Tag Archives: capitol square food carts

Melted. An Urban Grilled Cheese Shop

Grilled Cheesus
Location: Capitol Square on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd (across from Dlux)
By: Kailey

Every year and every season, there’s a food trend. From cupcakes to cronuts and pumpkin-flavored everything, there seems to be an “it” food that appeals to everyone all at once and then mystifyingly, it disappears or it becomes so ingrained we can’t imagine life without it. Sometimes the trends are odd-I just recently heard about artisanal toast being all the rage-but a trend I fully understand and support is fancy grilled cheese. Once associated with Wonderbread and children’s menus, grilled cheese has been enjoying its moment in the spotlight (there’s even a grilled cheese competition) for a few years. Rightly so. It’s bread and cheese!

Due to the delightfulness that is grilled cheese, I’ve been anxiously awaiting Madison’s very own grilled cheese food cart: Melted. The cart is very mysterious – I tweeted their arrival to the Madison food cart scene in September 2012 when they were at Taste of Madison. Then they appeared at Taste of Madison 2013, but still no regular schedule or even internet presence. But finally, a few tweets and some local press later, it’s not a mirage. Melted food cart finally officially showed up on the Capitol Square on April 21, 2014.

Melted, the new grilled cheese cart

Melted, the new grilled cheese cart

The menu, as you might have guessed, contains an array of grilled cheese sandwiches with various themes and toppings. There were rumors of fries being offered as a side but those were not offered. Oh the choices! A big work group and I ordered almost every sandwich on the menu. We paid ($8/sandwich) and then we waited. And waited. Over 30 minutes later, we began receiving the first of our meals.

Menu at Melted. Miles of cheese.

Menu at Melted. Miles of cheese.

The whole look of the cart is great: I love the modern colors and no-nonsense logo. But the wait for our food was a bit much. A lot much. If there is going to be a 15+ minutes wait outside a cart some kind of heads up would be appreciated. A simple declaration of “thanks for ordering, just so you know it’s going to be about (insert time here) minutes” would solve this problem. Because after standing and waiting for over 30 minutes with no advance warning, our $8 sandwiches had a STILL DELICIOUS but slightly cranky taste to them.

Buy 10, get one free punch card

Buy 10, get one free punch card

A wide variety of grilled cheese

A wide variety of grilled cheese

I ordered the American Caprese which was good but pretty standard. Our favorite among the grilled cheeses was the special of the day: a Southwest Chicken grilled cheese. I wish there would have been a grilled cheese with goat cheese because…yum. All our boxes contained an adorable and tasty tomato soup to use as a side and dipping sauce. This was unexpected and a nice touch.

The American Caprese sandwich

The American Caprese sandwich

Everyone loved their meals and I’ll definitely be making trips back to work my way around the menu (plus, I’m a sucker for punch cards). Melted is a great addition to the food cart scene and once the process/wait time are remedied the fancy grilled cheese sandwiches will be even more enjoyable.

 

Deliciousness: 5/5 plates
Price: 1/5 plates
Speed: 0/5 plates (negative plates if I could)
Authenticity/Originality: 5/5 plates
OVERALL: 2.5/5 plates

Melted Twitter: https://twitter.com/meltedmadison
Melted Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melted/693259757355739

Other Melted Reviews:
What Isthmus said
What Cap Times said

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Fried and Fabulous

Good Fry-day
Location: Capitol Square at East Main Street and King Street
By: Kailey

On Good Friday, I decided to be particularly punny and visit Fried and Fabulous. Fried. On a Friday. Good Fry. Day.

Fried and Fabulous is a food cart mainstay. They’re out all the time – late night, lunch, Farmers’ Market Saturdays. You really have no excuse not to visit. Their new 2014 lunchtime spot is on the corner of Main and King near Walgreens on the Capitol Square, in beloved Blowin’ Smoke Barbeque’s old spot.

Fried and Fabulous on Capitol Square for lunch

Fried and Fabulous on Capitol Square for lunch

I asked many a coworker to go to lunch at Fried and Fabulous with me and was shot down. Will I be eating Twinkees for lunch? Are you kidding, why would I want a mound of fried stuff for lunch? The only one brave enough (and smart enough) to attend was Megan. I think it’s the name of the cart that turns the office dwellers off (not the college kids though, college kids would never mind that name). They’re missing out because the lunch menu is delicious, creative and yes, not extremely healthy, but it’s also not roll-around-in-gravy-then-deep-fry-a-Snickers levels of gluttony.

I believe lunch can be an indulgence once in a while and Fried and Fabulous is just the place to partake in such a meal. Want a Caesar salad with cheese curds on top? Go nuts. A nice Mandarin Sesame sandwich with deep-fried mushrooms? I won’t judge. Megan and I settled on the Sweet Chili Lime salad with popcorn shrimp and the Bacon Ranch salad with popcorn chicken. And because the shrimp and chicken just wasn’t fried enough, I added an order of small cheese curds. You can get all the lunch options as a salad or a sandwich.

Sweet Chili Lime salad with popcorn shrimp and Bacon Ranch salad with popcorn chicken

Sweet Chili Lime salad with popcorn shrimp and Bacon Ranch salad with popcorn chicken

The wait was short, about three minutes total for both of us as our items were prepared and freshly fried. Although, there seemed to be some kind of mix-up with my salad and the shredded cheese and bacon were added at the last second after the container was already closed up. But my meal ultimately was not lacking in cheese or bacon so no harm there.

The salads were $7.50 each and the small order of curds (plenty for two people) was $4.50. Not overly priced for a lunch. The salads were really really great. Both delicious. Both filling. Both covered in delightful sauces.The curds were a nice side and the perfect amount of cheesy.

Piping hot curds and a free chocolate chip cookie

Piping hot curds and a free chocolate chip cookie

Our only compliant with the whole meal: The lettuce was unruly. The chunks of romaine were big and sloppy and hard to eat and could have been given a chop or two before serving. That critique is perhaps the pickiest sentence I have ever written and clearly is the comment of two lunch-goers who order a lot of salads. Sorry. It was unruly lettuce! (EDITOR’S NOTE 4.23.14 Steve has assured me since they hand-cut the lettuce they’ll give it an extra chop or two to make the lettuce bite size. Cheers to the end of unruly lettuce!) The cart owner Steve even gave us tasty (FREE) chocolate chip cookies with our meals. A dessert perfect for fried food salads with a side of cheese curds.

A Good Fry-Day indeed.

Deliciousness: 4/5 plates
Price: 3/5 plates
Speed: 4/5 plates
Authenticity/Originality: 5/5 plates
OVERALL: 4/5 plates

Fried and Fabulous Twitter: https://twitter.com/friedandfab
Fried and Fabulous Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FriedandFabulous

Other Fried and Fabulous Reviews:
What Isthmus said
What Yelp says

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Blowin’ Smoke Barbeque

Perfect Pork
Location: Capitol Square at East Main Street and South Pinckney Street
By: Kailey

It is a travesty and a crime that Madison Street Eats has not reviewed the Blown’ Smoke BBQ cart. This Capitol Square staple has been around for a few years and they’re one of the hardcore ones that can be found serving fare from their Capitol Square cart all winter long. Every day you can smell their BBQ goodness wafting from the cart from blocks away. In fact, Blowin’ Smoke isn’t just a cart – they have a growing catering service and rumors of a storefront opening soon. (EDITOR’S NOTE APRIL 20, 2014: Rumors true, storefront is now open in Waunakee) They are a true sloppy and saucy legend in the Madison food cart community.

Blowin' Smoke...once you're this close to the cart it's too late. You've been sucked in my the sweet BBQ scent.

Blowin’ Smoke…once you’re this close to the cart it’s too late. You’ve been sucked in by the sweet BBQ scent.

Last Friday I decided to finally cross Blowin’ Smoke off the food cart list with the special: the Carolina consisting of pork, pepperjack cheese and slaw. I chose the spicy sauce to top my sandwich – the next step up in spice is “branding sauce” and that sounded like a step I wasn’t ready to take. The sandwich was $6.50 and sides are $1.50 extra. I know the size of the sandwiches first hand so I passed on the side option but I’ve heard they’re all very good (choices include baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, 6 bean salad and broccoli raisin salad). The wait for my food was short and I was even given a 10 stamp loyalty card. I’m now nine sandwiches away from a free meal with side.

The Caroline was love at first bite. I found the spice level perfect, the pork was tasty and not extra smokey like I thought it might be and the cheese was a nice melty touch. There was even a cute frilly toothpick topped with a pickle holding the monster creation together. (pickle not pictured, I ate it too fast)

The Carolina special

The Carolina special

The sweet drippy icing on this meal experience was the extra I found in my nicely packed paper bag: napkins. As a messy eater I enjoy my napkins and appreciate when food carts offer them – in fact I seem to always mention napkins in my reviews: King of Falafel, Mad City Fry Guy, Good Food, Banzo. The sandwich was great and very filling. I think the price is a bargain compared to all the behind-the-scenes work that takes place. I’ve never taken the time to rub, smoke and prepare a BBQ pork roast and serve it with homemade sauces and buns. So I’ll continue to pay Blowin’ Smoke for their tasty services.

Blowin’ Smoke has that perfect local diner vibe going on without actually being a diner. In fact, one time a coworker of mine had placed an order and then realized he forget his wallet. And Blowin’ Smoke gave him a sandwich and said “pay us back next time.” Spotting someone a sandwich! They may claim to be Kansas City style but this handcrafted BBQ cart fits in perfectly here in Wisconsin.

Deliciousness: 5/5 plates
Price: 5/5 plates
Speed: 4/5 plates
Authenticity/Originality: 4/5 plates
OVERALL: 5/5 plates

Blowin’ Smoke Website: http://www.blowinsmokebbq.org
Blowin’ Smoke Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blowin-Smoke-Barbeque-Madison

Other Blowin’ Smoke Reviews:
What Isthmus said
What A to Z said
What Wisconsin State Journal said

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