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Tipsy Cow

Tipsy CowIn a word: More Wisconsin regional food that could be more Wisconsin regional.

The specs: #0709
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; reviews at Madison Fish Fry, 77 Square, Yelp, Musings from America's Dairyland, A.V. Club, Isthmus, Wisconsin State Journal, The Mad Samplers; listing at Eat Drink Madison; opening announcement at Madison Dining Online; chatter at Chowhound and TDPF; Facebook, Tipsy Cow on Urbanspoon

Latest Tipsy Cow news and reviews

JM ate the grilled ham and cheese with a lemonade and a brownie sundae for dessert.
Jon ate the Tipsy burger and split the Black Cow float.
Kristin ate the kielbasa with a beer.
Nichole ate the slaw dog, tomato soup, and a Lakefront Bridge Burner with a marcona almond chocolate chip cookie for dessert.
We split some pretzels and chili fries.
The bill was about $15/person, plus tip.
Jon gave Tipsy Cow a B; JM, Kristin, and Nichole gave Tipsy Cow a B+ (see our grading rubric).

It was a summer night out on the town.  We ended up at Tipsy during a Concert on the Square entirely by accident (this would happen once more this season). This worked out well, as the concert and crowd noise masked the clicking of the WALK sign that helps pedestrians but menaces diners on the patio. We noticed that a food cart vendor was charging $2 more at their COTS location than they did at their regular spot, and let ourselves feel a little smug about that.

We arrived at the J-Kwon-inated Bovine shortly after their opening and during happy hour.  So, we can report that 1) we may not have gotten a good sense of the service (which on our visit was somewhere between Jupiter and Saturn, as in "kinda spacy") 2) we got a good deal on half price sausages and beer.  The beer list is not super- impressive (which is a bit of a shame given their location) but it's fine.

Pretzels and cheese and mustardTomato soup with cheese curdsChili cheese fries

The starters were pretty good.  The tomato soup was creamy, spicy and topped with melting white cheese curds. The fries were"definitely a winner," with a crisp beer batter that held up well against a pleasantly spicy, meaty, yet too-2-beany chili. The beans were black and possibly chili or kidney with a sharp white cheddar sauce that stayed gooey and supple. The pretzels were served with a nice side of the white cheddar cheese sauce and a nicer side of mustard; with a perfectly-baked outside and extensive chewiness throughout they were also a great starter.

KielbasaSlaw dog

The half-price sausages were indeed fine.  The slaw dog was presented with pickles on a toasted bun. We can't do a better job writing up its drool-inducing deliciousness than Stephanie Bedford did.  Meanwhile Kristin noted that the kielbasa was surprisingly large and the skin was just a bit snappy. The sauerkraut, while homemade, was not quite crunchy enough to support the meat/kraut balance. The bun held up well, but the whole deal could have used more mustard.

Tipsy burgerGrilled ham and cheese

On the meat-between-breads front, Tipsy Cow is pretty average too.  The burger patty is from Knoche's, who do a great job.  The cheese and bacon were well-presented but entirely standard. The Tipsy sauce was hard to define, and the whole thing ended up pretty messy because the bun didn't entirely hold the line it the grease and cheese battle.  The ham & cheese (#61) was grilled and nicely crunchy and even with the whole grain bread, the ham flavor really pervaded.  JM was not too big a fan of the sweet pickles, though.

Chocolate chip and Marcona almond cookieBrownie a la mode

Desserts were had.  JM's brownie sundae was nicely doused in caramel and disappeared fast, but was none too exciting.  In addition, Nichole's cookie was an attempt to see if the one from King & Mane had migrated to the Tipsy Cow menu.  It turns out that the cookie has gotten bigger (too much bigger) and the batter:chocolate ratio is not what it used to be.

The Black Cow float is a novel mix of flavors (chocolate ice cream and cream soda, where most recipes call for root beer) but would have been better with a local cream soda instead of A&W, which was a little light.  The no-name ice cream (why not Babcock, Chocolate Shoppe, Michael's, or heck, Schoep's?) in this pairing overpowered the cream soda, giving it an icy full nelson as the glass filled with foam.

Black cow

Tipsy Cow is about average cuisine for the square where it may have difficulty standing out from the other more established pub-type places.  If they can cash in on being the Old Fashioned That's Not Busy, they just might make it.

With thanks to Kristin for her detailed notes for this post.


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Nice summary. Pretty much my experience.

I've heard it called--to my enjoyment--the New Fashioned.

Also, I will post on every review/comment/discussion of the Tipsy Cow that it would not be such a stretch to retain the PBR-battered tilapia taco from the K&M days on this Wisconsinny menu. It's PBR, guys. Come on.

I was there last weekend & ordered the Tipsy Chicken, grilled. The menu said 'bakery roll,' yet it was on a sub-par hamburger bun that didn't hold up well at all to the chicken. The truffle fries are delicious, but I wish they would cut the serving in 1/2 and charge 1/2 the price. Between 2 people, we barely dented the mountain of fries. Overall, I'd say it's a bit overpriced for what you actually get... however we only ordered sandwiches and not sausages.

I'll add that my experience was very similar as well. I liked the ham and cheese sandwich quite well though toward the end the mustard got a bit overpowering. My sister got the tomato soup but I was the only person in the group that liked it, which worked great for me as got to finish it for her. The clacking from the crosswalk was a bit annoying at first but it faded into the background after a while. My main complaint was with the service. Our server started off great and she got our first round of drinks and our food order in quickly. Then I never saw her again. Other staff brought out the food and we never did get a chance to order a second round of drinks. We would have left with a favorable impression if not for the service, but as it stands we haven't really made any effort to return.

Their turkey sandwich is actually amazing. I keep considering trying something else, but it is too good.

I've heard some grumbles about this place, but I'll be honest----I love that they're doing good Wisconsin junk food right. King and Mane had an identity crisis of sorts but wasn't bad. They're just doing good straight-forward burger and cheese curds with local brews. It's definitely similar to the Old Fashioned, but I'd recommend coming here to anyone who's told they'll have an hour and fifteen minute wait for a hamburger and a Spotted Cow at the Fashioned on a Friday night. A negligible difference.

That's a good point... it took FOREVER to get our food, and we were the only people eating there. Waitstaff was chatting amongst themselves, and it wasn't until about 8 minutes after ordering a beer that I was told they were out of the variety I had ordered.

I had the same experience with a beer order. We waited at least 20 minutes for our drinks before the waitress came back to report that they were out of the beer that three of us ordered. That didn't bode well for future rounds so we just bailed completely. I won't waste time returning.

PBR tacos are back! All day every Thursday. Back by popular demand...come in and enjoy!

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