Don’t fail like me…get the BBQ at the Thirsty Goat

Thirsty Goat on Cahill Main

So there’s a new barbecue restaurant in Fitchburg and I hate to admit that I didn’t actually get BBQ on my first visit. The good news — everything I got was tasty so I’ll be heading back soon to try the BBQ. The Thirsty Goat on Cahill Main in Fitchburg took over an old Mexican restaurant spot I think. The building is rustic and cozy inside, but the fire pit in the back is what caught my attention. There’s a deck off the back of the building overlooking Fish Hatchery Road, and my friend Nicole and I definitely spotted a fire fit back there…I’m thinking this place will be a regular stop on my patio rotation this summer!

Cheese curds

On to the food…that isn’t BBQ (sorry!) but was still good. I must have forgotten where I was and what type of restaurant I was in when looking at the menu because we ordered broasted chicken and the sausage plate…and no barbecue. But because we work hard and deserve a treat…we started with the cheese curds. The almost overflowing basket came with what were obviously hand-breaded cheese curds. Here’s your clue: If the curds are all the same shape and size…they came out of a freezer box — if they’re random shapes and sizes…they were probably hand-breaded. These were hand-breaded, fried to a perfect golden brown, just salty enough and came with the perfect dipping sauce — housemade ranch! Nothing bad to say about the curds!

img_3837Nicole and I decided to each get an entree and split it. I got the sausage plate with mac and cheese and coleslaw. It also came with corn bread. Their sausage that week was an Italian sausage. It was perfectly grilled with crispy grill marks on the outside and had a good flavor. I appreciated that it wasn’t too greasy and you get enough to feed two! BBQ restaurant mac and cheese is never anything special and the Thirsty Goat’s was right on par with that. The coleslaw wasn’t unique, but it was good. I don’t remember much about the corn bread, but only because I ate it so fast!

img_3836Nicole got the half chicken and it was good…but it was chicken. I have zero complaints about the chicken…except that it wasn’t BBQ brisket!

FOOD NOTES: Good ahead…get the cheese curds at this BBQ restaurant…you won’t be disappointed! Our lunch at the Thirsty Goat was very good, but I do regret not getting BBQ…guess it’s just a good reason to go back again! Oh, and don’t forget about the fire pit for this summer! If it’s a Friday night, you might find me there!

Advertisements

Graze epitomizes Madison’s food scene

I’ve lived in Madison for more than six years and have been trying to hit all of the best restaurants, but for some reason I hadn’t been to Graze on the square yet. It had been on my list since moving here but it never worked out to go – there were always other options that worked better. So when my mom came in to town this fall I decided a Friday night dinner at Graze was in order. They don’t take reservations so we got there around 5 to make sure we got a table! It was already humming then and the best tables near the front windows were taken. We got a small table in the middle of the room pushed up against other tables for two, but the view is mostly the same from the entire dining room.

graze deviled eggs

Graze deviled eggs

There are a lot of things on the menu that Graze is known for, so going into the meal I had an idea what we’d be ordering. We ordered the deviled eggs and fried pickles for appetizers. I was hoping the deviled eggs would be something special or a spin on the traditional Wisconsin deviled eggs. The Graze deviled eggs were good but nothing special. The thing that would make them worth ordering again was the mustard sauce they were sitting on. It added a great flavor to the rich deviled eggs.

graze pickles

Graze fried pickles

Though the deviled eggs were less than spectacular, the fried pickles lived up to their hype and then some. The pickle chips were perfectly fried and came in a large serving. The batter was not too light or too heavy – it was perfectly salty and crispy. The dill ranch dressing was the perfect dipping sauce for the perfectly-greasy fried pickle chips! I love fried pickles and these are ones to keep going back for!

graze beet salad

Graze roasted beet salad

My mom and I like dessert a little less than the average person so we decided to split the roasted beet salad before our main meal instead of getting a dessert. The salad was a perfect choice! It comes with roasted pistachios, Sartori MontAmore cheese, roasted beets and mixed greens topped with a light vinaigrette. We both love beets so this salad was perfect. I was surprised at the large amount of the premium toppings – the beets, pistachios and Sartori cheese! I can’t say enough about this amazing salad – the pistachios added the perfect crunch to the soft roasted beets and the crunchy greens. The Sartori cheese was perfectly sharp and paired well with the light vinaigrette! I will probably be making return trips just for this salad!

graze mussels

Graze moules frites

I got the moules frites f0r my main course. The mussels were perfectly cooked with a great fennel and white wine sauce. The light sauce paired perfectly with the super salty and amazingly crispy fries. The fries were served with a garlic aioli and I absolutely loved them! It is a very simple dish but it was prepared perfectly!

graze sausages

Graze sausage, eggs, veggies

My mom got a dish with house-made sausage, sauteed kale, sweet potatoes and cauliflower, and a sunny-side up egg. The dish also came with hot mustard for the sausages. Everything was cooked perfectly and it got my mom to like sunny-side up eggs for the first. It wasn’t anything too special but it was very good.

FOODNOTES: The view alone sells Graze as the place to go when spotlighting Madison as a food-loving town, but some of our choices added to the great night. The deviled eggs and both of our entrees weren’t anything too spectacular but our fried pickles and roasted beet salad were top notch. The fried pickles top my list of best fried pickles I’ve ever tried and will definitely be ordered again! But what will bring me back, other than the view and tempting other dishes to order, is the roasted beet salad! It was simple but spectacular! Prices are what you’d expect for a funky bistro across the street from the Capitol. I would suggest getting there early unless you don’t mind waiting 40 minutes for a table.

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.