Vegetarian and vegan food is finally coming into its own in the Madison food world.

Everly, located on Monroe Street, is here to help Madisonians dive deeper into the concept of a meat-free meal, something that doesn’t have to be scary (or tasteless).

Everly is part of the ever reliable Food Fight restaurant group, but it stands out as a California-inspired and vegetable-focused restaurant. That’s not to say there isn’t meat because there is, but they strive to show Madison that a meal can still shine without a big chunk of meat.

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The restaurant is located where Bluephies used to be and is situated next to Miko Poke, another member of the Food Fight restaurant group that opened a few months ago.

The space is bright and simple with green plants and accents, and the menu is equally as simple and easy to navigate. Once diners begin reading through the menu options, however, simplicity goes out the window as one can easily get caught up in nearly every menu item.

The menu starts off with a section dedicated to dishes featuring vegetables, a bold choice considering veggies are usually relegated to supporting roles.

The vegetables are seasoned and cooked to perfection, rebranding typically unimpressive vegetables from rabbit food into a tasty appetizer or even a full meal. Unique ingredients like coconut milk or hazelnut brown butter create a flavor aura surrounding the fresh ingredients.

Further down the menu is something that is always a welcome option: sandwiches. This section of the menu seems like it’s there to hold the eater’s hand as they make their way through the menu. It’s always there as a back-up option in case the rest of the menu gets too intimidating. There is the always reliable chicken sandwich, but Everly also ventures out to a salmon sandwich with cranberries and a Nor-Cal sandwich with tahini and pickled vegetables.

The menu also features a pasta and grains section, grains being a keyword. This category is dominated more by the latter than the former. Their risotto, for example, is cooked perfectly al dente with the right amount of chewiness and will keep diners full for a long time.

Other features include small plates, a morning brunch section and cocktails as promising as the food.

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Everly’s sparing and strategic use of meat in the form of fresh fish or a perfectly placed egg makes every meal on the menu a dynamite option. Further, Everly delivers a few meat and seafood centric dishes such as beef tartare and steamed mussels that are hard to come by in the heart of Wisconsin. The effort put into this dynamic menu is obvious and the meals are proof.

The restaurant’s use of ingredients like garlic, mushrooms and artichoke to deliver the umami flavor that meat usually brings, creates dishes so good diners won’t even miss the meat. Though they make sure it’s still an option. Everly perfectly straddles the line between familiar and innovative, promising the opportunity to try a new take on meal time.