There was a strong sense of anticipation as I took the elevator up to Camp Trippalindee, the Graduate Hotel’s new bar and restaurant that recently took the place of The Madison Blind. It’s the same feeling you had on the long car ride to summer camp, and the payoff is just as exciting.
I was instantly greeted with the sights of a classic Wisconsin cabin. Fish mounts hang on warm wallpaper, and canoes swing overhead in soft lighting. There are plenty of nods to the history of the University of Wisconsin and also Grand Lakes University, the fictional college in Back to School, the Rodney Dangerfield-starring movie that was partially filmed in Madison.
One such tongue-in-cheek inclusion is the No Respect board game featuring a line from one of Dangerfield’s famous stand-up routines. Classic games like Battleship and Jenga are also available for patrons to play.
While The Madison Blind was a restaurant that had a bar, the bar is the focus of Camp Trippalindee. Food and drinks are available through counter service instead of wait staff. If you order food you will receive a pager to alert you when your order is ready.
The food menu is concise. Sandwiches include a Heritage Farm hot dog ($5) and a double decker cheeseburger ($9), but the staff favorite is the crispy spicy chicken sandwich ($9) with kimchee slaw, bacon and jalapeño ranch. Sides, like sweet potato wedges with smoked chili mayo, are available for $5 to bulk up your meal. Shared plates like salads and cheese curds come in wooden bowls that will remind UW alumni of Gordon Commons.
With a tight focus on drinks, the goal is to create consistent, quality cocktails. The bar’s old fashioned ($10) isn’t the typical Wisconsin cocktail. It is made with Old Grand Dad bourbon and a house-made syrup that originated at the Graduate Hotel in Oxford, Miss. Two cocktails are barrel-aged: a negroni and a Manhattan, both of which are aged for 30 days.
For something more unique, a throwback camp favorite has been made into an adult drink perfect for a hot summer day. Boozy capris, a grown-up version of a Capri Sun, come in two flavors: bug juice and Sconnie juice ($8), both made with vodka, pineapple juice and liqueurs. They are served in a pouch with, naturally, a bendable straw. And for those who snuck beer into camp instead of vodka, there are four local brews on tap.
No trip to camp is complete without s’mores, so purchase a s’mores kit ($4) and roast marshmallows over the outdoor fire pit. You can grab a roasting stick from the cooler next to the patio door. Just resist the urge to use them as dueling swords — you don’t want to get kicked out of this camp.
Check out some additional photos below.