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King and Mane

Update 5/8/11: Per press release from owners, King and Mane will close. Tipsy Cow will open on 5/23/11.

In a word: Uneven fusion and we ain't lion.

The specs: #0575  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus (5/25/10, 5/27/10, 7/22/10), 77Square, Yelp, QSC, Channel3000; listing at Eat Drink Madison; official web site

Latest King and Mane news and reviews

JM ate the chicken and a canela whoopie pie with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the queso fundido, chicken soup, and a cookie with a beer.
The bill was $35, or $17.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave King and Mane a B+; Nichole gave King and Mane a C+ (see our grading rubric).

King and Mane feels a bit like "Weird" Al Yankovic's music. Appreciation, not appropriation, should be the word of the day, and has to be done very carefully. Some folks will find King and Mane is doing fine in this regard, and might find the playful food combinations from Mexico, Spain and Italy charming; others won't.

Getting a table was tricky in the absence of a host station, but we eventually took a seat outside where the patio was shady and pleasant except for the non-synchronization of the clicks from two crosswalk signs nearby (by now you know we're sensitive to that kind of thing). The lemonade had ample pulp but a fakey flavor. The beer was something from Rogue that neither the server nor Nichole could remember any details about.

JM got the chicken. This sounded simple and was in fact excellent. The description ("pan-roasted chicken breast, green onion mashed potato, pickled tomato") explains the numerous flavors at work, and a curried tomatillo salsa was very good. The meat was seared and juicy, though the mashed potatoes were somewhat cool in the middle.

Nichole ordered the wrong stuff again. The oregano, peppers, and Very Small bit of chorizo in the queso fundido didn't manage to transcend the cold hard facts: that it's a bowl of melted jack cheese, and it congealed fast. She chose the chicken soup because she wanted to find out how masa spaetzle worked, and it kind of didn't, though the cultural exchange was a nice ideal. The dumplings were like extruded cylinders without much flavor, but they had a clean, non-gummy texture that's preferable to a poor dumpling. The soup was thick and opaque, full of roasted peppers, and hot with fresh black pepper, but after a bowl's worth even that became somewhat dull.

Chicken, soup, and queso fundido

Dessert was a canela whoopie pie (watch for it at Taste of Madison) and a Marcona almond/bittersweet chocolate cookie. Both sounded better on paper. The whoopie pie was soft as a cloud with a fluffy frosting center, but we couldn't detect the spices that were ostensibly there to make it Mexican; the cookie (served room temperature, which was surprising, and yes, Nichole's appalled at her own effete expectations based on how excellent a simple 20 seconds in the microwave can be for a chocolate chip cookie - but maybe K&M doesn't have a micro - now where were we?) was so full of toothsome chocolate planks that the run-of-the-mill dough served merely as adhesive. At $1.75, this cookie kicks ass over every coffeehouse chocolate chip cookie downtown*; if King & Mane's coffee is any good, and they do to-go, that's where we suspect a sweet spot is.

There was no room on our camera for dessert because we wanted to remember how adorable it was that a pepper plant was growing on the patio.

King and Mane garden

*We've heard about Graze's baked-to-order cookies. Graze is on the post-S makeup list. Have mercy and please don't remind us how long we have to wait to go there for reals.

Comments

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Yeesh. Those pics are not appetizing! Not that they are poorly framed or lit, there's just zero presentation in evidence.

Poor presentation always makes me wonder what else the restaurant is blowing off.

I had a couple of really good things there, but I've certainly heard mixed reviews.

One of these days, I need a volunteer to get the two Sonoran hot dogs on Wednesdays. I think two would be far too much for me, but at $10, it's not a bad buy...and I've always wanted to try those things.

(The good - I must say - was REALLY good. Great sandwich, great beet salad. And I'm not a fan of beets...).

I'll make the drive up from Oregon and take a long lunch whenever you're up for it, man.

Looking for a simple-ish quick bite, the wife and I finally made it to King and Mane. I had the walleye vera cruz sandwich, which was really good. The bread was great (and perfectly shaped for the filet!), the toppings were flavorful, and the fish was cooked right. The side of beans and rice were a non-factor.

Kristine, having not read any reviews in advance, ordered the same queso fundido as you, Nichole. And while it was her loss for not prepping, the experience confirms your analysis 100%. I think Kristine even said that she "ordered wrong." I'm an apologist for any kind of cheese, but it's absurd that this dish costs $9. And it was quite the oily bomb. I would only order this to split between no fewer than three people.

Crispin cider on tap is a great asset, but the unevenness of the food is evident (as was very spotty, if apologetic, service).

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