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The Haze

Update: Haze will close 2/26/11.

In a word: A ray of light out of the fog.

The specs: #0516  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Eating, Drinking, Madison and elsewhere, 77 SquareTrip Advisor, Beast's Kitchen, Isthmus (and opening announcement), AV Club 9/2/09 and 10/12/10, Eat Drink Madison, QSC, TDPF, Madison Magazine, Ruppert Food Blog, leedav's photostream; official web site, Facebook page, Haze on Urbanspoon

Latest Haze news and reviews

JM ate the Western ribs with fries and slaw and a fountain drink.
John ate the Western chicken (applewood smoked BBQ) with cauliflower and grits and a fountain drink.
Nichole ate the char-siu pork with beets and cabbage and a Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA.
We also got some pickles and a tamale.
The bill was $44, or $14.67/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave The Haze an A; John gave The Haze an A- (see our grading rubric).

The Haze serves up what we suspected - and later confirmed to be - one of the better values in downtown eats, in terms of care-taken-per-dollar. We went the same day the cover story on Shinji Muramoto came out in Isthmus, which was perfect timing to whet our appetites.

Nichole arrived early and caught a Happy Hour half price beer, which gave her plenty of time to resolve her analysis paralysis when faced by the big chalkboard of mix-and-match entrees. The big task is to choose an entree and style, East vs. West, a meat, and sides, all of which sounded creative and appealing. Vegetarians might be fogged out of the Haze, unfortunately.

PicklesTamale

We started with some pickles and a tamale. The pickles were garlicky cucumber rounds that retained their crunch and sweetness. The tamale had a twist: instead of being damp masa in a corn husk wrapper, this one was deep-fried and used the husk just for presentation. An excellent, cinnamon-rich sauce and fresh garnish and lime topped it off.

Apple wood smoked chicken, grits, cauliflower

John is a lifelong cauliflower fan, and yet this was the best he's ever had: peppery and not overcoooked. That means that all you cauli-haters should come give it a second try here. The grits, too, were tasty, and that's coming from a born S'uth'ner. The chicken was fork-tender, mixed white and dark meat (no fat phobia here) pulled off the bone for convenience.

Char-siu pork, ginger beets, cabbage

Nichole's char-siu pork was our server's top recommendation, and truthfully the description of the meat (involving five-spice powder and more) outpaced the flavor - yet it was still delicious. The gingered beets and cabbage complemented each other very well, and there were plenty of leftovers.

Ribs, fries, and slawJM chose a very Western dish indeed: the ribs, slaw, fries and toast. The ribs were darned near perfect - neither too tough nor too soft, they were well sauced and also just the right amount of messy. The fries benefited from their proximity to the sauce. The slaw was unmemorable, but since we took home so much food, this seems like splitting hairs.

The Haze's biggest challenge may be publicity. It still occupies the Kushi Bar Muramoto space with barely more signage. Early reports seemed to slag it for being "Good, but not Great," yet it has a lot to offer, particularly if your group of diners has very diverse tastes (i.e., one person's "interesting" is another person's "weird"). Plus, we'll take G,bnG any day for this price. We hope it sticks around, not just because we haven't had a chance to try the banh mi, but because The Haze is doing a good job being itself.

Comments

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How timely!

Monks Who Brew Beer Dinner at Haze, March 21.

The Haze is a weirdly mixed bag. I thought the banh mi was a LOT better than the char siu. The cauliflower and grits are indeed great; other sides, like the fried pea and bacon salad, are inventive but in the end mostly weird. On the whole a very welcome newcomer to downtown.

I adored Kushi Bar, and man I miss the wasabi pork balls with a glass of sake. I equally enjoy The Haze. The Haze could hold their own in Memphis. I visit Memphis on a reular basis, so I know what good BBQ should taste like. (The Rendedzvous is for tourist.)

I think what might be off putting to those that give it a lukewarm review is that they can't wrap their mind around the Asain side of the menu. Like some sort of fear that the Asian flavored foods is going to add some wierd taste to the American style foods. When I mention the Asian style BBQ to people I get wierd looks.

I've been to The Haze twice and really enjoyed the food. However, the last time I went during lunch, they had some serious service problems. It wasn't crowded by a long shot, but our food seemed to take much longer than one would expect and I noticed some people who came after us got their food first. When our order came, the sides were reversed on the two plates. They fixed that, but then when I finally got my plate, I realized it was the wrong order. Now, when someone puts down a pulled pork sandwich in front of me, especially one as good as at The Haze, I'm going to eat it, so I didn't send it back and it was good. None of this would stop me from eating there again, but I hope they get their system down a little better, or I can see where it could become a problem down the line.

Went to lunch there on Friday - very good...good service...delicous pork - Only complaint - the BBQ sauces could have been a little more varied. Other than that. Good!

I've had a couple pretty inconsistent experiences here--the kushi bar was a whole lot better, including in the important value to quantity of food level--but your review has convinced me to try it at least one more time.

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