In a word: Creative adjacent.
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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 & ______.