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Cannery Grill

Cannery GrillIn a word: Ho-hum.

The specs: #0452 
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, 77 Square, Madison Fish Fry; official web site, Cannery Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Latest Cannery Grill news and reviews

JM ate the prime rib sandwich.
Jim N. ate the beer cheese soup and beef stroganoff.
Nichole ate the Cannery Burger and beef vegetable soup.
We split the fried cheese curds.
The bill was $38, or $12.67/person, plus tip.
JM gave Cannery Grill a B; Nichole gave Cannery Grill a C-, Jim gave Cannery Grill a D+ (see our grading rubric).

The Cannery Grill is tucked a few blocks from the main drag, spitting distance from Atlantis Taverna and Market Street Diner in a mixed-use building. We got a chuckle out of the sign reserving parking for residents of the "Cannery Grill Apartments" and wondered what would happen if the restaurant ever folded. After this lunch, though, such a scenario wouldn't surprise us in the least.

The meal didn't suffer for lack of good company, as we were joined by Jim Norton, half of the team that created "The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin" and the editor of Heavy Table, one of the most read food sites in the Twin Cities. Rather, the meal suffered from a chain-like atmosphere and recipes that, at the very least, needed more testing.

Cheese curdsBeer cheese soupBeef vegetable soup

StroganoffThe menu is standard Friday's fare with the attendant huge portions: flatbread and regular sandwiches, salads, pasta, and burgers. We started with some deep fried cheese curds that were uniform in size and coated in a quarter inch breading, offered with marinara or ranch. They weren't even a big so what, they were a little so what. Jim and Nichole sampled a different soup each; the beer cheese was not so much cheese-flavored as nacho cheez inspired, including flecks of red pepper. The beef vegetable was too salty to finish, with an almost gelatinous texture, but big chunks of beef.

Jim said he chose beef stroganoff because of its status as Midwestern "soul food" that shouldn't be hard to pull off. Unfortunately, the dish was a "train wreck." The noodles were very thin and weren't a good vehicle for the sauce. Like the beef vegetable soup, the overriding flavor of the stroganoff was salt. The beef was "chewing-gum tough" and the garnishes, sour cream and sad-looking scallions, made little difference to the dish.Cannery Burger

Nichole's signature "Cannery Burger" was not as bad (h/t as always to Kate for the rubric):

  • Bun: toasted white with sesame seeds.
  • Meat: decent, cooked to order.
  • Bun/meat ratio: just fine.
  • Cheese: sloppy guacamole substituted for cheese.
  • Misc.: served with leaf lettuce, a thick slice of rather pink tomato, pickle slices, and long strips of bacon. About a 5 of 10 overall.

Of this crowd, JM was the most pleased with his dish off the daily specials menu. A thick slab (as opposed to thin slices) of tenderish prime rib topped a toasted bun.  The jus was fine but a thicker sauce would have been better. The haystack onions were very lightly fried but had soaked up a lot of grease; still, they might have been the best aspect of the meal. But, then again, he ordered the special - not a good sign when the best dish isn't on the menu.

Prime Rib sandwich

Service throughout the meal was either solicitous or hovering, depending on your point of view. To sum up, in Jim's words:

At the same price point, I'd rather eat at Culver's where you can get more graceful execution of a similar Midwestern suburban contemporary menu; and since Culver's is actually much cheaper, the decision would be simple.


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Huh. We've been pretty happy the two or three times we've been there. Not exemplary, but the stroganoff (one of Kristine's favorite comfort dishes, too) was quite good when she had it--but that was over a year ago. They used RP Pasta at least--again, back then.

Nothing mind-blowing, but comfortably in the B to B- range.

Was a bit surprised by the poor review at the start, but after reading the whole article I agree completely.
Those Haystack Onions look sad and "heavy". while the nacho cheez / beer soup sounds pretty bad, too.

I have to agree with Kyle -- been there several times and while I can't give high marks: a B to B- is probably my normal rating. That may not sound great, but a B in Sun Prairie is an A in Madison :)

Terrible, terrible place. My parents ordered cheesesteak sandwiches and an appetizer dip. After an hour, still no app, the waitress came out and told them they were out of cheesesteak buns but would substitute hamburger. The soggy sandwiches came out each on two small hamburger buns. They cancelled the appetizer. For the trouble the waitress offered my mom a free refill on her soda (which automatically has free refills). Insulting.

I am now bound and determined to go there again soon, to measure any decline in customer service. Every time we were there, the service was almost spurned-lover-clingy and as eager to please.

That wasn't meant to sound as skeevy as it probably does.

Way below average food(especially at these prices) and usually lousy service. Hope the owner has deep pockets or this place should be gone soon.

I can't believe this place is still open! I went as part of a group and begged them to choose a different restaurant. By the end of the night, everyone acknowledged that they should've listened to me. The place was nearly empty at 6:00 on a Thursday, which was a great first clue of things to come. We had a reservation - and again, they weren't busy - but it took at least 10 minutes for us to be seated. It was at least another 10 before our drinks order was taken, and our food took nearly an hour! And even then, no two of us got our food at the same time. Main dish salads were the last to arrive. Really? It's a salad! Burgers weren't cooked to order, pasta was horribly overcooked. Empty water glasses went unfilled. I made mild complaints but we were offered nothing for our troubles - not even a cheap, crappy pre-made dessert. Never again - I'll miss a function rather than give these folks any more of my money.

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