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

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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