COMFORT FOOD CRAWL
Remember Grandma’s chili? Dad’s mac ‘n’ cheese? Mom’s pot pie? Comfort food is about more than taste, and Greater Madison’s food scene is full of ways to merge memories with hearty meals! Below are just a few dishes to try—and the why behind each recipe.
Irish Cheddar Mac, Brocach
This one seems like a no-brainer since Madison resides in the Dairy State. But Brocach wanted to put their Irish spin on this childhood classic.
Brocach’s chefs introduced their version of this creamy entrée in January 2015 and customers won’t let them take it off the menu! A thick, three-cheese blend is made to order and woven into a bed of twisting cavatappi noodles. Then, there’s an option to kick it up an Irish notch with your choice of locally produced banger sausage, smoked bacon or corned beef. “People love it when you take mac ‘n’ cheese seriously,” says General Manager Marcos Jimenez. Give it a try and discover this true comfort dish that will stick to your bones the same way it has to Brocach’s menu.
Chicken Pot Pie, Buck & Badger
Log Cabin siding, antler chandeliers and a roaring fireplace wrapped in river rock make stepping into Buck & Badger’s State Street location feel more like a teleport into Wisconsin’s North Woods. And the menu is made to match. “The idea is simple: comfort food,” says General Manager Amanda Bauer.
Buck & Badger’s Chicken Pot Pie feels like home. Which is exactly why it’s on the menu. Freshly diced veggies join large chunks of pulled chicken—but the twist is what’s on top: chefs cover a steaming bowl with an inch-thick hot and flaky puff pastry. It’s so crisp, you’ll hear your spoon break through with a buttery crunch! “You’re thinking about when you’re a kid and your feet are sopping wet from building a snowman,” says Bauer. “And it’s that exact moment when your Grandma says, ‘here, eat this and warm up.’ ”
Sweet Potato Chili, The Coopers Tavern
This chili wraps you in a warm blanket of brothy goodness. “We’ve always wanted to do from-scratch, simple, rustic-style food,” smiles owner Peter McElvanna. The restaurant’s menu draws from McElvanna’s childhood across the pond in chilly Northern Ireland, where hearty soups and stews were the staple.
Chunky, yet firm sweet potatoes that are sourced locally provide substance, while black beans, carrots, celery, corn and secret spices create a full chili flavor for this vegetarian dish. The large bowl is topped off with a generous dollop of sour cream and accompanied with a thick wedge of spongy, sweet cornbread. One note, though: this dish only makes the menu during Madison’s cooler months, so make plans to cherish this one before spring is in full bloom.