One of the best BLTs in Madison doesn't have bacon on it. Dubbed the TLT, Jennie Capellaro's meat-free version swaps out the pork for strips of tempeh, a type of cultured soy. The sandwich's smoky flavor won over the critics of 77 Square, claiming Best BLT honors in 2010. PETA named it one of the country's best vegan BLTs in 2012. And in 2013, it was named "Favorite Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant" by The Daily Page.
Jennie and her team at The Green Owl Cafe strive to similarly surprise their diners by coaxing out unexpected flavors from their vegetarian and vegan dishes. Championing freshness, they prefer to work with local suppliers, such as Blue Skies Berry Farm and Sprouting Acres. They also throw monthly raw nights, treating guests to prix fixe dinners comprised of all raw courses. Jennie matches her menu's celebration of nature with a rustic, wood-paneled interior and an outdoor patio where diners can catch the free vitamin-D capsules regularly tossed down by the sun.
Though steak, salads, and wines share the spotlight, it's the fondue pot that transforms the dining experience at Melting Pot into an interactive one. Bubbling at the center of the table, steel cauldrons steam with cheese blends such as aged cheddar and lager beer or fontina, butterkäse, and buttermilk blue. Diners spear slices of granny smith apples, artisan breads, and veggies before dipping them into the thick, creamy cheese. Chasing a wine-and-cheese-fondue pairing with salads before the main course of chicken and steak helps turn the experience into an event. Dessert can continue the dipping feast with any of nine velvety chocolate fondues and a dunkable array of strawberries, marshmallows, or chunks of cheesecake.