Waunakee brewery has potential with unique menu

The owner told me they named the brewery The Lone Girl because they have several kids, but only one daughter.

Brew pubs are the new thing in the restaurant business. It seems like everyone wants to brew their own beer and serve food while offering a casual atmosphere for dinner or a place to watch the game. And trust me, I’m not mad at it. I love a good brew pub, but the key word there is good. There are so many of them popping up all over the Madison area that each place is going to have to offer something unique or better to bring me back. The Lone Girl in Waunakee didn’t do that with its service, but the food was good and it does have a good location and a rooftop dining room so I’ll probably be back.

I went to Lone Girl on a Saturday in November with a friend. We decided to stop in quick for lunch while we were hitting all the little shops up there, but I think we picked the wrong day. The place was packed with kids and parents — all of them wearing the same T-shirt from a charity walk/run. It turned out that Lone Girl was a big sponsor of the race so we assumed race participants were getting some sort of deal. Surprisingly we got seated right away, but that’s where it went downhill. It took almost 15 minutes for someone to bring us water and menus, and then when we finally did order (two pretty simple dishes if you ask me), it took another 45 minutes to get our food. I’m not sure if the wait seemed horrible because I was starving or because the place was so busy and loud, but by the time our food came I was not happy.

Let’s go back to the menu for a minute. For a brew pub, it has an odd menu. They have the standards you would expect: nachos, house-made potato chips, cheese curds, a burger, fish fry and a chicken sandwich. But then they add in hush puppies, albondigas (which are fancy meatballs), and what  I got — a chicken Caesar salad with grilled chicken and grilled romaine lettuce. Even some of their standards have an odd twist, like the nachos that can come chilaquiles style and their version of chicken wings that come with a tropical fruit pico de gallo. It’s hard to decide which direction the menu is going — which usually doesn’t bode well for the food because in my experience, an unfocused menu means a kitchen doesn’t know how to do anything well.

img_3869But my salad proved my assumptions wrong. Now granted, it was a simple chicken Caesar salad, but it was very tasty. The chicken was perfectly grilled and not dry. The romaine lettuce was also grilled to perfection — I love grilled lettuce! If you haven’t had it…try it. The house-made dressing was flavorful but not too heavy or prevalent on the salad, and the croutons were garlicky as promised. Other than the time I had to wait to get my salad, I was very pleased with my meal.

img_3868My friend got the buffalo chicken sandwich, which she said was good but the chicken had basically no buffalo flavor (I tried it and totally agreed). It retrospect — that was very odd since the chicken had an orange tint to it, which should indicate a buffalo spice. So odd! The sandwich came with a mix of regular and sweet potato fries, which is an awesome option for people who don’t like deciding between the two. Both types were crispy and appropriately salty.

FOOD NOTES: The Lone Girl Brewery proved to have potential during my first visit. Putting aside the odd menu options and slow service, I was very happy with my meal. I’m going to chalk the service up to the special event that was happening, but beware if you go on a busy night…it might be the same slowdown. The menu — although heading in a bunch of different directions — seems to have an option for everyone and there are things I would go back to try. The food was good enough to bring me back on its own, but if I’m being honest, I’ll probably go back for the rooftop seating because who doesn’t love eating outside in the summer on a roof!

Mac’s is so good it deserves a second post

MACSI reviewed Mac’s in Sun Prairie in March and I loved it. But I’ve been back several times since then and I feel like I need to reiterate how great their mac and cheese is.

MACS mac daddyThe first time I went I got the loaded baked potato mac and cheese…it is rich, creamy and super indulgent. The potatoes, sour cream and bacon added a great layer to the mac and cheese.

MACs trio

Loaded baked potato mac and cheese
Loaded baked potato mac and cheese
Chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese
Chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese

The second time I went I got to try the buffalo chicken mac and cheese and the chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese. I also got a second crack at the loaded baked potato mac and cheese. The loaded baked potato mac and cheese was just as great as the first time, but it was upstaged by the chicken bacon ranch mac. There’s just something this Wisconsin girl loves about ranch dressing drizzled on top of mac and cheese. It was a genius move to put chicken and bacon on fantastic mac and cheese and then drizzle it with ranch dressing.

Buffalo chicken mac and cheese
Buffalo chicken mac and cheese

I also got to try the buffalo chicken mac and cheese, which I didn’t think I’d like but it was surprisingly good. The buffalo chicken wasn’t too spicy, and the tanginess of the sauce cut the heaviness of the mac and cheese perfectly. And the blue cheese (which I normally don’t like) didn’t over power anything. It also comes garnished with celery, which makes it seem healthier…haha!

The third time I went, I got the chicken bacon ranch mac again but made my mom get the Memphis mac (sorry…I forgot to take pics!), which comes topped with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and fried slices of onion. I’ve heard shredded BBQ pork is great with mac and cheese and boy were those people not kidding. The pork was perfectly tender and the sauce was tangy with just the right amount of kick. I loved my chicken bacon ranch mac…but I did go back for seconds, thirds and maybe fourths of my mom’s Memphis mac.

FOOD NOTES: I’ve decided that you could top mac and cheese with pretty much anything and I would eat it. And Mac’s knows what they’re doing. I’ve officially tried four of their versions and would suggest any of them. My favorite has to be the chicken bacon ranch, followed by a two-way tie for second — Memphis mac and loaded baked potato mac. Mac’s is, in my opinion, the best spot to indulge in some great mac and cheese with fantastic toppings. I want to try other flavors, but don’t think I could pass up my favorites…anyone want to go with me so I can try the type you get?!?!