Get your stretchy pants on because the winter edition of Madison Restaurant Week starts Sunday, Jan. 20 and runs through Friday, Jan. 25. There’s 49 restaurants participating this time around, and they all offer a $25-$35 prix fixe dinner menu. Some also have a $15 lunch deal.
If there’s one thing Wisconsinites love more than a good deal, it’s cheese. Lucky for us, many of those 49 restaurants decided on a cheese-heavy menu, so we get good cheese on a budget. I went through the slog of checking out every single restaurant’s menu in order to find the best, cheesiest offerings. Here they are, for all your dairy needs.
Avenue Club and The Bubble Up Bar: Loaded grilled cheese with havarti and provolone on cheesy jalapeno bread.
Buck & Honey’s: Sassy curds.
Eldorado Grill: Four cheese ancho relleno, a roasted sweet pepper stuff with 4 cheeses and fried in blue cornmeal.
Freiburg Tap House: Beer cheese soup make with Hacker-Pschorr; poutine with schnitzel, cheese curds and mushroom gravy.
Heritage Tavern: Charcuterie and cheese plate with pickled and raw vegetables, foraged mushroom hummus and grilled scallion buttermilk.
Merchant: Fried Cedar Grove cheese curds, classic or buffalo style; pork pappardelle with tomato ragu, homemade ricotta cheese and SarVecchio; Wisconsin cheeses for dessert (that’s a full cheese meal).
Nonno’s Ristorante Italiano: Pollo alla parmigiana with parmesan and mozzarella.
Oliver’s Public House: Short rib mac and cheese with three-cheese sauce.
Paisan’s: Toasted spicy cheese bread; meatball parmesan sandwich; manicotti or cannelloni with tomato or cheese sauce; cannoli with ricotta filling (another trifecta!).
Porta Bella: Cannelloni-manicotti combo with spinach and cheese; five cheese ravioli with tomato or alfredo sauce; beef tenderloin and portobello mushrooms in gorgonzola sauce; toasted almond cake filled with mascarpone cream.
Quivey’s Grove Stone House: Wisconsin raclette with Roth Kase Raclette cheese.
Rare Steakhouse: Beef tagliatelle with mushrooms, butternut squash, mascarpone and ricotta.
Smitty’s Study Pub: Charcuterie and cheese board; chicken roulade stuffed with brie, apple and prosciutto.
Smoky’s Club: Lobster mac and cheese with four cheeses.
Steenbock’s on Orchard: Root vegetable beer cheese soup; goat cheese croquettes; four cheese mac and cheese with grilled chicken; broccoli and cheddar stuffed chicken breast.
Tavernakaya: Tempura cheese curds with spicy mayo and togarashi powder; spicy rack of lamb with a crispy sushi rice cheese ball (good showing by a Japanese restaurant).
The Thirsty Goat: Spicy cheese curds; harvest goat cheese salad.
The Tin Fox: Pancake battered cheese curds with maple syrup.
Once you’ve made your strategic cheese plan, consider making reservations, because Restaurant Week can get busy. Then, go forth and behold the power of cheese.