Highland Grounds

Wasiman Center lobby with breakfastIn a word: Fine enough.

The specs: #00907  
1500 Highland Ave., 53705
Details at Highland Grounds on Urbanspoon
Official web site

Latest Highland Grounds news and reviews at del.icio.us

JM ate a muffin and a milk.
Nichole ate a donut and a coffee.
The bill was $7, plus tip.
JM gave Highland Grounds a B; Nichole gave Highland Grounds a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Highland Grounds isn't so much a restaurant as a window.  It's the coffee shop in the Waisman Center and, while it is nice that these folks can get java (as evidenced by the small line that had formed by the time we left), one wonders where this caffeine necessity will end. (ed: This is so JM talking right now.)

In the positive, Highland Grounds opened right on time. (We'd been out early, looking up stuff about dishwashing in the 1930s - spoiler alert, the institutions studied were not named, but restaurants were cleaner than taverns.) The functional, small space was ably manned by a personable staffer.  Babcock and Union foods abounded, along with some Gotham and Oakhouse morsels. The space is good enough to be functional, but not so large as to detract from the actual purpose of the Waisman Center. If you are there and need a morning show of awake, certainly stop by.

Highland Corner Grill

SaladIn a word: For the Out of Towner.

The specs: #00906   
2424 University Ave., 53726
Details at Yelp, Highland Corner Grill on Urbanspoon
Official web site

Latest Highland Corner Grill news and reviews at del.icio.us

JM ate the nachos grande with a strawberry lemonade.
Nichole ate the top sirloin with mashed potatoes and a salad.
The bill was $28, or $14/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Highland Corner Grill a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Highland Corner Grill replaced Francie's Casual Cafe in the Inn Towner and is so much better. The Inn Towner, as a hotel, is a little bit mystifying and (this is JM talking here) sad. Most of the people staying at the Inn Towner are not college helicopter parents or Badger fans or Epic customers.  No, this hotel is usually filled with people visiting and caring for people at the VA and UW hospitals. The faces of our fellow diners appeared tired, scared and overwhelmed. Conversation was subdued and no one seemed focused on the plates in front of them save us.

The good news in this is that Highland Corner Grill really is pretty good food.  Not awesome, locally-sourced confits and foam-laden exotic seafood, but simply comfort food prepared well at a reasonable price, served by people who are really nice.  The familiar is here in bulk quantity with a personal touch.

Nichole was feeling like steak, which is not normal for her, but it was on special. She got a cooked-to-order top sirloin with a heaping helping of garlic mashed potatoes and a side of sauteed veggies.  Steak is a lot about selecting the right cut of meat and the sirloin here was top 25% but not much higher. Nichole did finish everything given to her which says something for the quality.

Top sirloin and steamed vegetablesNachos grande

The same could almost be said for JM's big-enough-for-an-entree app order of nachos.  He did ask for the olives to be removed, so it was quite the whole thing. The cheese sauce was mostly a non-dairy affair, but the ground beef was good and the chips held up from start to finish.  The peppers were not so spicy as to render the rest of the dish inert.

"Highland Corner" as an intersection also features New Seoul, Sushi Box and Lombardino's, and Blue Moon is just a couple of blocks down. So it's a pretty happy corner, all things considered, and the hotel restaurant is a decent fit that does a good job.

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