Cardinal's Nest serves up a mountainous menu of sports-friendly fare in a lively ambience. Eager eaters can dig foam fingers into a Cardinal's Nest appetizer, a nest of onion rings filled with deep-fried pickles, green beans, cheese curds, and chicken wings ($9.99). Sandwiches ranging from a slow-cooked barbecue-pork wrap ($7.69) to a half-pound all-American burger smothered in barbecue sauce, cheddar, bacon, and onion straws ($8.29) tackle halftime hunger along with entrees such as blackened chicken and fettucini swimming in homemade alfredo sauce ($11.99). On Friday nights, the bar fries up beer-battered cod fillets for seafarers ($7.99–$11.99).
All three affiliated bowling alleys offer state-of-the-art synthetic lanes for bowling as smooth and entertaining as Captain Kirk's romantic prowess. Both Prairie Lanes and Ten Pin Alley sport 32 lanes, and the Bowl-A-Vard location offers 40 full lanes of polished fun. An automated bumper system lets kids bowl on the same lane as adults, making the experience fun for the whole family or for five unrelated strangers forced to bond over recreational sports for an upcoming reality-television series. With today's deal, spend two hours taunting your friends and taking out frustrations on a group of hapless pinheads. Unlike other competitive sports, such as dogsled racing and rap battling, bowling has zero barriers to entry and a shallow learning curve.
Dexter’s Pub is dedicated to providing a diverse selection of high-quality beers on tap and in the bottle. Selections change frequently to reflect the season and preferences of the customers and staff. Enjoy a local ale or porter, or soak in summer with a light lager. Once your stomach is hoppy and joyful, look to Dexter’s menu for a culinary cohort of delicious selections. The menu boasts homemade soups ($2.29–$2.99), salads ($2.95–$7.49), burgers (build-your-own and other specialty burgers start at $5.49, veggie burgers at $5), sandwiches ($2.50–$7.75), pizzas (starting at $5.99), and more. If these selections don't fill your bottomless torso purse, come back on Saturday for prime-rib night ($13.99–$15.99), which offers local prime rib from Knoche’s butcher shop in Middleton.
Live music is king at The Brink Lounge. The audiophile-geared bar hosts diverse acts every night from Tuesday through Saturday. Any number of bands might stop by to enchant audiences with their stylings, from national acts to small local bands. Their sound can vary, too, with past musicians regaling audiences with jazz, rock, folk, or soul-flavored stylings.
Visitors to The Brink Lounge don’t just sit back and listen to the music, either. Periodically, the bar puts on swing-dance nights and tango or salsa nights that encourage visitors to leap from their chairs, grab a partner, and cut a rug with their regulation-sharp tap shoes.
Patrons can also visit the bar for its liquid entertainment, which includes an extensive list of creative martinis and more than 100 internationally sourced wines. Bartenders shake and stir cosmos, lemon drops, and a coffee lover's martini, which blends espresso vodka, Frangelico, and cream. Drinks in hand, bar-goers can gather around a regular table or sink into cushy chairs and couches to soak in the music and the paintings hung on the walls. Between sips, groups can split plates of handmade pizzas or dive into bowls of spinach-artichoke dip and aged-cheddar fondue.
Behind State Street Brats' charming Old-World half-timbered façade, a convivial bar-and-grill atmosphere welcomes visitors to lively feastings of pub fare. With a special focus on sausages and cheesy meals, the menu celebrates the best-loved staples of Midwestern cuisine. Chefs serve up brats two traditional ways, with the Sheboygan-style white brat soaked in beer and red brats split open and grilled for a smoky flavor. Patrons can customize their orders at the condiment bar by slathering on a wide selection of toppings, such as tomatoes and sauerkraut, and picking the best flavor from a spread of local mustards, including Koops, Silver Spring, and Mustard Girl.
A two-time finalist for Madison Magazine’s Best Sports Bar, with a gold in 2011 and silver in 2012, State Street Brats relishes the company of happy regulars and avid sports fans there to catch games on the bar’s 25 TVs. Extensive cable and digital subscriptions keep crowds entertained with professional football and baseball or collegiate action. Four evenings a week, the second floor comes to life with a live DJ and a packed dance floor. Bartenders also keep fans on their toes with themed specials, such as Flip Night Tuesday, where patrons can flip a coin to determine how much their drinks cost.
Lucky’s satisfies appetites for pub fare and sports with a lunch and dinner menu and 50 televisions broadcasting all major sports packages from above a dark wood bar. Patrons can commence flavor explorations with six wings, which cooks toss with a choice of buffalo, barbecue, or garlic-parmesan sauce ($6.99), before strapping one to each shoulder to attract newly single griffins ($6.99). For the Wild West burger, grillmasters herd a beef patty and strips of applewood-smoked bacon onto a fresh kaiser roll smothered with barbeque sauce, grilled onions, and cheddar cheese ($6.99). As parents masticate on the sauerkraut-filled Regent Street reuben ($7.49), pint-sized palates can step up to bat with the minor leaguer’s menu and punt a slider hamburger into a side of fries or applesauce ($2.95).
Vintage Brewing Company deluges devotees with bountiful beers born out of Belgian, German, and American traditions. These refreshing hop-laden selections rest beside a slew of creative culinary concoctions, many of which comprise locally sourced ingredients. A plate of AJ's pretzels ($6) saunters in at the beginning of a feeding frenzy, with house-made pretzels perched on a pedestal and set to dive into a sea of VBC beer mustard and cheese dip. Vintage Brewing Company ups the burger ante with bratwurst burgers ($10.50) that explore what happens when two 4-ounce grilled brats are picked to live inside a beer-bread pretzel roll with oatmeal stout bacon sauerkraut, swiss cheese, and beer-cheese sauce. Throughout the visit, diners can pair plates with an array of bottles and cans, beers on tap, and wine.