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Lakefront on Langdon

In a word:  The meals are like the trays. Some fit and some don't.

The specs: #0320
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Dane101 and Yelp; official web site.

AW ate the kung pao chicken with a milk.
JM ate the fish tacos, Grandma's cookies and accidentally grabbed 2 diet Gray's root beers.
JMR ate the carnitas burrito minus rice plus pico de gallo and hot corn salsa.
KH ate the Greek wrap with "frips."
Nichole ate the sushi and a piece of fudge bottom pie with a Diet Coke.
TZ ate the carne asada burrito.
The bill was about $7 each.
TZ gave Lakefront on Langdon a B+; JMR and Nichole gave Lakefront on Langdon a B-; JM gave Lakefront on Langdon a C (see our grading rubric).

Latest Lakefront on Langdon news and reviews


Lakefront on Langdon brought us downtown for lunch with some of Nichole's new co-workers (great sports, all) to check out the local student fare. Back in the day, when Nichole and JM went to school, if the Caf had tried to make sushi or fish tacos, they would have run away in horror. (And lunch cost only a quarter. Cheap.) But this is 2008 in Madison where the presence of both ethnic cuisine and coasties call for a higher standard than we hicks from Eau Claire demanded. Hence, our experience at Lakefront on Langdon was more cosmopolitan than the average school cafeteria.

BurritoTZ simply said his burrito was not quite as good as one from a taqueria, but it was still worth a B+. JMR liked her burrito, too, especially the hot corn salsa.

Veggie wrap and "frips"KH said tellingly that her vegetarian Greek wrap was great if you happen to be on a diet. The wrap itself was grilled or toasted, which added a nice texture, but it was mostly stuffed full of iceberg lettuce (some of which was brown). She found only 2 pieces of identifiable feta cheese, and the hummus spread was on one end of the wrap but not the other. The "frips" underneath - baked potato chips - were edible but not worth finishing.

Kung pao chicken

AW's kung pao chicken was the prettiest of all our lunches. The colorful veggies were crisp and fresh, though the noodles were maybe a little undercooked. The milk from Babcock Hall was, as always, a nice accompaniment.

LunchJM's fish tacos were unremittingly bland and very damp and drippy. Why you would use a chunk of deep fried fish in a fish taco is beyond him. Fish flesh should be tender to the tooth in a medium of sauce, not drowning as these pieces were. The diet root beer was a little better than he expected - considering that he normally orders diet only if a place is out of water. That the prepackaged Grandma's brand cookies were the best part of his meal is kind of a problem.

Sushi closeupNichole opted for the "new" sushi, which comes prepackaged as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian mix of 4 huge rolls. She got the pescatorian "spicy and seafood" combo, and though the cold case was out of wasabi, she'd like to note that the accomodating Lakefront staff were very fast to restock it for her. The rolls themselves were no great find - they were a very bland, very big "whatever." The fake crab filling fell apart once its defenses, like a wall of Minute Rice, were breached.

Fudge bottom pie

We couldn't visit a UW cafeteria and not try a slice of the storied and - almost - worth it fudge bottom pie. This is the Union version; the rivalry between Housing and the Union over the origin of the recipe is interesting lunchtime reading. (Go read the story; we'll wait.)

The coy come-hither glance on the slice above was very enticing. In practice, the pie would probably taste better with a hearty helping of nostalgia, which we as non-alums lacked. JM couldn't help but say he detected a hint of play-doh-esque flavor in the whipped topping. The graham cracker crust coated in a thin but delicious chocolate layer was definitely the best part.

User interfaceOn the usability front, we noticed that some trays fit and some don't. Otherwise, the place seems to run fairly well for a school cafeteria.


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I gotta say, I'm in the Union all the time and I wish Lakefront were better than it is. The tacqueria is acceptable, but no better than Chipotle, which is to say, not real good. And the Asian stand should be missed -- I just had that nearly tasteless kung pao chicken last week and all I can say is that I should have trusted the instinct that warned me that zucchini doesn't belong in kung pao chicken.

But the Asian stand sometimes offers a pretty good Southern fried chicken, for some reason.

That's some of the most disgusting looking food I've ever seen and I go to UW!

On the fish tacos: I've never had them with anything but battered and deep-fried fish, and that's the way I make them, too.

I'm confused, JM: were you looking for a naked-but-sauced filet?

I recently (wait for the review) had grilled Tilapia on fish tacos and they were the ideal salsa and sauce vehicle.

I have to agree with JSE's comments, particularly that the tacqueria is ok but far from good. (My pet peeve is they dropped the K.F. Sanchez line in the Rathskeller, evidently to avoid competing with Lakefront's taqueria. Sanchez wasn't the best "mexican" food in the whole wide world, but it was definitely a trade down on that exchange.) I also found the fish tacos to be kind of odd with their battered, deep-fried, fish-n-chips chunks.

Lakefront's food in general just isn't that good, and I'm spending a lot less money at Memorial Union than I used to.

JM, interesting! I look forward to reading the review.

I wouldn't mind Lakefront if the food wasn't so high priced for what you are getting. Previous comments are correct: If you want a burrito, just go to Chipotle or Qdoba, where the quality is better and price comparable.

About the only time I eat there is the brunch on Sunday. Otherwise, I'm packing a lunch.

I came to the Union to see a concert and ended up eating dinner. It cost over $8 including a drink and the quality of the food was worse than my grade school cafeteria! You can get an entire dinner at the Med Cafe for $6.50. Avoid!

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