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Lake Vista Cafe

Lake Vista CafeIn a word: Often overlooked.

The specs: #0461  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, 77 Square, EatDrinkMadison.com, IsthmusTDP; official web site, Lake Vista Cafe on Urbanspoon

Latest Lake Vista Cafe news and reviews

JM ate the cheeseburger with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the French onion soup.
We split some fries and a lemonade pie.
The bill was $21, or $10.50/person, plus tip and parking.
JM and Nichole both gave Lake Vista Cafe an A- (see our grading rubric).

When Lake Vista Cafe is compared to its true peers, that is, other conference center concessions, it truly blows them out of the water. It even holds its own compared to other downtown lunch spots. We tempted the day's threatening clouds and gusting winds and were glad we did.

Burger, soup, fries

The lunch menu is small but well-conceived. Daily specials - when we went, a "Baja soup" of chicken, cheese and tortilla strips and a "pecan pie salad" with candied nuts - flesh it out. The staff have that friendly-if-cynical attitude that's so endearing in city employees (Nichole can say that since she is one.) Anyway, of JM's burger:

  • Bun: toasted white, very fresh.
  • Meat: tender and flavorful.
  • Bun/meat ratio: perfect.
  • Cheese: real, tangy cheddar.
  • Misc.: marinated mushrooms really stood out. Served with fresh lettuce, a slice of ripe tomato, and a pickle spear. 8 of 10 overall.

The accompanying fries were excellent: very salty, thin, and crispy, with a tomato aioli which we didn't use much of. Nichole's French onion soup was tops, and very rich, with buttered croutons, tangy Swiss, and a hearty broth/onion melange underneath.

Lemonade pieDessert was a tiny "lemonade pie" that proved just exquisite. It was a sturdy graham cracker crust, about four inches in diameter, filled with a layer of tart lemon curd, a swirl of creamy frosting, and candied lemon zest. 

All told, the only thing we could hold against Lake Vista Cafe is that its open hours are so beholden to the weather, and perhaps that hearty appetites might need to shell out $20 to feel satisfied. However, the cost is not out of line with regard to the quality you get here.

And the vista itself is lovely.



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I really would like that lemonade pie.

Lake Vista opens for the season on May 9. Thanks for this review -- we might give it a shot this year!

Just ate there tonight for the first time. I agree with everything said in this article. I would even go farther and say that the food is bargain priced considering the quality of the product. The burger was $9, which is cheaper than many of the burgers on a Denny's menu, yet so much more delicious. We also enjoyed the special sauce that came with our fries.

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