Tag Archives: Sprecher restaurant

Let’s do Lunch: Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub

15 Mar

Considering what seems like half of the search hits to this blog have come from queries related to my earlier posts on the impending opening of Sprecher’s Restaurant & Brewery, I figured it was high time I made an appearance to get the lay of the land.  Sunday lunch with Pops seemed like a good time to see what they’ve done with the former Houlihan’s space.  Now I’m not sure I ever went to that particular Houlihan’s but based on the Wisconsin Dells location I’m sure it was lots of booths and dark wood and lamps and appeteasers.

The location, on John Q. Hammonds Drive in Middleton, is pastoral meets office park and the building itself is your standard national chain-style box.  Inside, they’ve done a respectable job of creating a comfortable dining and drinking atmosphere with a mix of table and booth seating and display cases of German beer glassware flanking the large U-shaped bar.  Several flat-screen TVs in the bar area were showing typical Sunday afternoon sports fare, namely golf and World’s Strongest Man re-runs on The Deuce.  The walls of the bar area were adorned with impressionist-style “paintings” depicting scenes from around Madison including Camp Randall and the Memorial Union Terrace.  It’s a nice reminder that even though I’m in a bar/restaurant between a field and an office park that I’m still technically in Madison.

Their selection of Sprecher beers on-tap was surprisingly robust with 14 offerings including year-round, seasonal and special releases in addition to 4 draft sodas (even more beer and soda available by the bottle).  In my post-racquetball tournament body coma, the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Doppelbock was my poison of choice today.  Served in a snifter, this doppelbock went down silky smooth thanks to the softness imparted by the oak and bourbon and finished with a vanillin’-laced malty sweetness.  I’m glad to see them really committing to carrying the entire Sprecher catalog.

The menu spans the familiar territory of soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches, with a selection of flatbreads and entrees ranging from steak and ribs to a “Thai Peanut Bowl”.  The eclectic menu evokes similar wide-ranging ethnic-fusion dishes present on the Great Dane’s menu which also includes a peanut stew and Ahi tuna salad.  The lightness of the latter dish appealed to my weary digestive system and overall “morning-after” disposition.  It mimicked the Dane’s rendition in the execution of its sesame-seared tuna, peanuts and crispy wonton strips, but veered from the Thai theme with the inclusion of a chile-lime dressing and jicama.  It was crisp and refreshing, if somewhat less inspired than some other versions I’ve had.  My dad opted for the Sunday brunch buffet which included a selection of standard breakfast meats and sides, prime rib and a design-your-own-omelet station.  He was feeling a little under-the-weather and didn’t end up indulging with his usual gusto, but said it was otherwise satisfactory and comparable to similar brunch buffets around town.

I think the place has potential to do great business with the built-in office park crowd and nearby lifestyle shopping centers and the Sprecher brand name certainly carries a certain caché among those who dabble in the craft beer scene.  It would certainly be a place I would stop in after work or drop by if I was in the area, though I doubt its location would land it on my regular nightlife rotation.  I can’t help but continue to think of Sprecher’s as a sort of Great Dane Lite for the Far West Set, which is certainly no major slight to Sprecher’s as they could pick far worse establishments from which to draw inspiration.  I foresee some post-shift Sprecher-sipping in the near future now that I have a decent beer spot between my two places of employment.

Heads/Up(date): Sprecher’s Pub and Vintage Brewing Set to Open this Week

19 Jan

January is turning out to be a big month for Madison-area beer lovers as no less than 3 new beer-friendly establishments are opening their doors.  As I mentioned yesterday, The Coopers Tavern brought its take on an Irish gastropub to the square last week and business has been brisk thus far.

Via Robin Shepard at the Isthmus, Sprecher’s Pub is set to open today, January 18th.  Might try to check it out after work one of the next couple nights.

Word on The Daily Page Forums says Vintage Brewing Company has finally opened shop in the former JT Whitney’s space.  Their spartan website has yet to confirm their opening, but does have their menu, which I must say has piqued my interest with an incredibly ambitious-looking spread spanning from “tapas” to sliders, tacos, an impressive list of sandwiches and burgers, entrees (fried chicken to gnocchi), and a selection of 6 house-made hot sauces.  If they can pull off a menu that diverse and put together a solid line-up of craft beers, they could stand to make a killing on the Near West Side.  More hard-hitting analysis once I’ve had a chance to check it out.  Needless to say, it’s a good time to be a Madison beer-lover.

Heads/Up(date): Sprecher Restaurant and New Westside Brewpub

18 Sep

A few new details regarding the new Sprecher-licensed restaurant and pub coming to the old Houlihan’s space on the Far West side from last night’s Alcohol License Review Committee meeting via Dane101‘s Michael Donnelly

Sprecher’s, 1262 John W Hammons Dr: The bar at this location after Houlihan’s closed in 2008 was only open for seven weeks before being evicted because they couldn’t pay their rent. Building owner Kevin Lederer decided he’d take matters into his own hands and open a restaurant and bar there.

Lederer contacted Wisconsin brewer Sprecher for permission to use their name and products at the new restaurant. The place will have a casual menu of American food and a family friendly atmosphere — the latter supported by the fact that Sprecher’s flagship product is a root beer. Lever has plans to return to the council in the spring to apply to expand to a sports patio, but he isn’t currently asking for a capacity increase.

Schumacher asked how much experience they had. Lederer responded that Sue Gergem, the agent on the license, operated Houlihan’s. He then asked why they had to sell American food when with the Sprecher name German food would make much more sense. The committee laughed and approved the license.

Doesn’t sound particularly exciting at this point, but given its location, the audience and vibe they’re going for is not surprising.  I’m with Schumacher in wishing they would go for a more authentic German feel with the menu.  Are there not enough places to get a burger or chicken strips on the West Side?  Please send all hate mail calling me an elitist hippie snob liberal commie for being snarky about West Side chain restaurants to: Complaints Dept c/o TGI McChangs & Lube, 666 Unnecessarily Windy Rd.

In other area beer news, it looks like the rumored brewpub slated to replace the defunct J.T. Whitney’s is shaping up.  Again, via Michael Donnelly:

Vintage Brewing Company, 674 S Whitney Way: Members of the Kraemer family run Vintage Spirits and Grill, downtown on the corner of University and Frances. Now they’re planning to pull in even more of their plan to open a new brew pub on the site of the old JT Whitney’s. In addition to the folks working downtown now, owner Trent Kraemer’s cousin (who he described as an award winning brewmaster) will brew the beer, his uncle will handle the finances, and they’ll grow hops and barley at his grandparents’ farm outside Madison. They plan to bring in local ingredients to use for the food.

The new bar would have lower capacity then Whitney’s did and they’re sacrificing some bar space for a larger banquet space in the back to support meetings and smaller weddings.

Clear supported with the stipulation that the requested entertainment license would only be used for the banquet space. Schumacher moved to approve with Clear’s condition, and the motion carried.

Very cool to see that at least a portion of the hops and malts will be grown at a local family farm and always good to see another (hopefully) quality beer establishment on the West Side.  While I never had a chance to sample a lot of J.T.’s offerings outside of a few festivals, most reviews were lukewarm at best.  With the Great Dane creeping further west with its Hilldale location, the new crew will have to step its game up as they will no longer be the only players in the West Side brewpub game.  Looking forward to checking them out in the future.

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