Despite an array of eateries serving up breakfast, coffee and ethnic cuisine hiding in every crevice of the downtown Madison area, an establishment that serves a decent crepe has been curiously absent. Bradbury?s, the new cafe on North Hamilton Street ? halfway between Cafe Montmarte and Pinkus McBride ? seeks to remedy that. An attractive sign painted on their west window declares the modus operandi of their simplistic menu: coffee, espresso and crepes.
Although the name Bradbury?s sounds a bit stuffy compared to the average Madison college coffeehouse, the name comes from the owners? friends in England, which inspired the cafe?s high-end fare. Inside, the decor is a heterogeneous mixture of sheet metal, white pine and concrete rafters, from which music from Spoon and other coffeehouse-friendly bands play quietly from a small boombox. A few tables and shelf seating by the shop?s large picture windows fill up the small storefront area, and along the front counter Ethiopian and Peruvian blends of Kickapoo brand coffee are cheerfully displayed. The overall aesthetic is friendly but a touch too sterile, hopefully a work in progress as the shop settles in.
Despite the shop?s Spartan menu and decor, the food is anything but simple. Bradbury?s specializes in double ristretto espresso (less ounces with a bolder flavor), served either straight up or in various combinations of milk and cream. Non-coffee drinkers will also find various teas, including a spiced masala chai, as well as hot chocolate. If you really want to experience Bradbury?s, however, it?s all about the crepes.
The ham, brie and spinach ($5) is served on a fluffy pancake-like crepe folded in half, resembling an omelet. The ham is lean and sweet, and the soft brie and fresh spinach are perfectly complimented by a sweet filling of maple syrup. Other highlights include an apple, bacon and cheddar crepe and a spinach, bleu cheese and walnuts crepe.
For desert, the raspberry and lemon crepe ($3.50) comes as two tight rolls, mimicking the way Croatian crepes ? or palacinke ? are traditionally served. Filled with fresh raspberry preserves and a hint of lemon, the crepe is sweet and tangy without being too tart. There is also a Nutella crepe, the Croatian specialty, which comes with a choice of raspberries or bananas.
The fresh and carefully arranged ingredients make the crepes stand leagues out from the regular coffeehouse sandwiches and lemon bars. Bradbury?s is committed to buying local Wisconsin produce from wherever it can, and the menu prominently displays the names of local farms alongside each entree, a la L?Etoile. The bleu cheese and three year cheddar, for example, come care of Hook’s Farm, whose stand can be found each week during the Dane County Farmers? Market.
Like State Street?s Sunroom Cafe, Bradbury?s is on the upper echelon of typical college-student fare. Those with heartier appetites, however, might find it difficult to make a whole lunch out of it, and ? like the Sunroom ? the light, slightly pricy fair comes with a bit of sticker shock. Still, the prices here are a bit easier to swallow when one remembers even a mundane strawberry bar at Espresso Royale will set you back $2.50.
All in all, if you?re looking for a delicious indulgence you can?t find elsewhere downtown, Bradbury?s has everyone else beat.
Bradbury?s hours run Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.