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Espresso Royale Caffe

In a word: A place to get coffee in Madison.

The specs: #0159
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Dane101, Yelp, Isthmus, the Culinary Adventures of Jahboh and Tossy; official web site; Espresso Royale on Urbanspoon

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Andrew and John ate the roast beef and cheese sandwich.
JM ate the ham and cheese sandwich and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the turkey avocado sandwich with a house coffee.
Rose ate a maple pecan scone.
Samantha ate the veggie cream cheese sandwich with a latte.
Sue ate the tuna and avocado sandwich with a ginger tea.
The bill was about $35, or $5/person.
Nichole and Samantha gave Espresso Royale a B+; JM and Andrew gave it a B; John and Sue gave it a B-; Rose gave it a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Espresso Royale

A small chain in college towns, Espresso Royale tends to hit the nail on the head a little too hard. It did have some of the friendliest staff we've had the pleasure to meet (and we ain't their only fans). They handled our large group really well and even treated the table to some free chips. The two baristas were so busy keeping up with orders, however, that they'd not been able to wipe down any tables in a while - the crumbs were a bit gross.

While we waited, we sorted the cards in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire? game by prize value - actually playing the game was less fun, since we only ever got to $125,000 even pooling our skillz.

The sandwiches, while serviceable, weren't super special. Almost all of us liked the sound of toasted bagel sandwiches, but in reality they were only toasty around the edges and still chilly in the middle. The tomatoes looked kind of sad (it was March, after all). Check out the ethereal glow on this sandwich, though:

Espresso Royale

Re: the beverages: Sue appreciated the style in which the tea was steeped, loose leaves placed in a large teabag that infused enough flavor even into a big mug. The coffee was par for the course, though the pint glasses tended to let it cool too fast. Also notable were the RC, Rite and Dr Pepper soft drinks.  With all the coffee shops on State Street (at least 15), this one has less local charm. Maybe it does in Athens, Ann Arbor, Urbana or Purdue.

Andrew summed it up when he opined, "It's what I would expect from a coffee shop."

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