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Blue Spoon Cafe

Blue Spoon CafeUpdate 8/26/10: The Middleton Blue Spoon Cafe is closed.

In a word: We might recommend it if we knew why it's there.

The specs: #0344
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Middleton Times-Tribune, Forked Tongue, JSOnline, Cap Times; official web site; Blue Spoon Cafe on Urbanspoon

Latest place news and reviews

JM ate the half rack of ribs with mashed potatoes and a Caesar salad with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the half roast beef sandwich and apple baked beans.
The bill was $22, or $11/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Blue Spoon a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Blue Spoon Cafe is indeed a Culver's off-shoot, but it doesn't share its parent's local Wisconsin feel. It feels instead quite nouveau-riche, like it's trying to fit in against Greenway Station in Middleton. As if Culver's won the Lottery and thought, "Hey! I'd like to start a chain of upscale restaurants, too!" not realizing that the competition is soulless, and that cribbing from them leads to both inconsistency and incompetence. Very Small Time Crooks.

Our visit got off to a rocky start. The menu above the counter register clashed with the "please wait to be seated" sign. (We're no oenophiles, but the wine rack sitting in the bright rays of the setting sun didn't seem right either.) We asked for a table and were pointed to the stairs, at the top of which we were greeted and directed to a table - not really seated, as we had to first move a tray caddy before pulling out our chairs.

The ambiance - comme ce dit? - sucked. There were no soft surfaces in the sleekly appointed room to absorb any of the noise from those at the table of hilarious people behind us, who sounded like they'd indulged a little heavily in the sundrenched vino.
The wine list does make up about half of the printed menu. The other half is something of a Frankenstein, as if someone made a mix CD of dishes from 12 different good restaurants and then just hit shuffle. We placed our order in shouts and broad gestures and somehow did get what we asked for.

Caesar saladSomething about JM's Caesar salad reminded him of the lettuce that comes on a Whopper Jr with cheese; he's sure the ingredients are different but there was something in the overtones that just hit the institutional tastebuds. Nichole noted that the hard boiled egg slice looked groggy - it still had lines embedded on its surface, as if it had just woken up from a nap (or, more likely, been released from its vacuum packaging). The tomatoes were room temperature but the butter was ice cold, and the shiny glass plates, while appropriate for home entertaining, just did not hide fingerprints and smudges very well.

RibsJM said of his meat that the ribs were below average.  He prefers his rib meats to be on the "falling off the bone" end and these were a little tough, though a good bbq flavor did emerge from the saucing.  He was very happy with the portion size, but, as you may expect, he had no desire to eat down to the bone. The side of potatoes seemed chemically-flavored, which did not help when they also were a touch colder than he expected.

Roast beef Euro and baked beansSurprisingly enough, Nichole found the "Euro" roast beef sandwich and apple-baked beans were good. (We'll buy your next one if you can sufficiently explain what makes this a "Euro" sandwich. We don't think it's a play on "gyro.") The sandwich had a great crunch and a good ratio of toppings. The Carr Valley cheese stood out - we'd noticed it was all over the menu, but that might be because the Carr Valley outlet is in the same strip mall. The apple baked beans were a great take on a casual side dish, with a gentle sweetness. At an incongruously cheap $4.50 the half sandwich and side was a good value for a small meal.

Fabbri gelato

On the way out we noticed the Fabbri tags in the gelato and sincerely hope this isn't how they make it fresh daily (warning: sound). Fabbri does seem to be a purveyor of gelato-making supplies to the pros as well as home cooks, so maybe we protest too much.

For what it's worth, the Blue Spoon in Sauk City Prairie du Sac is totally different, with a small-town, downtown renaissance feel and a far less contrived execution. When in Sauk Prairie, it's definitely worth a stop.

But bottom line? We'd rather eat at Culver's.

Comments

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I've never eaten at the Middleton one. I have eaten at the one in Prairie du Sac (not Sauk City). I highly recommend their pancakes. They are topped with strawberries and vanilla gelato. You can get a nice meal without spending too much.

Whoops, thanks for the correction, Elizabeth!

In two visits have had mediocre food and slow and/or thoughtless service. Gelato is OK, but Java Cat on Monona Dr. has better. Hard to see how they could make the Culver's experience _worse_ by going upscale, but they did. Slow service instead of fast food; arrogant suburban atmosphere instead the basic courtesy you can get even from Culver's drive-thru windows. Go figure!

I work down the street from the Blue Spoon in Prairie and it's just about the best place in town, not that the competition's that tough. I had a few friends that said the exact same thing about the Middleton location. It makes me wonder why they experimented with the concept to the extent that they did. Also, the roast beef is my personal favorite, but I have no clue why it's a "Euro". If I had to take a stab, I'd say it's a code for "fancy".

Totally agree with Eastside Eater - you cannot beat Java Cat on Monona Drive for good gelato. The owner/chef makes those batches fresh daily.

My issue with this restaurant is that it is like most of the new Middleton developments - nice appearance but missing the follow through. They try so hard but fail when it comes to the end product. Too bad. I wont visit the Middleton branch again - but since there are glowing reviews, I'll prob. be game to hitting the Prairie branch some time.

I absolutely have to defend the Blue Spoon, but not for their dinners. Go for breakfast. Seriously. Thick, fluffy pancakes made with custard in the batter. Huge ham, egg and cheese sandwiches served on wonderful croissants. Eggs Benedict in a lovely hollandaise. A number of great veggie options, including the Benedict with a marinated portabella mushroom and spinach instead of ham. Their coffee's not bad either, and even better with some vanilla gelato steamed in. If you've been disappointed by their evening meals, please try again before 11am. It's one of our favorite places for Saturday breakfast.

I really enjoyed the Blue Spoon! The sandwich I got (the Santa Fe Chicken) was very flavorful and enticing. Also, I know why it's called a Euro. It refers to the bread it's served on, a baguette. Does this mean I get a sandwich, or is that offer expired?

That's the best answer we've heard, Ryan - drop us an email!

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