By Candice Wagener | Photos by Everyday Kitchen
A few great dining hot spots have debuted recently — despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Meet your newest Madison restaurants.
Fitting in on bustling Monroe Street, Fairchild plates up elegant dishes reminiscent of fine dining while maintaining “neighborhood joint” status. Owners Itaru Nagano and Andy Kroeger, both formerly of L’Etoile, are hyper-focused on creating a locally-driven menu.
Regular farmers’ market trips provide inspiration for dishes which are vegetable-forward. When they do choose their protein, favorites include pork from Enos Farms and Catering in Mount Horeb, duck from Blue Valley Gardens in Blue Mounds and cheese from Dreamfarm in Cross Plains. “We see what will make the vegetable shine,” says Nagano.
They’re following COVID-19 guidelines by keeping their team small, and offering ample space in both indoor and outdoor dining areas. They’ll keep their patio open through mid- October. Takeout and limited delivery are available. fairchildrestaurant.com
Jamie Hoang rose from the ashes of Sujeo to open her own spot with partner Chuckie Brown. Ahan, meaning food in Lao, is Hoang’s opportunity to serve up a collection of her favorites inspired by her childhood and extensive culinary career.
The Luang Prabang Khao Soi is an adaptation of her mom’s recipe. It’s a tomato and pork-based soup brimming with rice noodles, crispy rice, fried garlic, cilantro, scallions, chile oil and the earthy, umami flavors of fermented bean paste and chicken bone broth.
Occupying the small space at the front of the Bur Oak, a hip and cozy event venue on the east side, red and black walls with hints of gold and local art welcome you as you pick up your carryout order. A seat-yourself patio is available behind the building. facebook.com/ahanmadison608
SETTLE DOWN TAVERN
Owners Ryan Huber, Sam Parker, Brian Bartels and chef Joslyn Mink are providing an old-school experience in the heart of the trendy First Settlement district.
Burgers hold court. A double-patty smash burger with two slices of Butterkäse cheese, fried onions and housemade Settle sauce and pickles on a toasted potato bun is a Good Idea. The Prit’Near is their veggie burger, composed of oats, carrots, black beans and shiitake mushrooms, generously topped with herby chickpea mayo and turmeric pickled onions.
Settle Down is strictly adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Customers can opt for takeout, limited indoor dining or their outdoor streatery on Pinckney Street.
EVERYDAY KITCHEN MADISON
Everyday Kitchen brings a twist to Wisconsin favorites with a homey, yet sophisticated, vibe.
Classics like cheese curds are reinvented using white cheddar and served Buffalo-style. The fish fry is tempura-battered walleye enhanced with Spotted Cow. The menu is “our take on modern comfort cuisine,” says Margaret Ebeling, managing director for Lodgic Everyday Community (which oversees Everyday Kitchen). Opening during the pandemic allowed the staff to think about intentional planning of the space. Seating capacity is low and they’re brainstorming ways to extend the patio season. Contactless delivery and curbside pickup are available. Pre-shift wellness checks, 50-point safety checks and regular sanitizing are daily routines.
“We’ve taken the risk that COVID-19 poses very seriously and we’re doing all that we can to ensure a low-risk experience for our guests and staff,” says Ebeling. everydaykitchen.com/madison-wi
DARKHORSE BY SAL’S
Nestled within Madison’s music district on East Washington Avenue, DarkHorse has a punk rock vibe and eclectic menu.
Owners Patrick DePula, Jed Spink and John Jerabek are having fun getting creative in the kitchen.
Fans of DePula’s Salvatore’s Tomato Pies (with locations in Madison, Monona and Sun Prairie) can also feel at home at DarkHorse, or step out of their comfort zone with options like vegan Szechuan meatballs and five-spice brisket rigatoni. Eggplant fries with harissa vinaigrette and yogurt mint sauce have been a popular summer special.
The dining room has a clubby vibe with its ceiling covered in 5,300 CD pieces and red light bulbs. (Tables are spaced out indoors, per health guidelines.) The outdoor patio space offers more seating, as well as live musicians on weekends.
“I think that Madison has reached the point where we can support an eclectic restaurant that plays a lot of punk rock,” says DePula.
Please contact individual restaurants for the most up-to-date information.