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Tornado Club

TornadoIn a word: The steaks are high (priced and quality).

The specs: #0666  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at Eat Drink Madison, Yelp, Eating Madison, The Culinary Adventures of Jahboh and Tossy, bekeeblog, Down 2 Eat, Ruppert Food Blog, Krik's Picks, Succulent Photography; official web site (warning: sound), Tornado Steak House on Urbanspoon

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JM and Nichole split the 14 ounce filet and hashbrowns.
John ate the T-bone with a Caesar salad and a Potosi ale.
Nichole also had the brussels sprouts, a wedge salad and a Kentucky coffee.
Rose ate the shrimp with the spinach salad and a decaf.
We split a slice of pecan caramel torte.
The bill was $125, or $31.25/person, plus tip (thanks, M&C!).
John and Rose gave Tornado Club an A; JM gave Tornado Club an A-; Nichole gave Tornado Club a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Tornado Club was the "last best restaurant" on the list for years, which is to say that in conversations about our alphabetical progress, Tornado was usually the restaurant named following a phrase like, "You need to skip ahead to my favorite place."

The best of these conversations were the ones that ended with the interlocutor peeling a couple crisp hundreds off his bankroll and slipping them into JM's shirt pocket with a "What the heck, you crazy kids, have a good time on me."*

We alluded to that "last best" thing in the wrap-up to the P's. So here we finally are. We'd probably pick Tornado over other special-occasion steakhouses because their sides and desserts are better than average. We also hear the late-night menu is good.

John got a Potosi ale from the good beer selection, and Nichole picked a Kentucky coffee (coffee, milk, bourbon and Old Sugar honey liqueur). The local distillery's contribution is what led her to drop the $8 on one drink, and the sweet, dry honey liqueur did shine through the mix. Despite a little scuzzy milk action, the rest of the drink was fine.

Tornado does relish and bread with personality. The relish glass came with a skewer of radish, cuke slices, and cherry tomatoes, escorted by lankier companions celery, carrot sticks, and a green onion. The bread plate had soft butter with a substantial loaf of rosemary bread, a dry biscuit, and a breadstick covered in sesame seeds. We asked for a second stick. It was granted with a smile, but surprisingly neither an exhortation to wear eye protection nor sesame seeds. The ends of the breadstick dangled off the tiny bread plate like a modifier.

BreadWedge saladCaesar saladSpinach salad

The classic supper club salads here are meals in themselves. Rose's spinach salad had a fine dressing of warm bacon and brown sugar, with just enough red onion, tomato, and long strips of carrot for variety. Nichole was the lucky eater of what is probably the finest wedge salad in town: not only was it huge, but it made no bones about being a vehicle for gobs of French dressing and chunks of Roquefort. John's Caesar had a whole  anchovy and quality ribbons of Parmesan on top.

ShrimpRose got the shrimp, another lavish plate. Eight little monsters came fried in a decent breading, but through flukes of temperature or moisture, the insides of some of the breading remained gummy. A nice dab of horseradish garnished the cocktail sauce. The only other downside Rose cared to note was that the parsley was slightly wilted.

John's steak had outstanding flavor and tenderness. Likewise the filet JM and Nichole split was well-selected and prepared. That said, JM expected the best and wasn't blown away.

We all liked the hashbrowns, as well, but a bit of advice: if you split, keep the hashbrowns on the hot metal skillet to extend their appeal. These are peppered and salty, good and crispy outside.

The vegetable sides were outstanding. A side of asparagus coated with butter was perfect for an early spring meal. Roasted brussels sprouts reveling in lemon, butter, salt and breadcrumbs were enough to think maybe even a vegetarian would find plenty to enjoy at Tornado.

Pecan caramel torteAnd that was even before dessert. We got one slice of caramel cashew tart: sugary crust, nuts bound together with caramel, and a fudge topping, plus real whipped cream, that was very good.

JM liked the ambience and the service but felt Tornado needed something more to get the A, hence his A-. Nichole's not big on steakhouses in general, but Tornado would be the easiest to get her to revisit, hence her B+.

*This never happened. But we do have friends to thank for a WRA gift certificate that we used here. Thanks, friends.


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When last I went to Tornado I did something I never thought I'd do--I had fish. The Walleye was amazing.

The Frog legs were what I kept thinking about when I wanted to go back. :) I will get them EVERY time no matter what else I was am ordering. I have to have them.

I'm not big on steakhouses, either, but I think this is the best one in town. We've only gone on Saturdays because they have their prime rib special then - and it's something like $18 - one of the lowest-priced things on the menu. And it's a lot of food. In addition to the relish tray and the bread, you get a big thing of Yorkshire pudding with your steak (and potatoes, too, I believe) - all of it very good.

I've always been impressed with their salads and sides but have never had a great steak there, and that's supposed to be the point of a steakhouse. I gave up on Tornado.

I can give the vegetarian view of Tornado. I had the hashbrowns and green beans. They were both perfect. Some vegetarians would want something more. However, I love hashbrowns. I knew I was not eating a nutritiously balanced meal. Sometimes, I really don't care.

Ohhhhh, My FAVORITE!!! I miss their spinach salad (I substitute the french/roquefort dressing), biscuits, 8 oz tenderloin is the best steak I've ever had, and hash browns to die for. And onion rings. Yum um um um yummmmm!!!

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