Patrick Murphy fell in love with French cuisine without even leaving American soil. In fact, he barely left the Midwest. Ever since his apprenticeship with award-winning chef Sanford D'Amato, Patrick's been dedicated to crafting French cuisine with gigs at Coquette Cafe in Milwaukee and Café Boulud in New York City. At Le Rêve, he draws on those experiences, using seasonal ingredients to craft his own take on French classics. Cooking for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, he whips up everything from crepes with mushroom, gruyère, and basted egg to pan-bagnat sandwiches with grilled chicken and roasted-caper aioli.
For Carol Deptolla of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It's not a trip to Le Rêve without one of the intricate pastries for dessert." Pastry chef Abelardo Guadarrama whips up these sweet treats, which range from tarts filled with housemade caramel sauce and chocolate ganache to gluten- and nut-free options such as crème brûlée. Along with housemade breads and croissants, daily and seasonal desserts fill the tempting glass display inside Le Rêve's dining room.
"Milwaukee, rolled in a sweet topping of Paris chic." That's how Milwaukee Magazine describes Le Rêve's interior, which aptly mirrors the two geographic influences of Chef Patrick. A former bank, the more than 100-year-old building sports classic café touches such as a terrazzo floor, exposed brick, and leather banquettes. To top it off, bartenders serve wine, spirits, and cocktails from behind a zinc-topped bar, which supplies 700% of your daily zinc intake with just one quick lick.
Bean Sprouts Café's wholesome, vegetarian-friendly menu supplies palates with a nutritious array of fresh smoothies, snacks, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, and entrees in portions to please kids ($5.25 for a main dish), adults ($7.95), and big daddies ($9.50). Gather enough forearm strength to punish burly bullies with the spinach, gruyere, and hummus wrap, or satisfy a Lilliputian appetite with the turkey or veggie-tofu Bunchkin Burger. All main dishes come with a choice of healthy side, such as edamame or freshly harpooned banana octopus. Organic baby bites with clever names such as Pea Diddy and Sam I Yam ($2.50 each) and family meal packs cement Bean Sprouts' familial air like a Scythian blood oath.
The menu at Pancake Cafe is impressive—almost as impressive as their nine straight awards for Best Breakfast in Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison. For breakfast, the staff serves home-style meals such as oven-baked omelets or house-made biscuits and gravy. The eatery’s namesake comes in unexpected varieties, including an award-winning apple pancake that’s baked for 20 minutes with fresh fruit, baker’s sugar, and Sinkiang cinnamon glaze. Pancake Cafe also whips up gluten-free versions and an old-fashioned potato pancake capped with applesauce or sour cream. They even squeeze fresh orange juice by wringing out a traffic cone as aggressively as possible. At lunch, servers put the waffles down for a nap and begin presenting plates of white-albacore tuna melts, Angus burgers, and Chicago-style italian beef sandwiches.
Owner Lance Ratze named Yola’s Café for his Grandma Yola, a sensational cook who hoped to own a cafe but passed away before realizing her dream. She did come close, though. In addition to filling her kitchen with restaurant equipment, she piled her basement's ping-pong table high with roast beef, waffles, and pies so as to serve as many people as possible.
Today, Yola's aims to recreate its namesake's hospitality by filling stomachs with baked goods. By lunch, artisans dole out sandwiches, salads, and soups to sate midday cravings. As they dine, grownups peruse a rotating selection of local artwork, while kids play with the cafe's toys, board games, and an old tin can.
Atlas Improv Company shows, which rely on audience participation and judging, draw everybody in the house into a night of innovative, unpredictable theater. Launched six years ago when the performers at Comedysportz Madison broke off to form a new company, Atlas is dedicated to exploring the boundaries of improv and then colonizing everything beyond those boundaries. The group's approach emphasizes storytelling over traditional improv rules and time limits, resulting in richer narratives, deeper character development, and a unique blend of traditional theater and modern improv, like a pizza topped with iPhones.
Amid a casual ambience, Ironworks Cafe slakes stomach suspirations with breakfast and lunch menus founded on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Breakfast-farers halt hunger with classic dishes, such as eggs benedict with ham served with your choice of side salad, fresh fruit, or potatoes ($8); or an Ironworks skillet stuffed with roasted potatoes, savory sausage, peppers, and onions, blanketed with pepperjack cheese and over-easy eggs ($8). For lunch, quiet midday stomach rumblings with a savory sandwich, such as the swiss-chard and oyster-mushroom melt ($8.50), or order your inner-brontosaurus a large spinach salad tossed with chevre, cucumbers, and toasted nuts in a berry vinaigrette ($5.75).