Settle Down (Madison, Wisconsin)

Alright, we’re almost at the end of the meal reports from our Madison trip in August. This was lunch on our second and last full day in the city. We’d spent the morning on a lake and once it got nice and hot—like really hot—we ventured forth in search of another restaurant with outdoor seating. Settle Down had been on the list—thanks to another recommendation in the comments from Todd who’d also recommended Ian’s Pizza—but after the non-appearance of the advertised outdoor seating at the Old Fashioned the previous evening we were taking nothing for granted, Thankfully, a phone call to Settle Down confirmed the existence of a lot of outdoor seating and on arrival we saw that it was indeed so. The entire street in front of the restaurant was closed to traffic and strewn with tables and chairs. We picked one and then another and then another before finally finding one that was completely out of the blazing sun. And then we ordered some food and got down to the eating of a pleasurable lunch. Herewith the details.

Settle Down is a casual place—one among a constellation of places located on the streets near the Capitol. Their menu comprises gastro pub’ish takes on upper Midwestern and other American food. They don’t have cheese curds per se here, for example, but they have cheese balls made a la hush puppies. Alongside a burger they have what they call a Polka Patty–sliced summer sausage in a burger bun wit sauerkraut etc. And so forth. The menu is well suited to dining with kids and we had no trouble finding things for everyone to enjoy.

What did we get? A few small things and a few larger things. The small things included an order of the aforementioned Cheese Puppies, an order of Devil Birds (deviled eggs with mustard and paprika panko) and an order each of the regular French Fries (served with paprika mayo) and the Ghost Fries (served with blue cheese dip and not very hot). For the large dishes the older boy got the Carolina Chicken Sandwich—it’s not on the menu so must have been a special that day—and the younger boy got the Good Idea burger. Both boys asked for most of the things that would have been in their sandwiches alongside the main course to be served on the side. The missus and I split the Polka Patty.

All the food was very tasty. It’s really stuff that’s optimized for eating with beer or one of their many bespoke cocktails but we had a museum to visit right after (the Chazen Museum at the University of Wisconsin is quite impressive and I recommend it highly). The boys got soft drinks and we drank water.

For a look at the menu, restaurant and the food launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it all cost, our thoughts on the experience as a whole and to see what’s coming next.

Service was friendly and, despite our being one of very tables seated outside, very present and on top of things. With tax and tip the total came to just about $75. Not a cheap meal on the go by any means but good food made with care and enjoyed by us all. If we lived in Madison I’d guess this would be a regular family spot. Thanks again to Todd for this recommendation as well.

Okay, one more Madison report to go and that one involves takeout sushi for dinner on this same day—dinner that got very complicated due to the weather and our unease about in-person dining with an unvaccinated child. More on that next weekend. And as it happens my next Twin Cities report will also involve sushi. That’ll be on Tuesday.



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