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Underground Kitchen is sublime

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Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby swoon_queen » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:58 am

The title of this thread says it all. I could gush about the place all morning, but suffice to say, I've been there three times and each time, I didn't want to leave, and had the recurring urge to order just one more thing. One dining companion remarked astutely, "This is what Graze tries to be-- the problem is that they're *trying*." The crew at Underground makes it seem effortless even as they're placing in front of you plate after plate of farm fresh, inventive yet authentic food. Everything from the craft cocktails to the unbelievably good desserts seems at once meticulous and on the fly. And I have to mention beautiful. The serving platters and cocktail glasses, the silverware, the mason jars full of fresh radishes, the tiny cardamom cookies atop your bill-- all these little touches make the full experience even more enjoyable. Refreshingly, the portions are generous yet the prices are reasonable. 3 of us went after a cheese plate that was, I think, $16? and could barely finish its 5 different kinds of cheese, honeycomb, pistachios, figs, and breads, making it a much better value than the comparably priced, way smaller, less adventurous plate at Old Fashioned.

As a former Montmartre employee with a few years' worth of memories in that space, I was wary of the redesign, but the overall atmosphere is comfortable and warm. The cream-colored walls and light wood flooring definitely open the place up a bit, though it retains the cozy subterranean feel that lent the Momo much of its appeal.

I could go on and on-- sour cream and concord grape ice cream cone was the highlight of last night's excursion! the wine list is fantastic!-- but it'd be great to hear other thoughts.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby snoqueen » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:14 pm

Just one: it's nice to see a regular forum contributor talk about a new restaurant, instead of a drive-by posting.

Much good luck to this new venture.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby drinkinblackcoffee » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:30 pm

Could you clarify - this place is in the old Momo space? Thanks for the well written review, you've got me plenty intrigued.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby green union terrace chair » Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:43 pm

drinkinblackcoffee wrote:Could you clarify - this place is in the old Momo space? Thanks for the well written review, you've got me plenty intrigued.


Yes it is. The whole Montmartre + Sidecar.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby ilikebeans » Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:21 pm

What have they done with the stage, PA system, and lights?
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby TheBookPolice » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:06 pm

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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby lysander » Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:39 pm

ilikebeans wrote:What have they done with the stage, PA system, and lights?


Speakers are being used to subliminally transmit the sound "OM NOM NOM NOM". You have to be there to believe it.

Fuck, I have such a food boner for this place.

Thumbs up to the latest wave of Capitol foodie stuff.

Gastropub hopping > barhopping.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby swoon_queen » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:21 am

The stage is completely gone. So is any evidence of a PA or sound booth. The wide open kitchen starts about 2-3 feet before where the sound booth used to be, surrounded by a ledge about 4 feet high. It's pretty cool to see the chefs putting plates together over there.

Ironically, last night we were headed to Old Fashioned, figuring we wouldn't have much of a wait on a Wednesday. Wrong-- it was an hour. So we went to Underground yet again. Got a table right away (6:30 pm) but shortly thereafter the place was packed with people continually pouring through the doors. My daughter enjoyed the sweet/spicy chicken wings ($4) and the crostini of the day with Pleasant Ridge Reserve, prosciutto, and dijon ($5). We all split a veggie plate, which changes up frequently ($12). Last night it included a turnip/feta salad, marinated peppers and beans, a delicious romanesco/cauliflower/sunflower seed salad, a celeriac remoulade, and a variety of really great breads. I got the roasted lamb with mesclun salad and fresh garlic ($10). Rustic, filling comfort food. I have a hard time justifying spending the $5-$10 more per entree at Graze now but as lysander mentioned, gastropub hopping around the square is pretty tempting these days!
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby MadMind75 » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:41 pm

TheBookPolice wrote:Pictures are available here:
http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/artic ... icle=30926

Looks like they really brightened up the place. But what is it with this trend of wood... everything? From the floor and/or paneling to the bar to the tables, similar to Cooper's Tavern. I'm just not feelin' it.

Seriously though, that location would've made a terrific, albeit small, posh & urban Gentlemen's Club :lol:
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby Marvell » Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:44 am

MadMind75 wrote:But what is it with this trend of wood... everything? From the floor and/or paneling to the bar to the tables, similar to Cooper's Tavern. I'm just not feelin' it.


Are you saying you're not feeling wood?

No wonder yer always looking for a 'Gentlemen's Club'...
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby MHicks » Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:24 pm

Agreed food is outstanding. Prices reasonable. Some serious kinks in service that are hopefully being worked out. The food was so good I almost didnt mind the very long waits between courses. We were there for 2 and a half hours for dinner on a busy Friday. Every single dish was prepared perfectly. Just slow.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby Average Joe » Fri Oct 29, 2010 5:58 pm

MHicks wrote:We were there for 2 and a half hours for dinner on a busy Friday.


I haven't been there yet, but if it takes 2 1/2 hours to turn a table they are headed for some serious trouble as it's going to drastically cut into their profit potential if they are not able to maximize their space. At 2 1/2 hours per table it's hard to imagine how they can get more than one check per table a night. An efficiently run restaurant should be able to turn a table at least three times during a Friday evening dinner period. Hopefully they will work on that and be able to make a decent profit for the space. That said, I'm eager to check the place out.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Oct 29, 2010 6:06 pm

MadMind75 wrote:Looks like they really brightened up the place. But what is it with this trend of wood... everything? From the floor and/or paneling to the bar to the tables, similar to Cooper's Tavern. I'm just not feelin' it.


So there is a wood bar, wood floors and wood tables. Walls are brick and the ceiling looks like plaster. I think 90% of restaurants in Madison have the same look. What restaurants in Madison don't have the 3 wood combo? I really don't know what you're taking about. The white walls and ceiling actually make it look very different than other places. I'm looking forward to checking it out.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby MadMind75 » Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:25 pm

Stebben84 wrote:So there is a wood bar, wood floors and wood tables. I think 90% of restaurants in Madison have the same look. What restaurants in Madison don't have the 3 wood combo? I really don't know what you're taking about.

Maybe it's the fact that they're all of similar light in tone.
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Re: Underground Kitchen is sublime

Postby Petro » Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:16 pm

I'd been reading about the amazing dinners that these guys were pulling off for quite some time now, so last spring I made the attempt to reach out and hire them as caterers.

Caterers for a very important event for my family.

The initial email was seemingly ignored. After waiting for about a week, I went ahead and called their contact number.

I was greeted with a gentlemen who I'd apparently woken up in the middle of the afternoon. He immediately excused himself by telling me that he'd been stricken with the flu - sure, ok.

I spent a few minutes with him outlining just what I wanted, the rough headcount (60+) and the location (90 miles from Madison) - in response, I was greeted with a rather high ballpark figure on cost (I didn't flinch. I was ready to spend.) and assurances that I'd hear back to set a time for a more formal meeting within days.

I never heard anything. Not an email. Not a call. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

We wound up hiring someone local that didn't exemplify all of the things I'd been looking for when hiring caterers for my mother's memorial service. It wasn't what I wanted, but they were adult enough to return phone calls and show up on time.

I certainly hope they've improved their notions of what customer service entails since then. Personally? I'm hoping they haven't. I'll be the first to dance on their graves.
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