Big portions, big history housed in tiny Wonder Bar

Wonder Bar
Wonder Bar

There are a lot of options for steak in Madison and the surrounding area, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a place that has as much history as Wonder Bar. I’m not going to get into too much detail, but if you like gangster history and don’t mind eating on the other side of a dead body (what? yeah…that’s what their website says), then Wonder Bar is a great place to check out.

Wander Bar BBQ bacon wrapped shrimp
Wander Bar BBQ bacon wrapped shrimp

My mom and I went on a Friday night and got seated upstairs. There’s nothing super impressive about the decor or the dining areas, but if you read up on the history of the place, it is pretty cool. We decided to start with the BBQ bacon wrapped shrimp. The BBQ was tangy and had a little spice, the bacon was thick and the shrimp were huge. Combine all those ingredients and we had a great appetizer.

Wonder Bar wedge salad
Wonder Bar wedge salad

Steaks come with a salad, and of course both of us got steak. Even though our waiter warned me the wedge salad could probably be a meal on its own…I decided to go with that. And boy was he right. It was legitimately 1/4 of a head of iceberg lettuce, an entire tomato (cut in half), probably a full cup of blue cheese and a ton of dressing. I don’t usually love blue cheese, but I usually like it on a wedge salad…this time it was good, but I didn’t eat even half the blue cheese that was on the plate.

Wonder Bar filet and hash browns
Wonder Bar filet and hash browns

My mom and I both got the house filet with hash browns…because what else do you get when you go to a steak house?! Both filets were perfectly cooked and had a great flavor. They were also super tender and had that great grill char. The hash browns were crispy and had onions mixed in…winning!

Needless to say…we skipped dessert and took home doggy bags.

FOOD NOTES: If you’re looking for a place to get a stiff drink and some classic steakhouse food…Wonder Bar is definitely your place. My mom and I had a great meal…but keep in mind that classic steakhouse food usually comes with a higher price tag. Another thing to note…if you’re trying to find Wonder Bar…it’s the super tiny brick building right behind the Coliseum Bar. If you’re not looking closely…you might drive right by.

Ramen outshines baked goods at Asian Sweet Bakery

Asian Sweet Bakery on Park Street
Asian Sweet Bakery on Park Street

When I first heard about Asian Sweet Bakery on Park Street I wasn’t quite sure what to think…all of the reviews on Yelp were super positive, but most of the individual baked goods sounded either too sweet or a little odd for my taste. But I’m always going to give a new place at least one chance, so I went for lunch with my friend Nicole.

Asian Sweet Bakery baked goods
Asian Sweet Bakery baked goods

The tiny corner bakery has a decent-sized bakery case filled with baked goods even around lunch time. There’s also a small dining room with about four tables. The woman behind the counter was super helpful in describing what everything in the bakery case was and answering questions about the menu.

Asian Sweet Bakery ramen with shrimp dumplings
Asian Sweet Bakery ramen with shrimp dumplings

We decided to try the rice noodle ramen with shrimp wontons. I’ve had bad ramen and it’s like eating noodles in warm water. But this ramen was great. The noodles were perfectly cooked and the broth had a great savory flavor…it wasn’t too salty, but it definitely had some depth. There was just enough cabbage and it still had a good amount of crunch to it. The shrimp wontons were not what I was expecting, but they were super good. The soft noodle wrapper was al dente and the shrimp filling was flavorful…I think it had some green onions mixed in! The other thing to note was the size of the bowl…it was more than enough for the two of us.

Asian Sweet Bakery pot stickers
Asian Sweet Bakery pot stickers

The pot stickers were also pretty good. The pork filling had a good, sausagey flavor, but they weren’t too greasy. And they were crispy, which is way better than mushy pot stickers.

Now onto the sweets

Asian Sweet Bakery black bean bun, kids bun, Chinese fried donut
Asian Sweet Bakery black bean bun, kids bun, Chinese fried donut

I got a red bean bun, which looks like a cinnamon roll without frosting, but instead of cinnamon and sugar the sweet stuff is a sweet red bean paste. I’ve enjoyed similar desserts at other restaurants and this one was also pretty good. The bread and the paste were both moist, and I felt like there was a good amount of the paste…I was worried there might be more dough than the yummy filling.

Nicole and I decided to split one of the super long Chinese fried donuts, but it was kind of disappointing. The batter tasted like plain fried dough…the dough was not sweet and there was nothing sweet sprinkled on top. It was definitely not what we were expecting, and not great.

Nicole also got a fun hotdog and corn bun for her daughter. It was a simple flat pastry with slices of hotdog and corn kernels in it. It went over pretty well with Avery, but I think she liked the red bean bun better…we kept saying it was chocolate!

FOOD NOTES: Although I liked most of the sweets (except the fried donut) that we got…I think the hidden gem of this super simple place on Park Street is their ramen and wonton soup. The broth is super flavorful, the ingredients are fresh and plentiful, and the price is great for the amount of food you get. The red bean bun was pretty great…but I’m not sure if I’m adventurous enough to go back try some of the other interesting baked goods in the case.