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Ingrid's LunchBox (cart)

Update 8/9/12: Ingrid's Lunchbox is closed.

In a word: Puts the cart before the farm.

The specs: #0687 
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Madison Street Eats, Yelp, Dane101; official web site, Twitter.

Latest Ingrid's LunchBox news and reviews

JM ate the farmer biscuit: ham, cheddar and salsa (#57).
Nichole ate the farmer crepe: bacon, asparagus, and green onion.
The bill was $12, or $6/person, plus tip.
JM gave Ingrid's LunchBox a B+; Nichole gave Ingrid's LunchBox an A- (see our grading rubric).


It took us a while to catch up to Ingrid's, one of the most recognized and recognizable carts in Madison. It appeared on the list sometime in spring 2010 with a batch of other food carts, but when we got around to it during our make-ups to letter R, Art Fair on the Square displaced it; it was winter when we did the make-ups to S, so no carts got got; so it was finally in the make-ups to T when we came around. The wait was worth it.

The menu is short - basically a choice of biscuit or crepe with a couple combinations of ingredients - but there's a build-your-own "farmer" option. (More on the build-your-own effect later.) Our stuff was served up even faster than the line at Johnson Bros. Coffee moved, but once we had breakfast, coffee and cocoa in hand, we sat in a bus shelter and dug in.

Nichole picked a bacon, asparagus, and green onion crepe. The crepe was sturdy and surprisingly sweet. We're guessing there's one batch of batter, and it's better to have a sweet crepe with vegetables and cheese than a savory crepe with Nutella and bananas. The combination grew on her. The asparagus was thin and exquisitely tender. The bacon was also on the sweet side and sometimes stringy where it had not been cut all the way through; the eggs were well-peppered and, if anything, a little overdone, but that made for easier table-free eating.

JM was happy with the biscuit, though the salsa was nearly plain diced tomato. The ham and cheese were both good, the ham cut in a large dice and the cheddar shredded for easy melting, and there was plenty of egg.

So, build-your-own: there's always a temptation to build your own sandwich at a place that allows it because you will be able to choose exactly what you want.  And while we can determine if a restaurant uses good ingredients, that's about all that will tell us.  There are many examples in the history of A to Z (MiaZa's, Pita Pit) where the best meal was had by the person who eschewed the menu and just built it themselves. 

On the other hand, build it yourself seems like a lazy menu option, even for sandwich and pizza places. We like it better when a place makes some staple sandwiches or slices to start from, and it's generally good to be able to add or hold certain things, but give us some guidance. Use your culinary ingenuity to explain to the customers why they are here and not at the supermarket. To be clear, it's not that Ingrid's doesn't offer signature items, but our breakfast got us thinking about the whole continuum of customer and vendor input.

Before Bradbury's turned crepes into a brick and mortar success and even before farm to table was all over the square, Ingrid's was where you could get farm ingredients prepped and ready to eat - and that's always worth a visit.


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Ingrid's has great breakfast food after a long morning of strolling around the farmers market. get there early because they do run out of ingredients. Try the spicy hollandaise sauce on a biscuit.

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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

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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