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February 2013 restaurant news: Dishcrawl, a roundup of special dinners
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Crawl space

The phenomenon of the "food tour" continues to grow. Madison, already home to two native outfits, Madison Food Explorers and Madison Eats, will see the launch of a branch of the national group Dishcrawl on March 20. It will be a four-restaurant "progressive dinner," says Madison's Dishcrawl "ambassador" Zachary Barnes. Dishcrawl started in San Francisco, and is now expanding to more "medium- to smaller-size markets" like Madison, says Barnes.

The names of three of the four restaurants to be visited remain a surprise, which "people enjoy," Barnes says. Participants get a special small-plate menu just for the event; expect more of a "mixer," says Barnes, not a "huge sit-down meal."

Special dinners

Naples 15 will host a five-course dinner on Feb. 11 featuring Neopolitan foods and wines from the historic Mastroberardino winery of Campania; pairings are by Dario Pennino of the winery. Reservations at 608-250-6330.

Harvest's Small Batch Bourbon Dinner on Feb. 22 includes a five-course menu paired with small-batch Kentucky bourbons. Reservations at 608-255-6075.

Osteria Papavero goes cheesy Feb. 18-23, with over 30 cheeses featured in specials and on the cheese board - five cheeses for the price of three, seven for five, and nine for seven. And they say that June is dairy month.

We've previously given a nod to the Branding Iron Roadhouse, a seemingly typical Wisconsin bar in Lime Ridge that serves local beers, local, pasture-raised beef in its burgers, and Carr Valley cheese. Branding Iron now may well be the first rural bar to host a chef's pop-up dinner - with chef Kimberly Anderson of Sundara Spa in Wisconsin Dells. Superb Supper Club Steak Night will feature Anderson's fermented vegetable dishes and Fearing angus beef. Dinner is Feb. 18; reservations required, 608-986-2807.

At Graze on Feb. 24, a four-course Craft Cocktail Dinner with Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz of Milwaukee's Bittercube artisanal bitters will feature paired cocktails. Also at Graze, on March 17 a benefit for the FEED Kitchens Project will showcase four courses paired with beers from Page Buchanan of House of Brews. Reservations at 608-251-2700.

Porchlight's Original Chefs Auction at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on March 5 will feature small plates from 11 Madison chefs (including Underground Food Collective, A Pig in a Fur Coat and Steenbock's on Orchard). There will also be cocktails, dancing and a live auction of chef's offerings, including private dinners. Proceeds fund Porchlight's shelter, housing and emergency assistance programs. Reservations at 608-257-2534, extension 20.

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