they honor by giving the celebrant a free meal.  Consequently, JM has eaten here often enough for work birthdays.  He has always found the sandwich selection decent and there's nothing that anyone has walked away from with negative words passing their lips.

Today, for a decidedly non-birthday lunch, Nichole ordered the cheddar cheeseburger special with fries.  The cheeseburger arrived on a toasted, buttered, soft bun which was decent.  She found it a little underwhelming that no vegetable toppings were offered or present upon arrival. It certainly was a fine burger in the bar burger tradition, if a little plain.

French dipBurger

JM's French dip was substantial but fell apart over the long haul. He ordered it with a side of chorizo dip which was easily the best part of the sandwich. It tasted like everyone's favorite taco dip with a little bit of sausage to up the ante.  The jus just was umami enough and, for some reason, the sandwich also came with mayo. Now, JM likes mayo, like like likes mayo, but not along side chorizo dip and jus. This was one of the pricier items on the menu and it wasn't quite as prime a prime rib as JM would've liked.  But it certainly wasn't bad.

The sides of sides of fries were too large.  The crinkle cut ones did not appeal, while the skin-on Silver Eagle house fries did, quite.  With so many dipping sauces on JM's plate, combinatorics made more fries disappear than we expected, but we both emerged full and ready to face the rest of the day.

Silver Eagle has plenty of TVs to watch the big game and a full bar (your birthday party can include a free shot if you want it). The other 364 days a year, compare it to your local and judge accordingly.

Silly Yak Bakery & Bread Barn

In a word: A glu-8 out of glu-10.

The specs: #01049  
7866 Mineral Point Rd., Madison 53717
Details at Yelp, official website, Facebook

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JM and Nichole ate the cinnamon apple bread and a couple M&M cookies.
The bill was like $10 or less.
JM gave Silly Yak Bakery & Bread Barn a B+; Nichole gave Silly Yak Bakery & Bread Barn an A- (see our grading rubric).

This specialty bakery vends at markets and through other retailers, but also runs its own pretty small space on Mineral Point Rd. It feels like a cross between a Williamson St. bread shop and the Hostess factory outlet.  There are bottles of soda and juice cold, and the gluten-free bakery section is walled off from the "The Bread Barn" side where englutenated bread stuffs roll off the line. We opted for the latter.

Apple cinnamon bread

We picked up some apple cinnamon bread that was tasty enough on its own but grew multiples once we used it to make French toast. Very, very nice.

There were also some M&M cookies that came back. They were still moist and tasty up to a week after we bought our three pack.

Nichole's a fan of their dark Bavarian rye for Braunschweiger sandwiches, too.

The Silly Yak side of the operation maintains many resources for gluten free eating on their website, and their products have a big fan base. A truly win-win.

Side Door Grill and Tap

Side Door dining roomIn a word: Doors of convection.

The specs: #01048  
240 W. Gilman St., Madison 53703
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

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JM ate the Korean BBQ chicken.
Jean ate the churrasco flatbread.
Nichole ate the veggie sandwich and grapefruit juice.
The bill was about$12/person, plus tip.
JM gave Side Door Grill and Tap a B+; Nichole gave Side Door Grill and Tap an A- (see our grading rubric).

JM rung out some endings with a quick stop (for the third time) at the cafe under Samba.  It is now called Side Door and it turns out to be about the most Madison thing ever.  Weary college students stumbled through, one wall is entirely covered with beer signs, the place makes fish fry and also Korean BBQ chicken. There's al fresco dining and the same interesting bathrooms. (You can read all about the building and its evolution in chapter 6 of our book.)

Nichole asked for grapefruit juice and our wonderful server brought out a veritable goblet filled with not one but two small cans' worth. Being a fan of Texsun, she was impressed. Her veggie sandwich was less impressive, but still nice and flavorful, and very Madisonny.

Sandwich

JM thoroughly enjoyed nomming on the special Koran BBQ chicken. It came out more as chicken strips, unbreaded and nicely prepared with a very flavorful sauce.  It might have been a little cold for his liking, but the kimchi (great leaves of faceslapping goodness) more than made up for it.  The lemonade was also close to JM's ideal. Nicely sweet & tart without being watery.

Korean BBQ chicken

We were joined by Jean who had the churrasco flatbread, which came out on a hearty wheat (and certainly puffy) crust. That said, the meal didn't quite come together as well as she'd hoped and some of the ingredients were not quite as fresh as others. Still the menu is deep and rich, and there other things that each of us would have been willing to try on a future visit.

Churrasco flatbread

Toward the end of the meal, a Madison moment happened. A student patron entered the dining room, and sticking out of said student's backpack was a rolled up paper from an oversized Post-It pad, such as the ones corporate denizens might use for brainstorming. The only readable word: "solidarity." Never stop being Madison, Side Door. Never stop.

Short Stack Eatery

In a word: Farm to griddle.

The specs: #01047  
301 W. Johnson St., 53703
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JM ate the biscuits and gravy with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the short stack of SPO minus marscapone plus two eggs scrambled and a grapefruit juice.
The bill was $27, or $13.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Short Stack Eatery an A-; Nichole gave Short Stack Eatery an A (see our grading rubric).

Nichole loves Short Stack so much she can't even find the good words. It's a sweetly earnest place with a compact and tasty menu, and a sense of fun.

Tip jar poll

Pancakes naturally shine here but so do other dishes. The cheese grits with pork are scrumptious, as is the decadent breakfast sandwich, and various meat/cheese/veg options make for multifarious scrambles. Trios are a lighter option (on the tummy and the wallet) that let you choose greens, eggs, bread, and/or a breakfast meat; Nichole's favorite trio is greens, scrambled eggs, and their rosemary bread toasted with Porchlight's rhubarb preserves on the side.

But on this visit Nichole got a short stack of the hearty sweet potato oatmeal pancakes (like carrot cake in a flapjack) and a mountain of scrambled eggs. JM got the biscuits and gravy, which were delightfully spicy with just a touch of nuttiness in the biscuit. The eggs were a perfect complement. The crossover between "southern" and "Cajun" was never more merited.

Breakfast/lunch

Highly recommended!

Señor Peppers

In a word: Rations: Filling.

The specs: #01046  
108 Janesville St., Oregon 53575
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

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Anne ate the crab and shrimp chimichanga.
JM ate the steak burrito with a lemonade.
John ate the Sinaloa (shrimp) enchiladas with an horchata.
Nichole ate the mole-smothered chicken.
We tried the flan.
The bill was $29, or $15ish/person, plus tip.
Anne and John gave Señor Peppers a B; JM and Nichole gave Señor Peppers a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Nestled right in the square of downtown Oregon is a better than expected Mexican place. Señor Peppers is not the Madison area's best Mexican by any stretch of the imagination, but other than Palenque in McFarland, Dane County south of the beltline (once past Madison and Fitchburg) fails the south of the border test in most cases. Sr. Peppers meets the challenge and, when we're in town, makes for one of the better meals we've had.

The place could only be described as hopping on this mid-spring evening. Tables turned quickly but were rarely empty even on the front stoop where diners were enjoying one of the first nice days of the season. 

John and Anne were eager try the place out; we all noted the variety of chicken and beef options on the menu, which featured a paucity of pork.

Crab and shrimp chimichanga

John got his traditional horchata which was standard, if maybe a little thin. They both opted for seafood as well and the experience was a mixed bag. Anne found that her crab and shrimp chimichanga was a little too large to finish, while John's Sinaloa enchiladas were good but maybe not the best combination to sample here.

Sinaloa enchiladas

Nichole had about half of her mole-smothered chicken because she was saving room for flan.  It reheated nicely and was a nice take on the mole experience. 

Mole-smothered chicken

JM had a steak burrito, which is a good standard metric.  This one was one of the better ones he'd had but he wished the saucing were a touch more generous.

Steak burrito

If you want chips and salsa and Park St. is too far away, Mister Peppers awaits. And wouldn't you like to eat at Peppers, too?

Flan

Sconnie Bar

In a word: "Everybody's Somebody's Bar" - Sconnie Francis.

The specs: #01045  
1421 Regent St., 53719
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JM ate the Sconnie Burger with fries and a lemonade.
Karen ate the grilled cheese with waffle fries and a beer.
Nichole ate the grilled cheese with tomato bisque.
The bill was $32, or $11ish/person, plus tip.
JM gave Sconnie Bar a B-; Karen gave Sconnie Bar a B; Nichole gave Sconnie Bar a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Sconnie bar took over the space where Lucky's on Regent was when it moved down to 1313. In other words, this is another campus sports bar with campus sports bar quantities of TVs and beer specials. It is not, per se, known for its food.  This is not to say that Sconnie Bar doesn't have some good food ideas, but their heart is in keeping people entertained during televised sports ball events and Badger football game days.

Burger

JM tried a specialty of the house, the Sconnie burger. This is a bacon cheeseburger with an additional split brat.  The brat was quite good, the cheeseburger was not. It ended up just being a lot of food without really having much raison d'etre. JM also got fries which were quite nice and potatoey. Very thick planks of potatoes fried to a nice yellow-brown, and paired well with ketchup.

Grilled cheese

The librarians both got that night's special: the $1 grilled cheese. Nichole paired hers with a rich tomato bisque. Karen added waffle fries with a side of jalapeño ranch that was the true highlight of the meal. Thick and bold, the sauce was put together by someone who cares. The grilled cheese themselves were standard, if a little on the light side. But for a dollar, what did we expect? One could have eaten them by the basketful.

Waffle fries

If being Sconnie means needing access to quality beer over quality food, well, this place has earned its name. That said, many other places nearby are better able to thread the needle (thinking here of Jordan's Big 10, but there are others) between supper, sports, and suds. And we're sure on Badger game day it could never be as bad as Grid Iron was.

Bonus, apropos of the name "Sconnie" - did you know the big heads at Library of Congress has given thought to whether the term "cheeseheads" is pejorative? They sure have. They think of everything!

Schwoegler's Entertainment Center

In a word: Mark it a 4, dude.

The specs: #01044 
444 Grand Canyon Dr., 53719
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook

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JM and Nichole ate the sausage and mushroom pizza with a lemonade and a soda.
The bill was $14, or $7/person, after coupon, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave a Schwoegler's Entertainment Center a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Fate had conspired to keep JM from Schwoegler's once. JM was going to go in and bowl, but upon putting his car in park and rolling up the window, the window promptly shattered. He would not have been able to go bowling with that going on.

On this bright spring day, windows intact, it was hard to imagine that many people would want to be inside a dark, cool bowling alley, but there were many there when we headed into the bar. The bar itself is not much to speak of: the atmosphere is laid back and a server removed Christmas lights while regulars made regular-type comments.  We sat near the window to get as much natural light as we could.

We opted to pull the trigger on 16" two topping pizza in order to align with a most important factor: the Bucky Book coupon we remembered to bring this time. The pizza arrived in due time, and was indeed much larger than we could consume (as expected).  For those of you that think that squares are the only way to eat a pizza, Schwoegler's is your jam. Probably because they serve to those who are also bowling, and a full wedge of pizza seems like the wrong size. Our notes include that the crust, long the most important feature of a pizza, was merely meh. It fell somewhere on the hand-tossed continuum that only works with really fresh toppings.

Pizza

The only topping that struck us as fresh, though, were the mushrooms.  The sausage was standard, but we can make an argument that in Wisconsin, OK sausage is actually way below average. The sauce was strangely sweet, though this turned out just fine.  The rest of the menu is pretty bar standard: burgers, things from the fryer.

One point to make, though: Schwoegler's has a full bar and lots of sports-tune TV sets.  It may be useful to remember this when you and your friends want to pile into a bar to watch a Packer game and all the usual hangouts are SRO. (We did something similar at Vitense a few seasons back and had a lovely time.) Also: Packer games seem like ideal times to bowl.  So bring everybody for a truly entertaining Sunday afternoon.

Schubert's

ShakeIn a word: Diner from another time.

The specs: #01043  
128 E., Main St., Mount Horeb 53572
Details at Yelp, official web site

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JM ate the haystack hashbrowns and a chocolate shake.
Keith ate the biscuits and gravy.
Nichole ate the corned beef and cabbage, and raisin toast.
The bill was about $40, including some scones and rosettes, plus tip.
We all gave Schubert's an A- (see our grading rubric).

Schubert's is a Mount Horeb institution. Seriously, the signs all say they've been at the same place for 106 years. (If we had realized that this place was here, it likely would have merited a mention in our book. D'oh.) Still, it stands here as a testament to days gone by. Indeed, the restaurant that it is probably the closest to in history is Rennebohm's. This is a lunch counter with a full service soda fountain. Mix in some ethnic Nordic bakery and you've got Schubert's.

Schubert's

We stopped at just the right time to enjoy either breakfast or lunch, both of which were done pretty well. Keith, not JM, got the biscuits and gravy this thyme (of which there was a hint). Keith's dish came with a good gravy, rich and buttery yet fatty with good sausage bits.

Biscuits and gravy

JM instead got the Haystack Hashbrowns which were topped with scrambled eggs. Everything on his plate was tasty and well prepared, including the onions and peppers in the spuds. It was a little awkward to eat though. (Eggs on hashbrowns? Next to is fine.)

Breakfast

Nichole opted for lunch, and a lunch special at that. She got the seasonally appropriate corned beef and cabbage. This was a classic preparation including some nice red potatoes.

Corned beef and cabbage

And raisin toast!

Raisin toast

We all felt Schubert's was a sweet place with a nice vibe. It seems to be transitioning ownership (as a 106 year old place does every now and then) and everyone seems pretty excited about the new expansion of the Duluth Trading Company offices into the area.

On a parting note - the bakery case is a little empty, though there were piles of Rosettes. We got a half dozen, and a scone, and they were delicious. We recommend that you take a trip out there for breakfast or lunch. Or to relive the old school version of the lunch counter. Or to get a rosette. Or whatever.

Rosette

NEWS

Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. More about it here. Read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook, or read an excerpt on Carson Gulley and some bonus bits on Porchlight, Argus, Sunshine Supper, and Babcock.


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