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La Brioche

Update: La Brioche has moved. About the new location at del.icio.us:

In a word: Stuck.

The specs: #0314
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; nice photo by karlfrankowski; reviews at Cap Times, He Said She Said; official web site; La Brioche on Urbanspoon

JM ate the morning bun and a chocolate croissant with chocolate milk.
Nichole ate the mushroom quiche with a coffee (and some bites of JM's breakfast).
We got a brioche and a key lime mini-tart to take home.
The bill was $11, or $5.50/person. plus tip.
JM gave La Brioche a B+; Nichole gave La Brioche a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Latest La Brioche news and reviews

La Brioche Bakery signLa Brioche may not be long for this world, what with the Midvale Plaza Shopping Center renovation and all (we were unable to turn up any online gossip about what they plan to do - just feedback from the neighborhood that they'll be missed). So, we're glad we made it - we're just not sure we'll grow particularly attached at this point.

On a grey Saturday morning, the place was hopping; there's not much room to form a queue without backing out the door. There were two people staffing the counter, and while you could interpret their brusque manner as charming, you could also take it another way. We did get our stuff fast, and the selection of muffins, giant cookies, scones, danish, and bear claws that packed the bakery case was pretty impressive. (We wanted to get a picture but the glare and the crowd were in the way.)

Morning pastriesAfter a few bites of his chocolate croissant, JM found himself wishing it was more croissant and less chocolate. Nichole can't necessarily agree based on her bites, but it's true that neither of us were blown away by the medium-flaky pastry. The cinnamon morning bun was of substantial size, but wasn't even as good as the croissant. Nichole tasted more cleaning solvent flavor in this item and is wondering if it's just her tastebuds lately, or what - corroborating evidence in other online mentions of La Brioche points to the latter. Topping off JM's meal was a somewhat tepid carton of Kemp's chocolate milk, recalling for him many a high school lunch.

Mushroom quicheThe only savory breakfast items to be found this morning were the mushroom and bacon quiches, so Nichole opted for the mushroom. The rushed staff didn't heat it up much, so she had a rather lukewarm breakfast. The filling of eggs and mushrooms with a thin layer of cheese crossed over from "moist" and approached "soggy," but the flavor was OK; the crust, on the other hand, was quite good, lightly browned and with a good flaky texture. As for the serve-yourself coffee? Just meh.

Later that day, Nichole polished off their take from La Brioche. The brioche itself went fine with a bowl of homemade soup for lunch. While the eggy golden bun didn't necessarily distinguish itself, it was a fine vehicle for butter. Likewise the tiny (1.5 inch diameter - think golf ball) key lime tart's eye appeal didn't carry through for its flavor or texture. The butter-cookie-like crust and the thin layer of vaguely citrus-toned curd were unimpressive, and the wee dollop of whipped cream had that distinctive mouthfeel that is the hallmark of inexpensive oil-based toppings. She found she was far more fond of the bakery items while she was enjoying their blood-sugar-boosting rush, but after the crash their charm dissipated.

La Brioche's web site says their lunch is the best-kept secret in Madison, and we considered sampling that fare. But breakfast options are few in the L's, so we took our chances.  It seems a shame that our odds were so bad.


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You gots to try the chocolate macaroon. I know Nichole tends to find coconut too sweet ("cloying" is the Siamese twin word to "coconut" round these parts, it seems), but even non-coconut people like my SO love it.

If you can't get to La Brioche in time, Metcalfe Sentry sells 'em.

La B also provided my stollen for the holiday Fringe Foods, and I quite liked it. It was the only loaf I finished.

Damn, you're right! Unless Kelly's and Coldstone both oversweeten their coconut offerings, my tongue must be wired to read them the same. I dunno, I like the fish moly sauce and other delights from Indian cuisine just fine...

I have had a similar experience at Brioche myself... our family prefers Manna Cafe for all of the items that you had, great quiche and the sticky/cinnamon/sugar rolls are fantastic. A little off the beaten path for some (it is on Sherman Avenue in Maple Bluff) but well worth the trip.

They're getting ready to move to University Avenue, in the space where Magic Mill used to be.

Oh, East Side Tom, I hope you're not playin' with us... is there some official confirmation of this, or is the move still in the works? I'll admit that La Brioche doesn't hit the spot 100% of the time, but usually it's quite good and the staff is friendlier than on this apparently rushed day. The chocolate croissant really benefits from a slight warm-up, so you don't get that massive lump of solid chocolate in the center. Their big cookies are usually excellent (molasses, chocolate intensity, etc.). It's just too bad that they will lose their closeness to the library -- it was a good excuse to get some goodies when making a library stop.

La Brioche: Not Mexican since 1822.

(thought it needed to be said)

la brioche is relocating to university avenue where magic mill used to be. i drove past it on my way to work today!

Cool, thanks for the update! Glad to know something's going into that spot.

I am the son of the owner. Yes it is indeed moving to University. The owner is trying to add the old Ovens of Brittany as well as some new things. He is keeping the bakery and adding more of a restaurant as well. It is going to be quite the place from what it looks like on the inside. There will be wine and beer as well as live music some nights.

I just went to La Brioche-True Food (which is what they are calling the place) today for breakfast.

I had a wonderful omlette with fresh ingredients, fresh bread and greens and coffee. The croissant I took home was also wonderful. I never went to the old place, and the new place isn't cheap ($9) for my breakfast, but I felt it was worth it.

It's worth another look, Nichole and JM.

Thanks for the update! That does sound good - our bad luck we got there before the move. We won't revise/revisit the review, but that's just our silly rules.

I thought you would go back if they changed the name of a place? Or maybe I just got confused. But if they are now called La Brioche-True Food, that should count as a name change.

I should step in here...

Not all name changes are created equal. If a place changes its name but does not move in the alphabet we generally do not return (See East Side Business Men's Association to East Side Club). If it were called True Food - La Brioche we would probably return... in the Ts.

I went to the new La Brioche location on University Avenue this morning and ordered a morning bun and some orange juice. I started to do a little work on my laptop at one of the tables and one of the staff came over and told me that I had to put away my computer because it wasn't in their "business model" to allow people to use laptops in their facility. I was surprised that they had a problem with it; it wasn't very busy there at the time, so it's not like I was taking up a table from someone else. I left right away and I will not be going back.

Yea - I heard before they even opened that they wanted it to be a restaurant-type of atmosphere rather than a coffee shop-type of atmosphere. My husband pulled out the newspaper last time we were there and started reading it, and a few minutes later I asked him to put it away because it just seemed out of place there. They're definitely trying to create a certain atmosphere. I think it's OK - I just don't go there when I'm in the mood to just hang out somewhere and read the paper (or use my laptop) and drink coffee. It's more a place for serious eating.

Re: La Brioche's policy of not using a laptop (or a cell phone, for that matter), I know they do have at least one sign up to this effect, and possibly more. It may be an unusual policy, but they make an effort to inform their customers as they enter.

I have been there many times and have had excellent food every time. The service has been generally good, sometimes fantastic, although occasionaly people sit at their table for a while before noticed (it's self-seating most of the time). Also, coffee refills are a bit slow.

I do wish they'd return to their original breakfast set-up which included ordering at the counter (a la Manna & Marigold). It makes it more casual and keeps the cost of breakfast a bit lower by not having to add a full-service tip to your bill and just tossing a dollar or two in the tip jar.

This is a well appointed and comfortable place to take out-of -town guests to experience a Madison eatery experience. However, on a busy saturday one might check out a McDonald's or Toco Bell as abetter choice!

Upon arrival at the La Brioche, the four of us were seated at a nice table by a west facing window. The table was partially set with water glasses and silverware and an individual soon came over to complete the table settings. We were shocked when a water glass was brought to the table with food stuck on the upper rim left there ,we hope, from an inadequate dishwasher. Rather than replacing the glass, the female "bus" person took her finger nail and proceeded to try to scratch off the dried on food and then placed it down in front of our out- of-town guest! Need less to say that glass was returned to the wait staff once he appeared at our table. He politely apologizes and brought a clean glass to the table. Strike one!

The wait staff took our order(s) and brought beverages to the table. Unfortunately, my glass of milk had a very obvious black object floating on the surface of the milk. Strike two! That glass was also promptly replaced.

Our order appeared in good time, however, the wait staff informed one of my guests that the dish they had ordered was no longer available and he thought it best to bring another dish to replace the one no longer available that day! It was obvious that the dish was sold out as we saw our wait staff provide the same service to the table directly opposite ours. If we had paid attention to what the dish was that our neighboring guest had ordered, we could have made another selection. That option, however, wasn't available to us! The waiter did not offer a menu to select another offering even though he was aware that the items was no longer available that day for lunch. He simply brought what he thought would be a similar dish although it was not a choice of any of us sitting in shock at the table. This whole experience was looking like one of those terrible TV situation comedy shows! Strike three! It can't get any worse!

The food we did receive was very good. After lunch one of my guests excused himself to make use of the washroom. I was sure that nothing could go wrong with that simple task. STRIKE FOUR! When he returned from the washroom he informed us that a person in an orange T-shirt and cap used the facilities only to watch the staff member walk out of the washroom without even the slightest attempt to wash his hands.

As this situation was being explained to us, there was a disturbance at the register. A husband was restraining his significant other from trying to explain that their food and service was less than acceptable. The person at the counter excused their concern and told them they would have to return later when the manager was available. ( I think the manager had seated us to our table a half hour earlier!)

So, we exited never to return and ready to share our experiences with friends and any foe we might encounter looking for a place to match the Madison eating experience we are so well known for! We had experienced our worst nightmare at the expense of dear friends whom we hoped to treat in Madison

This quality of service is fine if your intension was to drive returning guests from the restaurant. Is it time for a health department visit? We will never return and for that we are sorry. We liked the initial numerous visits!

Robert Lee

Awesome desserts with an atmosphere too hoity-toity for my taste. It always comes across a little forced to me when restaurants go for that country club vibe in Madison, although I have no problem with the no-laptop policy). To each their own, though...

Obviously not many of these folks came in for the French Toast with strawberries, blue berries, and English creme with butter garlic pots and thick and juicy bacon. With an exception of some over cooked pots one time, the food is exceptional.

Translation key:

Pots = potatoes
English creme = Crème anglaise

It took me a while. The commenters above, Phil, aren't knocking the food. They're knocking the service and attitude.

We go to La Brioche for Sunday brunch regularly, and it's always great. We like the eggs Benedict and French toast the best, but it's all good. I like that they serve salad with most of the entrees. They have jazz during brunch which is a nuisance if you're seated right next to the piano (too loud for conversation), but creates a special ambiance otherwise. We've gotten the same waitress every time, and she's fantastic on every level. I like that she actually knows who ordered what when she brings our food, and that she asks if she can fill our coffees before pouring! Two pet peeves of mine. We see the staff washing their hands regularly in the sink by the food warmer, BTW.

Have been to the new La Brioche several times. Food is always good, although the main dish salads can use some additional protein. The service has been spotty--the servers seem very inexperienced and at the same time overly-confident. I hope they get it together.

I also miss the counter take-out service from the old La Brioche. Where are the curried-tofu sandwiches? I get the true-food aspect of this incarnation of La Brioche, I just wish it were a little less pretentious.

Tried Sunday brunch a few weeks back, but was thoroughly unimpressed. It took a long time to actually get service, and the service that we did get was not good. It almost seemed like we were an annoyance to the wait staff. At one point, when the waitress came to refill water glasses, she took the glass out of my hand as I was about to take a drink to refill it. After that, even after I had run out of water, I never got a refill.

I ordered the salmon omelet, which was extremely salty (I expect cured salmon to be salty, but not this much). This was a problem given that the water service had stopped towards the end of the meal. The omelet itself was nice and fluffy, if only a little too large.

The boyfriend ordered the banana french toast, which was okay, but kind of dry. I would take Marigold Kitchen's french toast any day over this one.

I probably won't go back to eat here, but am definitely going to try some of those tasty-looking macaroons.

My interpretation of your "What is a restaurant and when is it closed?" policy seems to argue for a revisit.

The "New name, same theme and ownership" entry makes the list placement exception, but the "New name and theme, same ownership" entry does not.

A change in theme should override the static position on the alphabetical list. But hey, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

(Of course, I'm saying this now because I just went to LB-TF for the first time tonight, and I'm selfishly curious what you two would make of it.)

I think the confusion here is under the unpublished codicle "What is a new name?"

New Name: In order to be considered a new name, the restaurant must have a change in its first five characters. Hence, East Side Club is the same as East Side Business Men's Association. They are just isomerisms of the same name.

La Brioche shares (depending on your wicket-stickiness w/r/t foreign initial articles and carriage returns) at least seven characters with its former home and does not merit a revisit under the list.

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