Some people were sad to see Taco Bell go. For many, the memories were nauseating at best, but a certain die-hard group of fast food lovers lamented the loss of the State Street franchise. Another casualty, too, was Kentucky Fried Chicken. Most people, however, were perfectly happy to see the fast food chains go.
Madisonians have been spoiled. With so many restaurants to choose from, Colonel Sanders could hardly put up a fight. A Doritos Locos Taco was clearly no match for the other options, which are, in many cases, only a few steps away. As the two restaurants closed, people began to wonder what would take their place. Restaurant owners, with their eatery already established elsewhere in Madison, clearly had their eyes on the location.
Full of Bull may seem new to many University of Wisconsin students. In fact, it’s been around a few months, although it opened in the summer when most Badgers were away. Taco Bell and KFC shared a dingy exterior and posters on the windows covering much of the view. Full of Bull has open windows, and a clean, bright interior. To the observer, it looks like it opened yesterday.
Full of Bull is more than just red meat, but it certainly centers around sandwiches. Beyond them, there are a variety of sides and desserts. The sides range from more conventional choices, like fries, to pizza rolls and mozzarella sticks. Their desserts start with a base of frozen custard. The restaurant, with its sandwiches, sides and desserts, benefits from variety. This is not Chipotle where every dish is effectively a variant of the next. Every sandwich was clearly considered piece by piece, and even the bun varies depending on what type of sandwich is ordered. With the appetizers, some options feel out of place on the menu. But with the sandwiches, the variety makes each one its own and can provide a solid amount of choice. The result is distinctive.
As opposed to a normal sandwich shop, there’s a sort of understood assumption that each sandwich is made completely, not in modular parts. While they can be fiddled around with at the customer’s request, they’re best left as they are. Each sandwich’s uniqueness and range of flavors is certainly a distinguishing factor of the restaurant. Compared to other State Street eateries catering to a college-sized budget, Full of Bull falls slightly on the pricey side, given what Badgers have come to expect. A combo meal typically runs a little over $10, and the portions are hearty, but certainly not excessive.
The difference between other competitors, though, is a matter of a few dollars per meal. Full of Bull is also challenging a convention of similar eateries on State. Most restaurants leave the dessert to the various ice cream shops and confectioners dotting the street or provide unimpressive offerings like cookies to tack on to the end of the meal. Full of Bull offers custards for students looking for an after-meal indulgence. Much like the sandwich options, the custards offer a substantial range of choice both in flavor and format.
One of the curious facets of State Street is the uniformity of its shops and restaurants. There are maybe half a dozen cafes, multiple ice cream and frozen yogurt locations, three or four places to get a burrito, etc. Yet another restaurant opening on State Street seems unlikely, even if it’s replacing two old ones. Regardless, Full of Bull offers frozen custard, a dessert that appears to be universally loved by Wisconsinites. While sandwiches are the centerpiece, it might be that many of their customers come to the restaurant looking for a familiar taste that is surprisingly hard to find near campus.
Full of Bull isn’t using a radically different formula to try and find success, but there are a few unique characteristics that just might give it the edge it needs to make some elbow room in an already restaurant-saturated location. Hopefully, UW students — maybe even the ones mourning the loss of Colonel Sanders — are wishing that a restaurant doesn’t live up to its name.
Full of Bull is located at 534 State St. For hours and menu, visit www.fullofbullroastbeef.com.