In a word: Creative adjacent.

The specs: #01002  
1224 Williamson St., 53703
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest PaintBar news and reviews

JM ate a pizza with a lemonade.
Nichole ate a panino and chips.
The bill was $21, or $10ish/person, plus tip.
JM gave PaintBar a C+; Nichole gave PaintBar a B- (see our grading rubric).

First things first: we didn't paint at PaintBar. So this is even less of a full picture than we usually draw. There are two canvasses of PaintBar - the first in Delafield, and the one on Williamson. They may be completely different, but we only tried the Willy St. spot, early on a weeknight during which the place hosted a couple tables of quiet painters, as well as what looked like a post-work happy hour full of young people with a co-worker vibe who were far too well put-together to be government employees.


Let's get down to the food since it is primarily what we consumed.  Nichole's panino was clearly the better of the two meals we received.  The sandwich boasted a good flavor blend of salty meat, sweet rich cheese, sharp arugula, bright tomatoes pressed hard between slices of good bread.  The chips were fine but not awesome.


JM's pizza, on the other hand, did not really please.  It had a common pizza problem of being too damp to really be described as much else.  The flavors that should accompanying a ham pizza ended up falling into either the blah bucket or the salt lick.  Hoo boy, was this some salty ham.

But this may be too harsh for a place that is selling a fun atmosphere and mostly delivers.  Their calendar is laden with special events and small private parties, but the Bar part of their name comes honestly.  That is to say, don't bring the kids.  And without getting all gender studies on it, JM felt that it would be hard to see a strongly mixed gender group doing this without kids in tow. (The clientele, work party notwithstanding, was north of 80% female.) Nichole indicated she would return if and only if it were for a party of some kind. 

Which maybe gets into Madison's next phase of restaurants, now that we're closer to peak ethnic: places where you can drink & ______. 

First 1000: Closed Restaurants

In Memoriam

A Tribute to the Fallen

Backing Tracks from the Free Music Archive:
Pavane pour une infante défunte (Ravel) by Lee Rosevere
Curtains are Always Drawn by Kai Engel

Bonus book bit: Babcock Hall, & an event

Hey! Saturday afternoon, 5/7/2016, come to a reading from Madison Food: a History of Capital Cuisine - 2pm at Spring Green Community Library, 230 E. Monroe St., Spring Green. Now, a bonus post.

Lots of words didn't fit into Madison Food. Here are some more of our favorites that we didn't want to be missed. Our writeup of our A to Z visit to Babcock Hall Dairy Store was posted back in 2005.

No discussion of the UW-Agricultural program would be complete without mentioning Babcock Hall. Babcock Hall is the home of the University’s dairy plant. For a school as focused on life sciences as this one, it is not hard to imagine such a thing. Of course, what has has happened there since 1951 is amazing.

Let’s start with that name: Who was Babcock? Stephen Moulton Babcock was a chemist who came to the University in 1887. The market for wheat, Wisconsin's former cash crop, had cratered, and the state was looking to increase its milk and butter production as a needed boost to the economy. Pasteurization for milk was still a new idea in the mid-1880's, at which time there were few methods of preserving dairy products. So getting Wisconsin's fresh dairy products safely to the rest of the country looked like an impossible task. Babcock helped change all that.

His first discovery was that it was possible to determine the butterfat content of milk merely by dissolving it in sulfuric acid. (It is not recommended that one drink a glass of milk that has received this treatment.) The result of this process is that everything but the butterfat dissolves. Through a simple laboratory preparation, the fat content could be determined. As a result of this test, the quality of a batch of milk could be easily assessed, and therefore producers could be paid more fairly. Shipping would also be simplified, and most importantly, the standardized milk could be efficiently converted into longer-lasting dairy products such as butter and cheese.

Babcock Hall itself was built in the early 1950s as a modern update to UW’s dairy program. Part of this was a continuation of the school’s program of selling products to locals in an effort to test new methods of flavoring and production. While butter and milk are commonplace, the real secret of the University's dairy program is the ice cream. While consistent favorites dominate, there are a multitude of short-term and experimental flavors that tickle the taste buds while teaching a new generation how to craft quiescent dessert for both large and small scale operations. Babcock Hall dairy products are proudly sold at several Madison grocery stores and no summer trip to campus (whether for SOAR, the student orientation program, or just on a road trip) is complete with stopping in for a scoop.

The location itself was kept small in order to not compete with local dairy interests and has been updated and renovated multiple times over its 60 years. In 2001, John and Donna Hansen gave the university $350,000 to redecorate the space back into its classic "dairy bar" look.

Madison continues to be blessed with many fine types of frozen dessert. There’s everything from the decadent Chocolate Shoppe to the delicious creamy farm-fresh flavors of Sassy Cow, from the housemade gelato at Java Cat to the miles of smiles from Culver’s and Michael’s Custard. Yet no frozen treat joint quite says “Madison” like Babcock.

Source: Laursen, Bethany. “Standing in Line, Standing in a Legacy: An Environmental History of the Babcock Hall Dairy Store.” Wisconsin Magazine of History, Spring 2004.


Madison Food coverOur book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is out. More updates here, and some bonus bits on Porchlight, Argus, Sunshine Supper, and Babcock.


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