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Hawk's Bar

In a word: This joint is disjointed.

The specs: #0233
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Ultimate Madison Bar Tour, Yelp, Christopher Robin's, Taylor Takes a Taste, QSC, Madison Fish Fry; official web site; Hawk's on Urbanspoon

Latest Hawk's Bar news and reviews

JM ate the Hawk's classic burger with cheese and bacon and seasoned fries, with a lemonade.
John ate the Hawk's classic burger with cheese and bacon, a cup of honey onion soup, and a root beer.
Kyle ate the mushroom swiss burger (medium well) with seasoned fries and a Sprecher Black Bavarian.
Nichole ate the chili with a Sprecher Black Bavarian.
The bill was about $35, or $8.75/person, plus tip (thanks, Stef!).
JM and Nichole gave Hawk's a B-; Kyle gave Hawk's a C+; John gave Hawk's a C (see our grading rubric).

Dining at Hawk's is interesting.  It's on State St., so it has all of the urban panache, but it seems to have been constructed out of two separate store fronts. The restaurant feels divided: on one side is the food ordering counter; on the other, the bar.  You cannot order all of the things that you might want at one location, which just gets a little weird.  Throw in the different lighting in the two zones and the loud music and you have a strange sort of experience.

We all noticed that the menu was rather small and surprisingly heavy on the salads, which we considered "not really bar food." Kyle opined that there weren't many options, and those that were offered, seemed unspectacular at best.

The fellow who took our order at the grill was very patient with us as we ran back to  our table to figure out burger toppings and the like. The food came up pretty quickly, and made just to order.

Hawk's Bar food

John's starter of honey onion soup was good. Nichole's chili was your average ground beef with red kidney beans. It was spicy enough, but not very distinctive. The cheese had a sharp cheddar edge to it, which was nice.

Three of us got burgers, which were surprisingly small. The buns turned out to be too wimpy, sogging out after a couple bites (or, in JM's case, en route to the table). Kyle said of the Swiss cheese that it was a little bit too processed. The fries were tasty, but so are Arby's sometimes.

JM enjoyed the cold lemonade but it was gone too quickly, as was his food. Likewise,  Kyle and Nichole agreed the Sprecher beer was the highlight of the meal.

Though there were some desserts to choose from, including reliable Wisconsin Cheesecakery offerings, getting cones from Chocolate Shoppe across the street sounded much more appealing, so that's what we did. John summed up our Hawk's experience by saying he can't really imagine coming back, not when there are better similar restaurants nearby.

Comments

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It seems you guys are being a little hard on Hawk's. I, for one, enjoy the fact that their menu isn't unhealthy bar food and offers a nice selection of fresh salads.

If you're going to review a restaurant's menu, I'd suggest diversifying your order instead of just ordering burgers!

I enjoy reading your reviews, but in my opinion, you really missed the mark with this one. Hawk's deserves better!

Tell me why anyone should go to a bar to buy a salad.

We all agreed that it would have been more representative had we ordered more variety. However, I think it speaks to the weakness of the menu at Hawk's. Stop the presses! They have a sirloin sandwich!

It's not BAD, it's just totally unimpressive. Don't get hung up on the low grades. The grading scale here (I think) is designed to really reward the great places, not string you along on the mediocre ones.

That's how it was when it was Cafeli's too, except Cafeli's was much much better. One redeeming thing that Hawk's offers (in my opinion) is the baked brie. Served with apples, french bread and a delicous butter. I get it everytime.

Hawk's menu is pretty limited, but I recommend the tomato basil veggie sandwich (I think it is called). It is an open face sandwich topped with plenty of veggies and cheese.

Otherwise, there are better places to eat and better places to drink. As a combination, if your group of friends can't decide if they want to eat or drink, Hawk's is all right.

The salad I just had (actually only ate like 4 bites) at Hawks was inedible. The apple pieces had core and seeds in them. The flavor was awful, the ingredients did not go together at all. The tomatos weren't ripe. All in all just about the worst salad i've ever paid money for in my life.

And yes, the whole place is disjointed, loud, unpleasant. I couldn't even connect to their free wifi. Just about the worst lunch experience of my life. Actually was rear-ended on the way there. Should have take it as a sign to change plans.

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