Verona Woods shouldn’t be overlooked for lunch

Have you seen that new development just south east of Verona on Highway M across the street from Wisconsin Brewing Company? Well if you haven’t it’s because you haven’t been over there. On my last pass through that area there were at least five buildigs, most of them housing multiple businesses, and a couple still being built. I believe there are two new restaurants and a winery. The Verona Woods is one of those new restaurants over there.

front seating

When I met a friend over there for lunch a couple months ago the bar area and most of the dining room was empty — except a large group of ladies having some sort of luncheon/meeting. We were seated fast and our waiter was extremely helpful and friendly, but with that large group they could have used more staff.

dusty fries

The lunch menu is pretty standard…appetizers, soup, salad, sandwiches and burgers. We both decided to get a salad and split an order of dusty fries — fries dusted in house dry rub served with remoulade dipping sauce. The fries were very tasty — crispy and hot with a good spice from the dry rub. The dipping sauce was a good creamy balance for the dry rub with a touch of sweetness. The fries were definitely a good addition to our salad choices.

charred beet salad with chicken

I got the charred beet and goat cheese salad — minus the goat cheese and add chicken. The half salad itself is a bit small, but the amount of chicken you get makes up for it. The salad was arugula, baby spinach, charred red and golden beets, shaved fennel, honey dipped almonds, chickpeas and a toasted almond vinaigrette. It all worked very well together — the spiciness from the arugula, the sweet from the honey dipped amonds and the tang from the vinaigrette. The chicken breast was juicy and well worth the extra $3 to add.

My friend also ordered a cup of soup, but she never got it so our server brought us this tasty dessert. I don’t 100% remember what it was, but I do remember none of it was left when we were done.

FOOD NOTES: The Verona Woods is a great addition to the Verona area. Keep it in mind for a lunch spot if you need something out in that area. I’d like to give some of their entrees — like a pasta or steak dish — a try. Also…huge props to our waiter for managing that big group and then making up for the forgotten soup with an amazing dessert!

Cookhouse offers takeout with local ingredients

cookhouse sign

cookhouse

front counter

Based on the size of the Jordandal Cookhouse this blog should be super short but I have a surprisingly large amount to say about this tiny take-out restaurant in Verona. Jordandal Farms is known in the Madison area for locally-raised meat that they sell at farmers’ markets. But last year they opened a takeout restaurant in Verona that I have been excited to try for a while. It is a small little entry-way  in a strip mall with a chalkboard menu, a front counter and two large coolers. The chalkboard menu lists a couple different options (mostly sandwiches) that all come with a side.

cookhouse menu

menu board

There were a couple intriguing options but I have a thing for braunschweiger, so I couldn’t pass up the braunschweiger sandwich. It comes on rye bread with red onion, cheese and sweet and spicy mustard! That’s the exact way I make my braunschweiger sandwiches except I add tomato. For those of you who don’t know what braunschweiger is – it is a type of liverwurst that definitely takes an open mind and requires an acquired taste to enjoy it, but for some reason I love it! Most store-bought braunschweiger is kind of greasy and doesn’t have a great flavor, but every once in a while I find a good one that is lean and has a good combination of spices. The braunschweiger at the cookhouse is just that – lean with a great flavor of spices! It was a great sandwich and the mustard was the perfect compliment for the strong braunschweiger flavor. I will definitely be back for this sandwich!

cookhouse braunschweiger

braunschweiger sandwich

cookhouse burger

patty melt

My mom got the patty melt that comes on rye bread with bacon, mayo, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. The sandwich was a nice size and had a good amount of ingredients on it, but it was dripping in grease. They must butter both pieces of bread before they toast them, making it so greasy we couldn’t taste the onions, cheese, mayo or bacon over the dripping butter. After I got sick of eating butter slathered bread I took it apart and ate the pieces separately, and to my surprise the beef patty was very good. The burger was nice and juicy but not greasy itself, and had a great seasoned flavor. The patty melt could be a fantastic sandwich if they would reconsider the amount of butter used to toast the bread.

cookhouse sides

sweet potato salad, cheese and salami

For our sides we chose a cold sweet potato salad and salami/cheese. The cheese and salami were very fresh and as far as we could tell (and with some digging from the girl working at the time), the salami is nitrate free. The cheese was a sharp brick cheese that matched the dry salami perfectly. The sweet potato salad was interesting. It was slightly mashed sweet potatoes with onions and some small pieces of bacon with a slightly sweet flavor. I’m not sure what they use to flavor the salad but I really liked that it was doused in dressing.

cookhouse sandwiches

wrapped sandwiches

FOODNOTES: The biggest thing to remember is that this is a carry-out place. There are no tables inside, but if it is a nice day out/summer, there are some picnic tables outside you can use. The girl working said the cookhouse also sells packaged meat and serves as a pickup location for meat orders. If you go, avoid the patty melt because the amount of butter they use overwhelms all of the other flavors. If you’re up for it…try the traditional Wisconsin braunschweiger sandwich. Some of the dinner specials listed that day (we couldn’t get them because we were there at lunch) looked very good; they had house stew, Wisconsin mac and cheese, and brisket — all worthy of being ordered I’m sure! Another interesting thing about the menu are the different culinary influences present – they have Korean BBQ and pork tacos on the daily menu. I’m not sure you could go wrong with any of their sides, but they do offer a homemade butterscotch pudding I’d like try next time I’m there. Prices are slightly higher than average but remember, you are paying for locally-raised meat on your sandwiches or for your dinner. Also, this isn’t a very vegetarian-friendly place, but they do offer a grilled cheese and their mac and cheese without the sausage.