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Thursday, March 5, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 15.0° F  Fair
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Lisa O'Rourke
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Occupation: Manager, baker and chef

Where: Prairie Cafe & Bakery, 6720 Frank Lloyd Wright Ave., Middleton

Why you should go: To sneak a peak at this unusual new subdivision, go for breakfast or lunch. There's live music on Friday nights, too, except in summer. WORT's bluegrass boss Chris Powers plays here regularly.

Hmmm, Prairie Cafe on Frank Lloyd Wright Ave. - does your menu pay homage to the master?

Well, we do have a Wright burger that's sort of architectural - a third of a pound of Angus, with everything. That's sautéed mushrooms and onions, bacon, cheddar, lettuce and tomatoes. And there's the Prairie scramble - design your own eggs with your choice of omelet ingredients.

We have a full breakfast menu with lots of standards, and well-rounded lunch offerings - soups, salads, sandwiches - but we're probably most famous for our scones. You could stretch it and say they have simple, clean lines, like Prairie School architecture. They're my specialty. I do raspberry, blueberry, cranberry-lemon, butterscotch pecan and chocolate chip, among others. I also do muffins, cinnamon rolls, filled croissants, cookies - and right now there's a beautiful marble cheese torte in the refrigerated case.

Quiche is my other bestseller. Today I made one with roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, fresh basil and mozzarella, and another with Canadian bacon, red pepper and Swiss. When those ran out I did one with smoked turkey, broccoli and cheddar. I try to always have both a vegetarian and a meat version, and to vary them - that keeps 'em interesting.

I wasn't a baker when I came here six years ago. I used to manage the front of the house at the Canterbury Books cafe, though I did take over the kitchen for a while. Mostly, I was making soups and specials. But years ago I worked at Ovens of Brittany, and my mom was a pretty good baker. She taught me a lot, and I picked up a lot more when I came to Prairie Cafe.

You're kind of a secret, tucked away out here in the rolling prairie hills of the far west side.

When I came here we were the lone standing building on this corner. It was all woods. I used to see deer out the window. I still see wildlife out there. There was a fox in the parking lot not long ago. But now there are fewer animals and more mixed-use buildings. It's been interesting watching the neighborhood grow.

The whole idea of Middleton Hills is community, and the cafe is part of the concept. It's a neighborhood meeting place. It's the only restaurant in the vicinity, not counting the new Starbucks and pizza place across the street. And everyone in the neighborhood comes into this building to get their mail - the mailboxes are here.

We do get customers from all over town, but most of our regulars live or work within a mile of here. On any given day I can look around and know about 90% of my customers. A lot of 'em are in here every day. Me, I practically live here, but my home is on the east side. At first I thought I'd hate the commute, but it gives me a chance to plan my day. I sorta like it now!

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