Monday, August 25, 2014

Restaurant Review: Graze

Graze is L'Etoile's punchy little brother located next door on the square. They are less formal, but use most of the same farms and sources for their ingredients as L'Etoile.

The biggest take away from Graze is, when you work with passionate farmers, cheesemakers, and producers who have a deep respect for the ingredients, you can make magic happen in people's mouths. There is a great blend of extremely local high quality ingredients which are prepared and matched perfectly to compliment each other. There has been some push back against local food in the more cynical food press. Just because it's local doesn't mean it's good. Which is true in some cases... but not in Graze's.

My absolute favorite bakery at the Farmer's Market is also the Graze Bakery! Those are the best croissants EVER!

We started off with the pork buns. I'll have to admit I am biased because my mom makes the best pork buns in the world.
Pork Belly, Kimchi, Cilantro and Hoisin (picture c/o getnmahbelly)

The pork belly was cut almost more like thick cut bacon then what I'm used to in a pork bun. The ones I've had in the past were usually cut thicker and had more luxurious (see fatty) pork belly. But it's very tasty and tender. The balance of meat, fat, cilantro, kimchi and hoisin was spot on. The bun tasted fresh and homemade. I love these little buggers and are well worth a visit! 2/$6. The only better pork buns I have had are my mom's and Momofuku's in NYC.

We also had a charcuterie plate

Starting from the left that is two types of prosciutto, pickles, mustard, pate, head-cheese and a herbed sour cream sort of dip. Everything was spot on here. The headcheese was full of porky deliciousness and had a phenomenal texture. There wasn't a whole lot of gelatin which can sometimes turn some people off to headcheese. The pate was also well flavored and was wrapped in a nice layer of fatty meat,  which might have been pork belly. The two prosciuttos were night and day different. My lovely dining companion had never tried prosciutto before and couldn't believe how much of a difference there was between the two types. This was the best charcuterie plate I've had in Madison.

Ko Ben
This is basically a Ruben with kimchi instead of Sour Kraut. But WHAT A RUBEN! I had a very similar sandwich at The Little Goat in Chicago, but that was a pale shadow compared to this one! The pastrami and corned beef was tender smoky and amazing. The Hook's Swiss was powerful and definitely made it's presence known. The kimchi added a spicy and the same sour notes that sour kraut normally would but with more kick, and a nice garlic note.

Overall I wanted to curl up in bed and use this sandwich as a pillow... I'm not weird. What are you talking about.

Chicken Cesar Salad
Someone hit this chicken with the flavor stick! These taste so much more chicken-y then any other chicken I've had! Perfectly grilled and served with some wilted romaine, croûtons with shaved Sarveccio Parmesan, and heirloom baby tomatoes.  This is a great entrée Cesar salad, tons of flavor and every ingredient is perfectly in season and at the peak of it's freshness.

I'll admit I had a little bit of plate envy over that salad.

Luckily she was envious of my food too!
Other things not to miss are the Hook's 10 year Mac and cheese, and the $21 Graze Burger.

Rating: 4 Ruben Pillows out of a possible 4.
Cost: $$$

1 S Pinckney St. Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608.251.2700
Fax: 608.251.7577

Brunch: Saturday & Sunday 9:30am–3pm
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11am–2:30pm
Off-Hours Menu: Mon - Fri 2:30–5pm,  & Saturday 3-5pm
Dinner: ​Monday - Thursday 5–10pm  & Friday - Saturday 5–11pm


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