Cuisine: Contemporary American
Location: 108 King St.
With its delectable menu and sleek interior, 43 North is sure to be a classy dining experience. If you’ve dined in Restaurant Muramoto or Sushi Muramoto, you’ve likely experienced the attention to detail and to flavor experimentation typical of owner Shinji Muramoto’s establishments. On 43 North’s Restaurant Week menu, you’ll find three succulent and interesting choices of main courses: salmon, veal breast and game hen, each expertly presented with carefully chosen culinary complements. Although it’s an American restaurant, 43 North’s Asian influences are apparent in the first course options of pork belly with celery kimchi and miso-gochujang, as well as in the farmhouse salad, which includes mizuna, a Japanese green. With an enticing array of desserts, including avocado cake garnished with rosemary caramel and strawberry tartar, guests are sure to walk away satisfied.
The Blue Marlin
Cuisine: Seafood, American
Location: 101 N. Hamilton St.
Seafood lovers will be in paradise at The Blue Marlin. Both the first and second course offerings are based solely on salmon, trout and various shellfish. The honey-marinated salmon main course is artfully accented with some of nature’s most healthy and wholesome ingredients, wild rice and Swiss chard. If you crave spicy food, try the curried crab soup followed by the diablo shrimp pasta, or start with steamed mussels with chorizo. The freshness of The Blue Marlin’s fish will make you feel like you’re seaside. Lose yourself in these maritime reveries and treat yourself to a fun, fruity dessert, like the Key Lime pie or raspberry sorbet. If fruit’s not your thing, try the toffee crème brulee.
Cuisine: Irish, Pub
Location: 7 W. Main St.
A downtown favorite, Brocach is one of few participating restaurants offering more than three options for the main course. Besides its delicious food, Brocach offers a unique dining experience — it’s fully furnished to look like an authentic Irish pub, except with much more seating to accommodate its solid popularity. Satisfy your appetite with Irish favorites like fish and chips, Shepherd’s Pie, including a vegetarian option, bangers and mash or corned beef and cabbage. Although it’s not included in the Restaurant Week menu, consider ordering a Guinness or a fine Irish whiskey to complement your meal. Finally, complete your culinary tour of the Emerald Isle with Bailey’s cheesecake, Guinness chocolate cream pie or classic bread pudding.
Cuisine: Steak, Seafood
Location: 9 E. Wilson St.
Capitol ChopHouse offers lunch and dinner Restaurant Week pricing, with each menu offering a little something for everyone. While the menu is fairly standard as far as steakhouses go, many dishes have a creative twist, featuring locally sourced ingredients. Though Capital ChopHouse is part of a chain, you wouldn’t know it. Chef Craig Summers integrates ingredients from Madison and the rest of Wisconsin into the dishes. At lunch, try the portobello tart with wild mushroom, quinoa, cranberries and walnuts. Or if you crave something a bit more savory, try to the grilled chicken with sage accompanied by mixed grain rice and herb au jus. At dinner, consider ordering the roast duck breast with Swiss chard and plum sauce.
Capital Tap Haus
Location: 107 State St.
Enjoy your meal in the Capital Tap Haus’ exquisitely decorated rustic interior, illuminated by the warm glow of lantern lights. Capital Tap Haus excels at Wisconsin favorites, and you’ll find Taste of Madison award-winning items, such as Reuben rolls and Capital Dark BBQ pulled pork on the menu. If Reuben rolls aren’t your thing, start off the meal with flavorful garlic parsley frites. At dinner, Capital Tap Haus offers cheese curd apple fritters as a starter option. Treat yourself to the grilled flank steak at dinner or its sandwich counterpart at lunch. Whether it is lunch or dinner, indulge in apple pie eggrolls or the apple turnover at the end of your meal.
Location: 227 State St.
Located on top of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Fresco touts itself as the most romantic restaurant in Madison. Fresco’s Restaurant Week menu offers selections appealing to both lighter and heavier palates, as well as those that utilize local staples. For example, the Wisconsin apple salad features Hook’s Blue Paradise cheese, from the award-winning Hook’s Cheese Company in Mineral Point, Wis. Menu highlights include carrot soup, seared mahi-mahi and ricotta cheese gnocchi with brown butter herb crème. The mahi-mahi features an interesting array of flavors — roasted cauliflower risotto, almond and raspberry vinaigrette. For a unique treat to finish off the dining experience, try the house-made Kit-Kat with peanut butter mousse.
Cuisine: Farm-to-table, French-inspired
Location: 1 S. Pinckney St.
Restaurant Week is a great time to try swanky L’Etoile’s less formal and less expensive counterpart, Graze. The food is all locally sourced and organic, and Graze’s rustic interior is a nod to the farmers the restaurant works with closely. The menu includes authentic French dishes, like Lyonnaise salad, shellfish bouillebasse and ragout. Each dish features tantalizingly fresh garnishes. You’ll also find a Southwestern-inspired dish: chili-braised pork shoulder with sautéed spinach, cheddar grits and lime crème fraiche. For an adventurous dessert, try the strawberry panna cotta served with pistachio biscotti and citrus honey, or the apple almond tart drizzled in raspberry sauce. For a safer but still delectable option, Graze offers banana-chocolate chip pudding with caramel sauce.
Location: 21 N. Pinckney St.
From the very first glance at the menu, it is clear that Harvest lives up to its name. Vegetable lovers will enjoy this intimate restaurant that features locally sourced produce in every dish. The main vegetarian entrée, house-made potato cavatelli, comes with crimini mushroom confit, braised red onion and mushroom cream. A vegan option is also available. Don’t worry, carnivores, there’s something for you, too. Choose between roasted chicken and white bean stew or braised beef short ribs with leek-sour cream potato puree, grilled bacon and Worcestershire au jus. Harvest also offers an equally tempting group of desserts. Choose from brown butter panna cotta with poached pear, smoked apple pound cake with a buttermilk custard cream, house-made stout gelato with almond-chocolate biscotto or house-made blood orange-gin tea sorbet.
Cuisine: Italian, farm-to-table
Location: 2500 University Ave.
Lombardino’s Restaurant Week selections are an outstanding tribute to its Italian roots. For an appetizer, consider the uniquely Italian antipasta misti or the ribollita, a Tuscan white bean soup. For a unique twist on a restaurant staple, try Lombardino’s signature Caesar salad, featuring lemon-anchovy dressing garnished with anchovy, olive tapenade and hard-cooked egg. For a creamy flavorful entrée, you might enjoy the marsala mushrooms with linguine, featuring fresh ingredients like mushrooms, sage and shallot with a roasted garlic cream. Finally, feast your eyes — and your taste buds — on the olive oil orange cake with blood orange sorbet, the sour cream panna cotta — custard served with Door County cherry and oat crumble — or a classic tiramisu. Lombardino’s also offers an optional wine pairing for an additional $14.
Cuisine: European-inspired, farm-to-table
Location: 111 S. Hamilton St.
A culinary treasure tucked away on Hamilton Street, Nostrano is not afraid to play with flavors. For example, the squash soup has cocoa, maple, sage and pumpkin-based ingredients. The bleu mont cheese salad, another delicious way to begin the meal, contrasts pickled pears with walnut sourdough. If you’re in the mood to try a new delicacy, a game bird terrine (similar to a pâté) is a first course offering for both lunch and dinner. A standout entrée selection is the orecchiette, a type of round pasta combined with chicken sausage, broccolini and pesto. One look at the menu is sure to arouse your taste buds, especially when your eyes reach the basque cake, baked ganache and affogato dessert options.
Location: 425 N. Frances St.
If you’re in the mood to clog your arteries or want a meal that will tide you over for the week, Porta Bella is the spot. A majority of the menu items are “stuffed” — stuffed mushrooms, stuffed pork loin, stuffed shrimp, two kinds of stuffed steak and, to finish the meal off, two different kinds of stuffed cannoli. For dinner, choose between the steak braciola, the pork loin, the crab stuffed shrimp or the New York strip and you’re sure to get your money’s worth. Before you eat your way to carnivorous bliss, snack on a salad, the stuffed mushrooms or the spinach artichoke dip. If you saved room for dessert, and hopefully you will, Porta Bella offers a lemon dreamsicle gelato and a chocolate tartufo, in addition to the stuffed canoli options.
Steenbock’s on Orchard
Location: 330 N. Orchard St.
Located in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building, Steenbock’s on Orchard is a relatively new restaurant. Don’t let its rookie status fool you — Steenbock’s delivers full flavors complemented by seasonal, farm-to-table ingredients. At lunch, you’ll find these flavors featured in a soup selection made that same day. Another example of Chef Michael Pruett’s use of seasonal ingredients is the creamy risotto, a first course offering at dinner, made with mushroom, hazelnut and brown butter. Main course dinner highlights include pappardelle with enoki cream sauce and truffle and the Viking village scallop dish. For a high-end twist on steak and potatoes, try the grilled beef flat iron served with roasted pearl onion and pommes puree. At the end of the meal, indulge in carrot cake drizzled in carrot caramel or a smooth crème brulee.