Name: The Green Owl Cafe
Location: 1970 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704
Best Dish: Crabby Cakes
Green Owl is an all vegetarian cafe out on Atwood, and the difficult thing about going to places like this — as my companion pointed out — is that there are just so many options to choose from that I never feel like I’ve done justice to the menu. Usually, there’s only one or two vegetarian items on the menu, but Green Owl caters specifically to vegetarians with a variety of meat substitutes.
The restaurant has a couple of good dishes, but also some not so good ones. Their side of kale chips ($3.50) are crispy and perfectly done, but could use more seasoning. The majority of chips lacked salt or seasoning, but the ones that had them were delicious.Their Crabby Cakes ($6.50) were outstanding — described as two tofu mushroom patties baked to a crispy brown outer coating, topped with vegan chipotle remoulade, they were flavorful and served on a bed of greens that added a burst of freshness. The chipotle remoulade was cool, and the flavor of the chipotle came through very well.
The Dijon Chicken sandwich ($9.50) was fine, but my companion felt like it needed more of the dijon flavor and our other meat-eating friend mentioned that the chicken substitute reminded him of the chicken McNuggets from McDonald’s. Also good was the Groundnut Stew ($12), inspired from some African cuisine with a rich flavor palette consisting of sweet potatoes, cabbage, ginger, peanuts and cilantro. The dish was very good, and the brown rice was well cooked. I personally was not a fan of the steamed kale, but my companion enjoyed it. Their Macho Nachos ($10.50)– classified as an appetizer, but great as an entree, were a generous portion of crispy chips, beans, pico, and cheese topped with fresh avocado and a dollop of sour cream. I enjoyed the freshness offered by the avocado, but I wished the ratio of toppings to chips had been higher.
Green Owl is a great concept, but it could have been better executed. They have a few dishes that are flavorful and well worth it, but other dishes are seriously lacking. The Crabby Cakes are fantastic — my meat eating friend even mentioned that although it doesn’t quite meet the texture, the flavor matches closely. They are a unique option out on Madison’s East side for a casual lunch.