Welcome to Open Road — Eater's road-trip series that spotlights a region of the country and its standout dining cities. Up first in this new season: a hungry trek through the Great Lakes region of the beautiful Midwest.
Madison, Wisconsin is a picturesque college town, situated on an isthmus, surrounded by rich farmland. I visited Madison to review one of its longstanding fine-dining institutions L’Etoile, but when traveling across the country for a story, I can never help myself from exploring the breadth of a town’s food scene. One of the restaurants I kept thinking about in Madison was Forequarter, housed in a snug building on a quiet residential street.
The restaurant brings together so many of the best elements of Midwestern food. It’s a place to indulge in a pungent version of cheddar cheese spread just as much as it’s a destination for tasting fresh sausages that hearken to Wisconsin’s waves of German immigrants, both dishes reflecting the next-level talents of chef Jonny Hunter and his crew. They excel with vegetables (used fresh but also expertly pickled), but this team really knows how to cure and cook meat. (No surprise, since the collective that runs the restaurant also operates a butcher shop called Underground Meats.)
Your next time in Madison, head to Forequarter for the skillfully made charcuterie, a massive pork chop, and dishes like sausage with apple, sauerkraut, and beer mustard. My Madison food buddy Kyle Nabilcy would also remind you that the late-night menu includes a righteous double cheeseburger.