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Riverview Terrace Cafe

In a word: Mini-Monona Terrace does some things Wright.

The specs: #0552  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Riverview Terrace Cafe at Taliesin on Urbanspoon; official web site, Hubbard.

JM ate the grilled chicken sandwich with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the salmon salad croissant and a Diet Coke.
The bill was $27, or $13.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Riverview Terrace Cafe a B; Nichole gave Riverview Terrace Cafe a B- (see our grading rubric).

Latest Riverview Terrace Cafe news and reviews

Chicken sandwichWe admit our bias against places that require a long drive, and yes, our hearts sank just a little when we found out Riverview Terrace Cafe (just outside Spring Green in the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center) is run by Food Fight - not because Food Fight is necessarily bad, but because it's a long way to go for what we expected would be Hubbard (Far) West, and that's about what we got.

The service was homey. After setting up a couple aspiring employees with job applications and pencils, then seating us and listing the specials and beers (New Glarus and Ale Asylum's biggest hits), the hostess left us in the care of a rotation of servers. We about had a heart attack when one of them brought our refills and asked, "Aren't you from Madison?" Turns out we weren't busted... this time; we'd just been recognized from another of our painfully typical Madison activities. Small world.

Salmon salad croissantWe'd feel bad about prattling on off-topic like this, but we don't have much to say about the food. JM got the grilled chicken sandwich: no frills, just real grill marks and good-quality lettuce, tomato, and onion. The slaw had a bite to it that suggested mustard.

The salmon salad on an untoasted croissant used just enough mayo to bind together the fish, dill, and diced, peeled cucumber.

The Heath cheesecake was Heath cheesecake (tautology at no additional cost). The best part of lunch was probably the celebrated view across the river.

Heath cheesecakeCurious about the history of the cafe, we later read on the Taliesin Preservation web site that an upscale restaurant called The Spring Green operated there from 1967 to 1992. Between 1993 and 2009, the food concession was in flux, with time under Ovens of Brittany and "several other smaller local operators," according to a tour guide. With that in mind, it's clear how Food Fight's stability is an asset to the visitor's center.

We also read after the fact that the architecture school's gardens are growing like gangbusters, and will in fact host a fundraising dinner prepared by Odessa Piper and Madison Club chefs on September 19, 2010.

The Taliesin farmlands are close to being certified organic, and someday there may be an operating CSA based at the farm. When that day comes, we can't help but hope just a little bit that the Riverside Terrace Cafe would ditch the upscale conference-center fare and take a step in the Wright direction. And when we tire of making that joke, well... we probably won't be writing this stuff anymore.


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I'm afraid that as long as they have the captive audience of Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts passing through, they'll have little motivation to do anything more than the cheap and easy to make fare they have now.

So for those of you out in the Spring Green area, I highly suggest trying out some of the other options in the area before eating here. The Bank, the General Store, Sheds or Rumble Seats (all in Spring Green) offer more interesting choices.

From the sampling you had at Riverview, it sounds as though Hubbard is offering much the same as what it is providing for APT. Good to be sure, but Driftless Appetite's right...for those in the Spring Green area there are much better local offerings. Riverview is great for Taliesin, providing visitors with a quick, reliable bite; but it is not a destination unto itself.

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Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



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