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Ale Asylum

In a word: Great sandwiches and beer?  Yep.

The specs: #0213
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, Madison Date Night, WiSJ, Cap Times, Beer Advocate, Badger Herald, Dane101 (5/24/06 and 3/31/07) and Yelp; official web site; Ale Asylum on Urbanspoon

Latest Ale Asylum news and reviews

JM ate the smoked ham and cheddar on wheat bread with chipotle mayo, lettuce, and tomato with BBQ chips and a pickle, and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the roast beef and muenster on wheat with spinach, roasted red peppers, and red onion with fruit salad and a pickle, and a Diablo.
The bill was $20, or $10/person, plus tip.
JM gave Ale Asylum a B+; Nichole gave Ale Asylum an A (see our grading rubric).

Ale Asylum sign

Ale Asylum has probably gotten more buzz than most new places. Well-deserved, too, since the brewmasters from Angelic have started out in a strong way at this new place. It is a touch hard to find, and not really someplace you'd think of to look for a restaurant.  This should not deter you.

The food: Ale Asylum just has sandwiches. But what sandwiches! We loved the streamlined ordering process:

  1. grab an orange slip off the bar.
  2. tick off your sandwich choices: one of 6 locally baked breads, 5 Boar's Head meats, 6 Carr Valley cheeses, lettuce or spinach (bonus!), 5 kinds of veggies, and 6 kinds of condiments.
  3. pick a chip or fruit salad (go for the fruit - it's got fresh pineapple).
  4. get the pickle.
  5. pay & take a seat.

Within a couple minutes our stacked sandwiches arrived. They were excellent. Even JM, who is not always in the mood for a sandwich, had to agree. He especially liked having the option of BBQ chips, but was sad that Ale Asylum didn't have root beer. Maybe someday?

Ale Asylum sandwiches

Speaking of beer, their Diablo Belgian Dubbel was super - bubbly & zingy, it was a fine first taste of a doppel-style beer for Nichole (even if it was an uncharacteristically girly choice for her). If the rest of their brewery offerings stack up this way, that's great news for beer aficionados.

Ale Asylum gets bonus points for having a great interior and free wifi. It would be a fine place for after-work drinks or to meet friends if you want to share a tasty beverage brewed to the exacting standards of a Wisconsin beer lover's palate.

Ale Asylum dining room/pool area


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I wonder if they got that ordering idea from the defunct Radical Rye. I've been meaning to check this place out and now I have even more incentive. Thanks!

Hm, I wouldn't say that drinking a belgian doppel is girly, Nichole... they may be a bit on the sweeter side, but I always think about it as a rich, complex kind of sweet with a dark side to it. The Wheat Beer Person's chocolate stout, if you will. I mean, it's not as if it were berry flavored or came with an umbrella in it, or is advertised on merit of its low caloric value.

Were you at the Asylum early in the eveing? I would caution readers not to go too late. It gets crowded and noisy and drafty. The beer is still delicious, but the pub-feel turns into a bar-feel after about 7 or 8 on Fridays, and the set-up doesn't work so well for "bar of heavy drinking"... the small space in front of the bar gets so crowded with silly people that it is very difficult to order said delicious beer.

Well said, Regina - upon reflection, "girly" was not the best word. Man, that was good beer.

We were there at our habitually, absurdly early dinner time (about 5pm) and the place was quiet, but not dead - just right.

Tuesday night, 8pm was just lively enough to not feel like we were there on private invitation. The sandwiches were good and satisfying, and the beer was awesome (the English porter is no longer called the "Contorter Porter" as it is on their website, and the Ambergeddon is citrusy and fresh).

They also have pizzas now, too. Nice ones, for $9 a pop.

This is a good place. It feels like it should get a segment on a food and travel show.

Please review this place again when they move to the new location off Packers Ave near the Airport.

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