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The backstory: Brasserie V, the European-style eatery on Monroe Street, has gained an American-style sister restaurant in Longtable Beer Café, which Matt and Andrea Van Nest opened in Middleton in late 2017. Matt, who owns both restaurants with his wife, Andrea, says part of the idea behind Longtable was wanting to open a place that reminded them of the fun they have when gathering with friends to share food and beer.
The vibe: Longtable is an ode to the literal long tables (the longest measuring 23 feet and made from a single piece of wood) in the restaurant located in a new mixed-use building on Hubbard Avenue. That savory barbecue smell that hits you when you walk in is courtesy of the in-house smoker. Head chef Joshua Chavez has some barbecue experience from his time working in Chicago. Walking in, you’ll also be greeted by a wall-sized cooler of beers, featuring a mix of European, domestic and local labels. “We hand-selected what we think are some of the best beers from breweries around the country [and world],” says Matt. You’ll place your order at the counter (or order a cocktail or glass of wine at the bar) before returning to a shared table, perfect for large groups.
The menu: The communal dining atmosphere mirrors the shared-plate focus of the menu. Customize shareable boards by mixing and matching charcuterie, cheese and more—and all six boards spotlight local products. Among sandwich options, you’ll find smoked-in-house brisket and pulled pork. The double-fried Belgian-style frites are one of the only carryovers from Brasserie V. Sausages, soups and made-in-house sides round out the menu.
The must-try: The goat cheese puffs (aka sophisticated cheese curds) are too good to share. Light, fluffy goat cheese is enveloped in a crispy puff pastry shell and seasoned with honey and sage.
The bottom line: Longtable offers upscale options in a laid-back locale, which Matt aptly describes as like being at a picnic or backyard barbecue. It’ll be even better when the garage and accordion doors retract in warmer weather for outdoor seating.
7545 Hubbard Ave., Middleton, 841-2337
Andrea Behling is managing editor of Madison Magazine.