Exposed brick, reclaimed wood, subway tiles and Edison lightbulbs. This is just a taste of the what-is-old-is-new-again décor you might see in boutique restaurants sweeping through the state.
Like the boutique hotel, these eateries are often locally-owned, free of a formal dress code and feature a luxe feel without the lavish price. Get your Instagram filters ready; at these four boutique restaurants, atmosphere (and great food) reigns supreme.
Madison’s latest boutique restaurant is located in the former Isthmus newspaper building, just off the Capitol Square. Diners are immediately greeted with a bold honeycomb floor pattern that is quickly simmered by an open dining room filled with exposed brick, steel beams and tiered chandeliers.
Guests can sample craft cocktails at the bar or even meet someone new at the community-style dinner tables on the first floor. One floor up, diners get a birds-eye view of the popular space as they eat.
Lucille’s specialty is its pizza, which can be ordered wood-fired or steel pan-style. While the construction might be simple, the end result is a flavorful pizza made of unique ingredients like broccoli raab, heirloom cherry tomatoes or summer squash. Traditionalists will still find standard combos and a build-your-own section. Diners on the go can step up to the Lucille to-go window and order a homemade meal without the wait.
For a modern spin on ancient recipes and food preparation, look no further than The Cheel. Owners Barkha and Jesse Daily took their passion for Himalayan culture and cuisine and brought it home to Thiensville, where they serve traditional Nepalese dishes and fresh takes on American classics to food adventurers and enthusiasts looking to try something new.
On the menu you’ll find a selection of authentic Himalayan “tidbits” (small plates) and “bigbits” (entrees), all flavored with the spices and ingredients that give the cuisine its distinctive flair. Pair a plate of traditional momos (savory dumplings) with one of their many craft cocktails, or branch out with the bandel roganjosh, made of braised wild boar shoulder served over rice.
The Cheel’s location reflects its menu in its mix of old and new: modern lighting and a wraparound bar inside a beautifully restored, 19th century Victorian building. Regular live music performances and a cozy dining area give the restaurant a homey, comfortable atmosphere.
In 2005, Swig became Milwaukee’s first small-plate dining restaurant, and they’ve been delighting diners with creative and exciting bites ever since. A proud supporter of local farms and businesses, Swig makes every effort to include fresh, community-sourced ingredients in its dishes whenever possible.
Swig’s sharable menu invites you to sample a variety of flavors and cuisines, from wonton-wrapped chicken curry to lobster-stuffed roasted peppers, berry bruschetta, and tempura snap peas. The expansive drink list puts a focus on specialty cocktails, many of which are made with house-infused liquors.
Exposed brick walls, contemporary furnishings, a warm fireplace and a sleek, modern bar give the space a rustic but refined feel. In warmer months, sit towards the front of the restaurant, where a garage-style door is raised to reveal an outdoor seating area and views of Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward.
Located in rural New Glarus, Cow & Quince is devoted to showcasing the bounty of ingredients found right in their local community. Their seasonal menus are built around the cheeses, meats, vegetables and more from neighboring farms, providing a true “farm-to-table” dining experience in a casual environment.
Thin-crust pizzas are made with flour from a local mill and farm-fresh toppings, and regulars love the popular savory French toast – a thick cut of local brioche topped with gouda, jam, kale, Door County cherries, pork belly, and a sunny-side duck egg, all drizzled with maple roasted garlic vinaigrette.
Worn wooden tables, hardwood floors and farmhouse-style décor add to the simplicity and charm of this hidden gem, while modern touches like brightly colored chairs and exposed ductwork keep the space feeling fresh. And if you’re wondering where your food came from? Just ask – their knowledgeable staff is happy to tell you about the farmers whose products created your meal.