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Kollege Klub

In a word: A meal by Ingmar Bergman.

The specs: #0301
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews and stories at Ultimate Madison Bar Tour, by Doug Moe, by Gwen Evans and Lee Lowenthal for WiSJ; chatter at madison.com forum; Meet the Bartender at Badger Herald; Kollege Klub on Urbanspoon

Latest Kollege Klub news and reviews

JM ate the Klub Burger (with bacon, lettuce and tomato) and a lemonade.
Nichole ate the Southwest chicken soup with a Diet Pepsi (yeah, we know).
We split the chicken nachos.
The bill was $15, or $7.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Kollege Klub a C+; Nichole gave Kollege Klub a D+ (see our grading rubric).

So, Kollege Klub has a storied past as a beloved undergrad hangout. Based on this meal, sadly, we can't say the food has had much to do with the KK's fame.

GraffitiInside it's pretty much a college bar that skews young. We sat in one of the rickety, painted wooden booths on what seemed to be the eating side and perused the graffiti and the menu with equal interest. We kept our coats (and hats, and scarves and gloves) on because the front door stood wide open and the ceiling fans, inexplicably, ran at full tilt. It was free pool night, so we considered a game, but Nichole wasn't in the mood to get stomped by JM.

Chicken nachosThere's no table service at the KK, so we went to the bar to place our order with one of the friendliest (and youngest) bartenders we've yet to meet. We opted for an appetizer, which he brought out fast. The chicken nachos were an object lesson in why chicken shouldn't be microwaved. (If it wasn't microwaved, it sure seemed it, all rubbery and bland.) The chips & cheddar cheese were best while they were hot, but given that the dining room was 40 degrees at best, the heat was short-lived. (Nichole did find a good, non-nacho use for the cute sour cream packet, however.)

During our nacho fun time, the jukebox, which had been playing the Temptations, suddenly quit, leaving street noises that sounded like a bad sound effects CD. Rain. Car horn. Frying bacon. Something about the whole dimly-lit scene felt desperate and vaguely Jarmusch-y.  At the bar, two women approximately of legal age talked to the bartender. The Marquette/Duke game played silently on the TV - otherwise, we were alone.

KK BurgerOur meditations on the bleakness of urban life were interrupted by the arrival of hope in the form of dinner - this did not last long. JM's burger turned out to be a hollow promise: a big so-what that he finished, but couldn't relish. Again, the fries and burger were fine when they were hot but cooled down quickly. Of the lemonade, he just said, "Mmm, greywater!"

Southwest chicken vegetable soupNichole was thinking of the long-lost days of Echo Tap and excellent bar soups when she placed her bets on the Southwest chicken stuff. This dish also appeared nuked, with little crinkles around the edges. One spoonful coated her mouth so that she thought it must be Velveeta dressed up with corn and peppers, but JM guessed it was something closer to Campbell's cheese soup base. Either way it was no fun.

After dinnerThis is what was left after dinner. We felt a little guilty leaving this much, but not as guilty as we would have had we eaten it all. As Nichole's mom is fond of saying, with some food, whether it goes through you or not, it's still waste. Sadly that's kind of how the whole night felt. Sure, we can see the appeal of a bar crowded with friends and a greasy burger to chase down a pitcher (or vice versa), but as a place for just dinner when you are cold and alone the KK doesn't have much to recommend it unless you're really into nihilism.


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hilarious and acute. best blog you've written about madison food yet!

The review for Brothers is even better. In general, bar food is a no-no. Taco Bell/KFC is right down the street from any of these campus bars.

Although Luckys and Church Key are not that bad.

Bar food is a no-no? Whatever.

Jezzus, this place is disgusting! And what's up with the KKK reference in their name?

I know! And what's up with all the KKK references in baseball? Ben Sheets had 106 strike outs last season. That's like 35 KKKs (and some change). Stop the insensitivity MLB!

Got a kick out the review though. They were never on my list of place to try (racist bastards, plus it's bar food), and now I know that's not a mistake.

By bar food, I meant food served at establishments that should be strictly considered bars, and not restaurants who happen to have bars. The Nitty Gritty, Dottys, Hawk's Pub and Brats are all examples of the latter. KK, Brothers, Madison Avenue, Johnny Os, Jordan's Big Ten, The Stadium Bar, etc. are examples of the latter.

And I was not referring to the cuisine commonly labeled 'bar food', such as wings and nachos, because those are delicious.

And before Jason gets on me again, the last set of restaurants should apply to my former comment, meaning strictly bars.

Not trying to give you a hard time, but I know many trained, talented chefs who have taken brief (and not so brief) stints at bars that range from supper clubish to straight dive bar. Can't let preconceived notions keep you from good eats.

Just not at the KKKlub

Poor College Student -- Brats should be lumped in with the "Don't Eat Here" crowd. I've had nothing but sub-par experiences with their food.

Hawk's could stand to lower the prices on just about everything on their menu by about $3, too.

What a couple of knobs JM and Nicole must be. They should only be allowed to rate trendy Turkish, Ceylonese or Costa Rican reaturants. I'm sure they would "simply adore" the food and service aty any of those bistros.


Take that, snobs who don't like microwaved chicken.

What a couple of immature amateurs the two so-called raters are. There are 10,000 unemployed comedians out here, we don't need 2 more. Soup and a Diet Pepsi... yeh, I would order that if I was rating a restaurant... for sure. Did she give the Diet Pepsi a D+?

Instead of being mad at the reviewers, maybe the KKlub should clean its bathrooms and serve some edible food.

Are we really supposed to believe that KK Grad and MadMan are two different people?

Do you "two" contend that the pictures above come from some other establishment, and not from Kollege Klub? Because unless that's the case, I'm not sure how anyone could expect a grade better than C+ based on just the way that food looks.

And I recall reading....where was it?....oh yeah, RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THIS REVIEW, that they really liked their bartender and service.

Good eye, Kyle. KK Grad and MadMan share an IP. Roommates, maybe? ;)

Why even drudge up this review? As long as there are frats, sororities, coasties, and athletes on campus, the KK can continue to serve terrible food and still make money.

Regardless, I’m a bigger fan of the real KK (Karaoke Kid)

Ummm where did you get the idea that anyone actually took what you were writing seriously?? Your restaurant "reviews" are the funniest shit I've ever read. And it is really shit. I actually WANT to eat at the KKK after reading your review. It seems that you have discovered a rift in the laws of physics. Food cools down much more quickly at the KKK.. that's f-ing amazing.

You know - I for one - really enjoy JM and Nicoles travels through Madison Restaurants. Kudos to both of them for going to all the restaurants - even the bad ones - and telling us about them. I for one wouldn't have spotted some of the lesser known but tasty restaurants if it weren't for them. Also really value the comments made by the other readers - the decent and informed comments that is.
As for the Kollege Klub - that's a pass.

Dropped in KK for a bacon cheese burger and a Wisconsin Amber. Both hit the spot! Enough said?

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