Lazy Jane’s Cafe

IMG_2966.JPGName: Lazy Jane’s Cafe

Location: 1358 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Ambiance: Diner, brunch/lunch location

Price: $$

Best Dish: Seitan Hash/Melt (depending on when you go)

Madison has no shortage of fantastic brunch places, but Lazy Jane’s Cafe does fill a niche. Specifically, it provides a “meaty” option to vegetarian – and also has fabulous scones. Set out in the Atwood/Williamson neighborhoods, the restaurant is surrounded by many, many amazing restaurants, but manages to stand on its own.

My dining companion and I ordered the Arti Melt and the Seitan Melt (made as a hash earlier in the morning) respectively. I also ordered an iced vanilla latte and a lemon cream scone, while he ordered just plain iced coffee. The vanilla latte left much to be desired. It had too much vanilla syrup and was cloyingly sweet, and as a result was somewhat unpleasant to drink. My companion said his iced coffee was okay, but nothing exceptional. The scone was delicious – the lemon flavor came through well, and it was moist, crumbly and one of the best scones I’ve had outside of the Farmer’s Market. The entrees were generously portioned and accompanied by a heaping serving of kettle cooked chips and salad. The salad dressing was very good, creamy but light, however, the focus was really on the sandwiches. The arti melt took artichoke hearts and layered it over marinara, creating a pizza flavor in a sandwich. It was hearty and tasty, flavored with Italian seasoning. However, the seitan melt really stood out. The seitan was meaty and well seasoned, and was not overwhelmed by salty brine as often happens. It was paired with portabella mushrooms and perfectly sauteed onions and bell peppers that had softened just enough to still have a bite.

Overall, Lazy Jane’s Cafe offers a great dining experience. It’s a lovely little diner, and while it isn’t particularly unique, the seitan melt does set it apart from the many other brunch places that Madison has.


Madison Sourdough

E39B4581-53D4-49E9-B80B-B6BA7F8B6F30.JPGName: Madison Sourdough

Location: 916 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Ambiance: Casual, brunch/lunch place

Price: $$

Best Dish: Loaded Grilled Cheese

I’m not generally someone who seeks out sandwiches when I go out to eat, but on this day, I needed a quick lunch before driving a friend to the airport. We accidentally ended up in Madison Sourdough after we discovered that the Mexican place we wanted to go to had moved, and it was the tastiest accident of my life. Madison Sourdough is tucked away on Williamson, and is terrible to find parking around – but it is definitely worth the trip.

They do standard brunch fare, however, since we were there for lunch, we went with their sandwiches. My friend ordered the Ruben (and for non-vegetarians, he said it was one of the best Rubens he’s had), and I went with the half and half combo of one of their soups (which change by the day) and the loaded grilled cheese. The cream of tomato was was surprisingly light, with just the right amount of tang from the tomato to cut through the cream. The loaded grilled cheese was really unique – although I wouldn’t really classify it as a grilled cheese. Stuffed with cauliflowers (a surprising choice that added a nice texture) and mushrooms, the combination of whipped cream cheese and smoked fontina added a unique texture to the cheese holding the sandwich together. The herbed aioli added a lot of flavor, and added a sharpness to the sandwich. However, what was especially unique was how good the salad was. Generally, a side of salad tends to be limp and overdressed, but Madison Sourdough nailed the exact ratio of greens to dressing, making it a salad that I actually wanted to eat.

Madison Sourdough also has a patisserie, and their cookies are delicious. I had the chocolate chip espresso cookie, and it was crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. My friend ordered their Americano, and their coffee was rich and flavorful. The rest of their display is incredibly tempting, filled with cheesecakes and macarons and eclairs. I will definitely be making a trip back to try those – but just the sandwiches are enough to bring me back for a second time.

Bloom Bake Shop

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Name: Bloom Bake Shop

Location: 1851 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711 (the first one opened in Middleton, located at 1834 Parmenter St, Middleton, WI 53562)

Ambience: Chic

Price: $-$$

Best Dish: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake

Gourmet bakeries tend to fall on the pricier side, but I fall in the category that is willing to pay way too much for my food. Admittedly, this place initially seems a little too pricey to be worth it — at $3.50 a cupcake, it is a lot of money for a sweet treat. Bloom has everything from whoopie pies to brownies, but my personal favorites are their cupcakes and donuts. They also have savories and coffee, but I haven’t tried them. That being said, this place is definitely worth it, if only for a once in a while, especially if you are gluten free or vegan.

My friend and I got three cupcakes and a donut. The cupcakes were lemon vanilla, chocolate raspberry rose, and chocolate peanut butter, the donut was sweet potato. I’ll admit that I was pretty hesitant about the sweet potato donut, but I was very pleasantly proved wrong. The donut was crisp on the outside, with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and soft and tender on the inside. The sweet potato flavor was not overwhelming at all — it hung out in the background, adding a mysterious layer of flavor. Honestly, if I had not known, I probably wouldn’t have even guessed that it was sweet potato.

Their cupcakes are also delicious. The chocolate raspberry rose cupcake was a little on the dry side, and I could have used some more raspberry jam filling. The lemon vanilla had a nice tang, but the chocolate peanut butter took the (cup)cake. Generously filled with rich ganache and topped with a creamy peanut butter frosting, the hint of saltiness from the peanut butter perfectly offsets the sweetness from the ganache. The cupcake was moist, and melted in my mouth when I took a bite — and actually had the perfect ratio of frosting to cupcake.

Bloom deserves a visit, even if it’s only for one of their delicious chocolate peanut butter cupcakes or unique sweet potato donuts. Adorably decorated in baby blue and white tile, it’s a great place for a Saturday morning brunch — even if your wallet will shed a tear at the thought of spending $3.50 on a cupcake.




Hurts Donuts

The Homer Simpson Donut

Name: Hurts Donuts

Location: 2831 Parmenter St, Middleton, WI 53562

Ambience: Casual

Price: $-$$

Best Dish: Nutella Donut

Madison has seen a lot of new donut places, and one I have been meaning to go to since they opened up late last year is Hurts Donuts. Out in the suburb of Middleton, Hurts is open 24 hours and has plenty of unique flavors, making them a good place to go to for a late-night craving.

Hurts Donuts has a lot of flavors — among them are German Chocolate, the “Cereal” Killer, salted caramel, the Homer Simpson donut, and the nutella donut. We bought half a dozen, which cost around $10. One of my main issues with Hurts was that their donuts were simply too sweet. There was nothing to counteract the overwhelming sweetness in my mouth, and having something tangy to cut through would have really helped. The donuts were also on the denser side, and I personally am more of a fan of the lighter ones. The one donut I really enjoyed was the Nutella donut, which was light and dusted with cinnamon sugar. The fluffiness was perfect on this one, and despite the thick dollop of Nutella in the center, it wasn’t weighed down by it. My other favorite was the salted caramel, which had a good amount of saltiness to balance out the richness of the caramel. I could not say the same for the other flavors, which tended to have too much going on for my taste — there were too many components where I would have preferred simplicity.

That being said, Hurts Donuts is great for a 2 AM craving or for when you really need a sugar rush. Many people will appreciate the richness and complexity, but I just happen to be someone who likes her donuts simple. The originality of a flavor like the “Cereal” Killer is one of their strengths, and while I personally prefer Greenbush Bakery, Hurts will definitely satisfy a sweet tooth.

[Top, from left]: Homer Simpson, Nutella, Cosmic Brownie. [Bottom, from left]: German Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Apple Pie.

Porter Coffee


Name: Porter

Location: 640 W Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703

Ambience: Hipster coffee shop

Price: $

Best Dish: Mocha

To be fair, I can’t exactly pick any other dish from Porter because I haven’t eaten anything else. I went at 9 AM, and had already had breakfast. My companion did have their avocado toast and enjoyed it — however, for almost $6 for avocado on toast, it seemed a little overpriced.

Porter’s biggest draw is its atmosphere. Tucked behind a bicycle shop just off of the railroad tracks, it’s very inconspicuous. In fact — it was so inconspicuous that Google Maps sent me around in circles for 10 minutes before I finally called my friend to ask where it was. Right outside the shop, there’s a stationary, giant yellow train just waiting there. The inside has an exposed pipe and a modern yet cosy vibe, despite how small it is. The exposed countertops and brick add to the ambience, as does the single, large square table in the center of the coffeeshop that serves as the main seating. Having everyone sit around the same coffee table really does encourage conversation — as I found when I spoke to the person sitting next to me about the newspaper.


As for their drinks, their mocha is delicious. It tastes even better because their whipped cream is light, fluffy, and clearly homemade. As someone who generally does not enjoy whipped cream, this was a very pleasant surprise. Their mocha was a little bit on the stronger side, but it still had the distinctive flavor of the chocolate. The rest of their coffee menu is pretty standard — cortados, macchiatos, lattes, and the like.

Porter is a lovely place to go for a date or just a long conversation with friends. I wouldn’t recommend it for studying simply because it is so small. It’s a great addition to Madison’s local coffeeshops, and definitely a hidden gem.

Update: Porter’s sandwiches are also amazing. Their Veggie sandwich, with tangy artichokes that add a heartiness, arugula, and gooey cheese is phenomenal and is surprisingly one of the best sandwiches I’ve had.

Crescendo Espresso Bar and Music Cafe

After-School Special

Name: Crescendo Espresso Bar and Music Cafe

Location: 1859 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711

Ambience: Coffee shop

Cost: $

Best Dish: After School Special

Crescendo is another one of the small, local coffee shops that dot Madison. They are a great study space, with a darker interior, but the large window keeps it feeling open. The staff is very friendly — when I asked, the lady at the counter had a good suggestion for a drink, and mentioned that the music is chosen by the staff. They also have a small area where they sometimes have live music, adding to the feel of the place.

I didn’t quite enjoy their iced vanilla latte, because it was little too watery. However, their ‘after school special’ (at about $3.50), was very good — especially for someone who doesn’t like a strong coffee taste. It’s a blend of chocolate milk with cold brew, and is sweet with a very mild coffee flavor. It’s not as strongly chocolate flavored as a mocha, but the flavors come together very well. They also have a couple of unique options, like a nitrogen cold press and blueberry matcha tea (served either shaken or blended). A friend really liked the shaken version, mentioning that the blueberry really came through. Their black bean burrito was also quite good for a quick snack — although, I’d describe it more as a warm wrap and the salsa was lacking.

Crescendo is a nice spot on Monroe Street for a day of studying, with lots of options and a good atmosphere. It’s a little more spacious than other local coffee shops in Madison, and since it’s less well known, tends to be less crowded. The softer music also helps make a better studying environment.

Blueberry Matcha (shaken, on the left) and an Iced Vanilla Latte (right)
Mocha with Almond Milk


Mushrooms, Asparagus, Kale and Parmesan Crepe

Name: Bradbury’s

Location: 127 N. Hamilton Madison, WI

Ambience: Hipster Coffee Shop

Cost: $$

Best Dish: Impossible to go wrong.

With a minimalistic menu that focuses on good coffee, fresh, local ingredients, and crepes, Bradbury’s Coffee excels at what it sets out to do. There is no way to order incorrectly at Bradbury’s — my companions really loved the cold press coffee and the freshly squeezed orange juice, and my iced vanilla latte was one of the best I’ve had. It wasn’t overwhelmingly syrupy, with the correct balance of milk and coffee flavor.

Their rotating menu emphasizes the vegetables that are in season. When we went, it was asparagus, and the crispy stalks were cut thinly enough so that they were tender. They were happy to replace the scrambled eggs with kale, and while I was worried it would be too leafy, it worked exceptionally well. The heartiness of the kale complimented the smoothness of the mushrooms, which added another layer of nuttiness. The crepe was delicate, but didn’t fall apart under the toppings.

Also delicious are their sweet crepes — although they aren’t shown here, the homemade nutella and strawberry crepe with fresh whipped cream was a standout. The whipped cream was frothy and ever so slightly melted, and the tartness of the strawberries cut through the sweetness from the nutella. Prices range from $3-$8, and this place is a great pit stop during a round at the Farmer’s Market — or any other time.