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in Madison, WI
by Jeff Muendel - December 2016

Photo Caption: Julep on E. Washington Avenue in Madison - photo by Julep website

Julep on E. Washington Avenue in Madison - photo by Julep website

Julep is one of several small restaurants and bars clustered within one address on an up-and-coming section of East Washington Avenue not far from the capital. Entering from the street, Julep is at the end of the space, and it opens up nicely with a clean and pleasantly lit area with a long bar designed to reflect the Southern focus of the establishment. An outdoor patio, part of the larger Robinia Courtyard, completes the place, and is the preferred seating during warmer months. Acoustic acts play on certain evenings with the events reflected on the Julep Facebook page.

Let’s get to the menu. It is relatively small, which tends to be reassuring to this reviewer. With less than twenty items on the entirety of the menu, ordering is not complicated and the limited focus tends to make for higher quality dishes. None of them stray far from the restaurant’s Southern-style roots. Snacks range from simple cornbread and buttermilk biscuits to more adventurous morsels like Salt & Vinegar Pork Rinds and Grilled Virginia Oysters. Topping the snacks are the Nashville Hot Frog Legs, which easily hop to the top of the list of frog leg dishes in Madison. Larger than snack portions, but not quite full dinners, the Little Plates on the menu offer a new set of fun and delicious options. Chicken and Biscuits, with it’s peppered gravy, is a great standby. Fried Green Tomatoes can be fun, and the Field Pea Salad is hearty for a salad, but the Jerk Spiced Scallops, served over red rice with butternut squash, really make the grade.

If you’re dining on Southern food, the default is a large plate of food. The dinner section of the menu represents that, though a dinner dish augmented by a snack or small plate (perhaps shared) may be the way to go at Julep. Every one of the six dinner dishes on the menu looked delectable, and all those sampled were. The fried chicken thighs will make one rethink the need for chicken breasts. Charleston Shrimp & Grits are (if you like grits) outstanding as are the chicken fried short ribs with sweet potatoes. It is the Perlou dish - with andouille sausage, oysters, smoked fish,and rice grits - that stood out most with layer after layer of taste and consistencies. And, of course, you can enjoy a Julep with your meal if you so choose, though a lighter craft beer or wine might do better. Any way you wash it down, this is good Southern eating in the middle of Madison.

829 E. Washington
Madison, WI 53703 (608) 237-1904

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