Silver Spork Recommends Graze
I stood outside of Graze waiting for my friend to show up. There had been tons of tables at first, but a lot of people had come since then. When my friend showed up we found out that there was a thirty minute wait and put in our names, so we hopped next door to l’etoile for drinks. I don’t have the time to do a full review of l’etoile right now, but I promise you that the drinks are great and the bartenders are even better. Splendid people at l’etoile. I got the Root (Squared) and my friend got a classier concoction of wine. These drinks were absolutely worth it.
But we’re not here to write about drinks. We’re here to talk about Graze. While at l’etoile’s bar I received a pleasant text from the hostess saying that they were ready for us. We paid for our drinks and brought the glasses next door.
With cocktails in hand we started to peruse the menu. I’ve been looking for good bibimbap in the Madison area and Graze serves some here. They also have popcorn ($4) on the menu, which is weird to me. The snacks menu also has a pickle board, soft pretzel, deviled eggs (beautiful!). But I end up ordering the popcorn as our appetizer. My friend is pescatarian so she’s eyeing the seafood and eventually decides she wants the Artesian Farm Trout, served with scalloped rutabaga and potatoes, sautéed spinach, horseradish root, and vegetable slaw. And I’m still thinking about the Bibimbap or maybe the famed Graze Burger: fresh ground bacon, sirloin, ribeye, and short ribs, caramelized onions Worcestershire-cabernet jus, Swiss Emmental compound butter, sesame seed brioche, with fries and aioli.
When our waitress returns, my friend orders the trout ($24) and I stutter and spout out Rigatoni with Tomato Braised Lamb ($26), not Bibimbap ($14). Tragedy. The popcorn with black truffle oil and SarVecchio arrives. And it’s amazing. This is truly the best popcorn I’ve ever tasted, absolutely excellent.
Some glasses get knocked over, and then our main course is served.
My rigatoni was mixed amongst long carrots and lamb, all topped with a dollop of sheep’s milk cheese. I took it easy with the cheese, since I wanted it to last the whole meal. The lamb was tender and was easy to pick apart, which I’m a huge fan of. This makes it easy to find the perfect proportion of noodles, vegetables, and meat in every bite. At this point I’ve finished three or four glasses of water because the server is always there to refill my glass. The service at Graze is spectacular.
And the minimal design of the restaurant works well too. This is farm-to-table food prepared and consumed in a classy environment. They feature plenty of Wisconsin beers and had a wonderful list of cocktails, but we were already broke from l’etoile.
If you’re looking for a great meal in Madison, make sure to swing by Graze. I included some of the prices above just so you can be prepared for the cost. It’s not the cheapest restaurant, but it is very much worth it. Since Graze represents so much of the philosophy we support at Silver Spork News, expect more coverage of Graze in the future. If nothing else, I’ll certainly be stopping in for popcorn and drinks.
Post by Ian Sims. Photos from Yelp.