Three dishes to try morning, noon and night at Robinia

Try Black Locust Cafe, MadisonTap and Jardin

Back in 2015, there was Julep, the southern, fine-dining experience; Barolo, a dimly-lit, whisper-inspired wine bar with small plates; and the coffee shop A-OK, which, if it were an egg could only be described as sunny-side up–it was that bright and cheery. The gastronomic triple threat added life to an otherwise dark, but up-and- coming East Washington Avenue corridor. The trio, according to Robinia Restaurant Group developer Jonathan Reske, came to the corridor re-development party a bit too early. By the end of December, 2016 all three were shuttered.

And now, the Robinia Courtyard–the lively patio out back and the common area that held all three ventures together throughout the openings and the closings and kept the heart of the space beating with events throughout this past summer–is again enveloped by another three restaurant concepts.

In a phone conversation with Reske, he dished on his favorite menu item at each of the new restaurants, giving credit to the chef of all three, Brandon Reid.

For Breakfast: Jian Bing sandwich
At Black Locust Cafe, enjoy coffee and classic breakfast fare (plus three vegan bowls, too). One offering is Jian Bing, a crepe breakfast sandwich made in the spirit of China’s “breakfast street food,” in which “people eat walking to work,” says Reske. Chef Reid cooks an egg directly on the crepe and adds Hoisin, spicy chili sauce, cilantro, chive and wonton for texture.

For Happy Hour: Hinterland and the Duck Confit Taco
Replacing Barolo in the middle of the space is Madison Tap, which serves elevated pub food, Reske says. Every month, a different Wisconsin brewery takes over the taps. December’s tap takeover is Hinterland of Green Bay. Madison Tap is tapped out with a different brewery through May 2019, Reske says. And don’t overlook the bar food menu here. “For sure, the first place winner is the duck confit taco–a Brandon Reid original,” Reske says. He also recommends the sweet and sour duck wings, the lamb sliders with arugula and olive tapenade and the fried mushrooms–shitake, cremini and oyster which are sauteed, breaded, deep-fried and finished with a scallion vinaigrette.

Three dishes to try morning, noon and night at RobiniaFor Dinner: Lamb Pappardelle Pasta or Chili Shrimp Plate
At the back of the space is the restaurant Jardin, which Reske explains, “is the example of the trio’s cuisine philosophy of seasonality, Wisconsin produce and globally-influenced [dishes] with a focus on Spanish, Asian and Italian.” There’s a popular lamb pappardelle pasta special, in which Reid rolls his own pasta. Or try the Vietnamese chili shrimp plate, Reske says. And check out what he refers to as a “small but formidable drink menu.”