Madison Labor Temple Bar

In a word: When your local is Local 139.

The specs: #00954   
1602 S Park St #106, 53715
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JM ate the fish sandwich.
Nichole ate the cheeseburger.
We split an order of onion rings. The bill was $15, or $7.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave the Madison Labor Temple bar a C (see our grading rubric).

There's a little bar and grill inside the Madison Labor Temple that is open after work. We were there on Euchre night and the tables along the windows were filled with foursomes trading bowers [sic] and calling trump.

Burger and pickles

Nichole got a Knoche's cheeseburger, which was pretty good. JM's fish sandwich was basically two fish sticks with some tartar sauce served on a bun. It was fine, too. The onion rings ended up being divisive. Nichole was in favor of this thin, crispy execution, whereas JM thought they were short on onion.

Fish sandwich and onion rings

Many small-town Wisconsin bars, and even Bennett's, project a certain right-wing air. The Labor Temple is going for the opposite, but if the posters on the wall were removed, the differences would be hard to spot. It's a comfortable place for a square meal.

Mad City Frites

In a word: A side dish takes center stage.

The specs: #00953   
320 State St., Madison 53703
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JM, Miranda, Nichole, Phil and the kids ate the frites with all the sauces. JM and Nichole also tried the poutine.
The bill was about $5/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Mad City Frites a B (see our grading rubric).

So Mad City Frites serves one thing really well: thick-cut potato fries with an array of creative sauces. They have custom-made tables and tableware to accommodate the paper cones that establish this frites shop as an earnest aspirant to Belgian-style snacking perfection.

Frites

We tried all 13 sauces on offer at our visit, plus the 'chup, yellow mustard, HP sauce and malt vinegar.  Here are our insights on MCF's prepared sauces:

Madtown Mango: The mango hangs way back in the mix and the garlic comes through more strongly than it should.

Game Day Garlic: This is fine, though a little drab.

Olin Park Parm: This ended up pleasing few, since the cheese flavor is pretty subdued.

Campus Queso: This is pretty nice. It is the only sauce that is served hot.

Bascom Hill BBQ: A favorite of the table.  BBQ sauce rarely disappoints, and this one balanced sweet and smokey well.

Isthmus Honey Mustard: Another winner.  Sweet with a nice mustardy finish. Definitely top-tier.

Sconnie Sriracha: As with all of MCF's aioli/mayo-based sauces, this one loses a fair amount of the flavor because of the oil in the base. It did have a little heat, though.

Big 10 Buffalo: Tabasco-y and a mite hotter than the prior.  Still, heat enthusiasts will be disappointed.

Mad Sauce: This was pretty good. A nice peppy take on sweet and sour.

Camp Randall Ranch: JM still doesn't understand the obsession some people have for ranch dressing. This is a classic take on it, if a little watery.

Grateful Red Pepper Aioli: Not much there there.

Wunsch's Wasabi Ginger: This tasted like a cross between a sushi plate and Dijonnaise.  There was little horseradish nose.

Picnic Park Pesto: A decent pesto sauce, in truth. Worked better than expected on frites.

The frites themselves were thick, seasoned, fluffy as promised: squishy greasy goodness.

JM and Nichole also tried the poutine, fries topped with roast beef gravy and fresh white cheese curds, but honestly the fries with sauces were better - simpler, and less insanely filling.

Poutine

We actually like one-menu-item places (better than one-word-name places, usually) and, having tried all the sauces, we've whittled the list back to what we would get again if we go.  If our descriptions don't go far enough, we recommend bringing some extra friends and trying the menu so that next time you'll know just which half to a third you should order next time.

NEWS

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