One of the best BLTs in Madison doesn't have bacon on it. Dubbed the TLT, owner 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. Every year since 2012, it has been named "Favorite Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant" by The Daily Page, and it has been featured on The Restaurant Show in both August and September of 2014.
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 Voss Organics. One of the only vegan brunch places in Madison, guests can substitute tofu for the organic range-free eggs in many dishes, and enjoy bloody marys with house-infused black pepper vodka. They also periodically throw their popular 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.
Bon Appétit's bright-red façade, alluring green doorway, and smells of fresh cooking coax patrons in to where they can peruse a frequently changing menu. The eatery's dishes are largely prepared with locally produced ingredients, including organic eggs and grass-fed, natural meat. Brunch opens its coat to offer passersby an ever-evolving selection of sandwiches ($7.75), such as the BLT on sourdough, and the Ben Yeddar, in which chopped roasted egg, feta cheese, shredded carrot, onion, roasted cashews, mild green chilies, and a cumin-infused mayonnaise are laid to rest on fresh pita bread. Broaden taste horizons with treats such as panquecas ($7.95), Brazilian crêpes stuffed with fresh banana, topped with honey, and served with a choice of Spanish potato salad, polenta, or fruit. Recent dinner specials include Algerian pan-seared chicken, marinated in a spicy bath infused with roasted anise seed and served with special rice ($15.95).
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.
O.S.S. owners may play a bit coy about their business name?they'll never come clean about exactly what O.S.S. stands for?but they take their sausages very seriously. They consider sausage to be a comfort food, and assembled their menu with the idea of gathering comforting flavors from around the world. In addition to local classics such as the bratwurst, they serve a ginger-spiced Chinese pork sausage, a Turkish lamb and chicken sausage, and a Vietnamese sausage with pickled veggies and cilantro. They pair their meats with sides such as hand-cut french fries and cheese curds, both with dipping sauces such as Sriracha mayo, ranch, and sweet and hot mustard.