There’s more than chocolate to this quaint cafe

choco menuA friend of mine got married Friday and the week before her nuptials we decided to have lunch. She is a bit chocolate and sweets fan so when I heard about this new cafe on the near east side I knew it would be perfect for us. I mean, it has chocolate in the name! Chocolaterian Cafe opened almost a year ago at its Atwood location. I’ve been frequenting Atwood for a couple of years and I’m really glad the building at 2004 Atwood Avenue finally has tenants. It’s a really neat old building and the cafe definitely took advantage of the building’s features. There are two entrances (because the building is on a pointed corner), there are a bunch of neat built-ins, and the color choices were unique and appropriately fun. The decor was modest but fun with the main wall behind the bakery counter filled with antique chocolate molds.

choco macaroonsThe cafe features bakery items but also offers lunch items. There are regular items that frequent the bakery case and daily specials. Recently I’ve been obsessed with french macaroons so when I saw them in the display I knew I had to get them. They had a decent amount of flavor options and for $5 you got three. That’s a pretty regular price but the size of the macaroons was smaller than normal. I got the lemon vanilla, raspberry and pistachio. All three were very tasty! My friend got a chocolate tart that I’m pretty sure she loved because it was 100% dense chocolate. She did recommend they edge the top of the tart with fresh whipped cream instead of chocolate cream to make it a little less rich. The bakery case was filled with two other flavors of tarts, a half dozen different types of cookies, and a couple other decadent desserts. The also had fondue on the menu!

choco tarteThey offer two types of quiche and paninis daily as well as a cheese plate, soups and salads. They also offered regular coffee and tea options. I got the grilled chicken Caesar salad. It was very fresh and there was the perfect amount of dressing on top. It came with a full chicken breast but I was a little disappointed in the size of the total salad for the price (it was $8.50 for a small plate a lettuce, a couple tomatoes, and the chicken). My friend got the cheese plate, which came with three Wisconsin cheeses, crackers and jam. The odd thing about the cheese plate is that it didn’t say on the menu or the plate what type of cheeses they were. She enjoyed the cheese plate and that’s probably what I’ll get next time I go. That is if I’m not interested in the panini or quiche combinations again.

FOODNOTES: The location is great and the decor/ambiance is even better! The macaroons were good but could have been larger. Ditto for my salad. The cheese plate needs labels but was very impressive. I definitely plan to go back for coffee and baked goods (and will hopefully bring some home)!

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Night Owl serves up impressive pub food

Evansville had a city-wide garage sale last week so a couple friends and I decided to go down there and shop. After driving around to the houses for a couple hours we decided to scour the downtown shops. They have three or four blocks of downtown shops. There are a couple vintage shops, some re-purposing shops, a consignment shop, and a kitchen store. It’s a really cute downtown. All of the buildings are historical and the road in those couple of blocks is brick! One of my friends started asking the locals where a good place to get lunch would be. They suggested a sub shop called Rock ‘N Rollz, a cafe, and the Night Owl sports bar. We were considering all three locations but settled on the Night Owl, probably because I bought these incredibly heaving UW cast iron bookends and the Night Owl was the closest place when we got hungry!

night owl burger

Ardy’s Special burger

It’s a cute building on the outside but I got kind of worried when we walked in and it looked like a junky Wisconsin bar. I was pretty hungry so we decided to take the chance. After looking at the menu I was less concerned. They had standard bar food but they also had some really good restaurant specialties. The house burger, Ardy’s Special, sounded amazing with three different types of cheese, and grilled mushrooms and onions. Two of us got the Ardy’s Special and my other friend got a chicken BBQ sandwich. The fries come on the side so we split an order of beer battered and an order of cajun fries.

When the food came we were pleasantly surprised at the portions. The fries were extra but the menu didn’t mention that the sandwiches come with potato chips regularly. I’m not sure if the chips were homemade but they were very good! The beer battered fries were better than some with a great crispiness and very little grease. The cajun fries were also good with the perfect amount of salty spice and again very little grease.

The Ardy’s Special was a great choice! The burger was a good size and perfectly cooked but what made the burger so exceptional were the toppings. The three cheeses were thick and wonderfully melted. The onions and mushrooms were flavorful and plentiful. The burger and fries were an amazing deal for the portion and flavor!

FOODNOTES: The decor is simple but don’t let that fool you. The prices are amazing and burgers are just as good. The service was also impressive. Evansville is about a 30 minute drive from Madison so I won’t be a regular but I would definitely go back  if I’m in the area.