Brunch Club may need time to excel past donuts

brunch club coffee
Brunch Club coffee

There are a lot of restaurants on my list that have been open since before I moved to Madison, but the new breakfast-focused Food Fight restaurant on campus landed on my must-visit-soon list. Food Fight rarely gets anything wrong so I made a plan with a friend to try it out. The Bassett Street Brunch Club opened this fall in the newly built Hampton Inn on the corner of Bassett and Johnson streets in downtown Madison. The Brunch Club definitely fits into the downtown boutique feel of the Hampton Inn with modern cement floors and walls, fun patterned booths and bright colored accents throughout. The menu consists of traditional breakfast options, coffee, brunch drinks, homemade donuts, and then they have lunch and dinner menu options. I started with a cup of the Colectivo Coffee they serve. I love that it comes in a big mug instead of those tiny cups most diners offer. The coffee was very good and our waitress kept it full the entire time!

brunch club donut
Brunch Club chocolate hazelnut donut

I heard their donuts were homemade and they offer three or four different flavors each day. We decided to split one of the chocolate hazelnut donuts before our breakfasts came. They definitely know what they’re doing on the donut front. The donut itself was perfectly fluffy and not at all greasy. The chocolate topping was better than generic chocolate frosting, but  what made the donut were the huge chunks of hazelnut covering the entire top of the donut. It was definitely worth the $1.50!

brunch club hash
Brunch Club corned beef hash

For breakfast, there are two dishes I use to measure a restaurant’s quality – eggs benedict and corned beef hash. The eggs benedict on the menu has a lot of non-traditional toppings, so I opted for the homemade hash. The hash came with two eggs and toast (I usually splurge on toast at restaurants but their jam was unexpectedly bitter so I didn’t finish my slices). Based on the size of the donut I was expecting the breakfast portions to be a bit larger than the cup of hash and two pieces of toast I got. The eggs were cooked perfectly but the hash was basically flavorless even though it had chunks of red peppers and onions. Basically, other than the donut, I wasn’t very impressed with my breakfast.

brunch club pancakes
Brunch Club lemon ricotta pancakes

My friend got the lemon ricotta pancakes. She liked them but I thought they were too lemony and kind of mushy. She also got a side of breakfast potatoes (we also kind of measure a restaurant’s quality based on the quality of their breakfast potatoes), and these weren’t very good. Like my hash, the breakfast potatoes were practically flavorless too.

brunch club potatoes
Brunch Club breakfast potatoes

FOODNOTES: The Brunch Club is in a great location and has a fun funky vibe. Our waitress was absolutely stellar, but it wasn’t very busy when we were there and the hostess seemed to awkwardly wander and make unnecessary small talk. The donut and coffee were the highlights of the meal. I didn’t like the lemon ricotta pancakes but my friend did, and my corned beef hash was completely flavorless. They have a ton of dishes on their menu and I really hope some of their lunch or dinner options are better. I would like to give their meatloaf, pot pie or the fried chicken and donuts a try. Hopefully they still have homemade donuts to get as an appetizer when I go to try their dinner options! I really want to like this place so I will give it a couple more chances!

Paoli Local Foods a hidden gem in small Southern WI town

I found this little gem last summer at a volunteer event for work and have wanted to try their breakfast ever since. Paoli (there’s some dissent among friends and co-workers on whether it is pronounced Paol-e or Paol-i) is a very small unincorporated chunk of buildings 10 minutes south of Fitchburg. It is on the way to Belleville, Albany, New Glaurus, and other small tourist towns in southern Wisconsin but definitely warrants a stop on its own. There are about a dozen little shops along less than a mile stretch of county highway and even less options to eat. All of this centers around a bike trail and scenery along the Sugar River. There are art galleries that have cafes, a cheese shop (which is extremely over priced and not true to Wisconsin cheese makers), a fancier restaurant in the old school house, and the Paoli Pub. I’ve hear good things about all of these options the best place to eat in Paoli is the least talked about, Paoli Local Foods. Paoli Local Foods started out as a Locavore grocery store where the owners sold their organic produce, canned goods, dairy, and meat. The grocery store and cafe focuses on organic and local ingredients with a majority of the produce and meat coming from their farm. I’m not sure when the owners decided to include a small cafe in the back but it was a smart decision.

ImageThe building is very deceiving and could pass as a storage shed but when you walk in you are greeted by the smell of coffee, smoked meats, and fresh baked pies. The dining room, with it’s miss-matched tables and chairs, is very small and simple. We were seated and served by the owner who was very nice and was clearly excited about his cafe! He boasted about his amazing Roesti potatoes that are a Swedish side dish and they were amazing. First off, the coffee was amazing. I’m a typical coffee junkie and can drink anything as long as it’s dark and hot but his coffee had a very smooth and unique flavor. I could drink that coffee every day. The breakfast menu looked the most promising with a traditional salad and sandwich lunch menu, and an interesting array of options for dinner. Off the breakfast menu I got the traditional Eggs Benedict with the Roesti potatoes and my mom got the Bacon Cheddar Quiche.

Mom loved the Bacon Cheddar Quiche but my Eggs Benedict with Roesti potatoes was amazing. I’m pretty sure the english muffin was homemade and the hollandaise sauce was somehow extremely light and flavorful at the same time. The Roesti potatoes were hashbrowns mixed with swiss cheese and onions and served extremely crispy. I was expected the potatoes to be greasy but they were the perfect compliment to the light hollandaise sauce on my plate!

ImageIn addition to our amazing breakfast my mom decided it was necessary to buy an entire pie. The apple pie sitting in the case when we walked in looked like a small masterpiece with crust decorations and a sprinkling of sugar. I’m not the biggest fan of fruit pies but a good apple pie can definitely change my mind. I generally don’t like apple pies because the apples are mushy and taste like cinnamon and sugar goo. This apple pie’s crust was extremely flaky and buttery but the filing was my favorite. The apples were perfectly cooked because they still had a little crunch. The filling was the perfect balance of sweetness and there wasn’t too much of the goo, which tasted exactly like homemade applesauce. I loved this apple pie and would recommend buying an entire pie because one piece wouldn’t be enough.

FOODNOTES: you have to make the short trek from Madison to Paoli to try their food, I would suggest this place for any of the breakfast options especially the coffee, they take credit but prefer cash, if there’s a pie you’re interested in buy the whole thing and not just one piece.