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Eight Seasons Grille

Update 7/15/15: Eight Seasons Grille is closed.

In a word: Good for a little lunch.

The specs: #0627  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Isthmus, Yelp, Eat Drink Madison, 77 Square; official web site, Eight Seasons Grille on Urbanspoon

Latest Eight Seasons news and reviews

JM ate the pulled pork sandwich with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the breakfast sandwich with a coffee.
We split a slice of chess pie a la mode.
The bill was $18, or $9/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Eight Seasons a B+ (see our grading rubric).

We chose a weekend lunch at Eight Seasons. From the moment we walked in we thought it hit the sweet spot between coffeeshop and bistro. The host station doubles as register, and telegraphs the user protocol effortlessly whether you're eating in or taking a cup of coffee to go.

CoffeeWe were invited to take a seat and chose a four-top by the window - OK, all the tables were four-tops and the windows are never far away in the smallish dining room. Nichole's first task was to speedread the lengthy tea list and coffee choices (JM had it easy - there was lemonade). In the end she went with a house blend, Las Diosas from Just Coffee. It was strong and slightly oily but had a clean finish.

Our sandwiches came out fast.

Pulled pork and saladBreakfast sandwich

The BBQ pulled pork was a generous portion on a lightly toasted kaiser roll. The meat was sloppy and sweet. The mixed greens were dressed very heavily; both meat and veg could have used a hit of vinegar. The pairing of the salad with the sandwich, though, was spot on and a good value to boot.

The breakfast sandwich was an over-easy egg on a toasted English muffin with cheese and a turkey sausage patty. The sausage was good: hearty, with sage and a zing of peppercorn every other bite. The cheese list was long and included gorgonzola, swiss, and mozzarella (if we recall correctly). Cheddar was not the best choice, as it was served in a thick slice that compounded the cheese's natural aversion to melting. The flavors were great together, but the sandwich required a firm grip that made the yolk run for its life. Faster eaters would probably enjoy this sandwich more than Nichole did.

For dessert, our server recommended the chess pie and it was jus' great. It had a thick, sugary bottom and a firm custard center with the self-crusting top characteristic of the Southern recipe. The small scoop of vanilla ice cream was topped with a homemade caramel sauce. The whole dish was close to perfect. A pinch of coarse-grained salt on top would have made it.

Chess pie

JM couldn't help but make a comparison to Jo's Tazzina, the previous, unrelated tenant of the space. At that visit he'd come away with the impression that every dish had too many ingredients (yep, not unlike Emperor Joseph II in Amadeus). Eight Seasons uses quality ingredients to make great versions of comfort food, instead of changing comfort food into something else by adding weird ingredients. This was definitely true of our lunch.

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