"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" - Virginia Woolf

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fedora - Back in Style

Back in Style

Everything that was old is new again.

   Getting together with old friends last month, we were looking for somewhere hip and down home, at the same time. Steve and Sue are serious foodies and seasoned Bar Eaters, themselves, so we asked them to make the call. Their pick, Fedora; they were already regulars and we'd been talking about going since Patti popped into Jeffery's Grocery for lunch in March.

Cocktail Hour

Partner/manager Brian, the man behind the cocktails at Fedora.

   When we arrived Steve was already well into a Black Squirrel Old Fashion. Patti joined Sue in Songbirds and I went for a 445 North Locust, all very tasty. (Ya, I sampled everybody's.) Settling in, we tortured good natured Brian with a round of guess that Madison restaurant. A Wisconsinite, like many working in what if Gabe Stulman has his way may come to be called "Little Wisco." Reminds me of the Irish Bars I've frequented over the years. When you get to talking to the staff you discover they're all from a particular county in Ireland. Up the street, another bar, a different county.

Architect & Bartender Robert

   By now you have probably heard a bit about this place and the interesting story behind it. So I won't burden you with all the details, just bang the links if you want to know more. Fedora is not a reference to the hat but the owner, Fedora Dorato. The story of her passing the baton is a classic, with a happy ending. It wasn't easy for those who remember the way it was, but it seems Fedora made a wise choice. The Feast shot a series of videos during renovations, that are a nice introduction to Gabe and his crew if you haven't met them.

I'm guessing these are Little Wisco Specials.
Now, don't they look refreshing!

We were curious, but this evening it was wine.

With food like this, you can't go wrong with a good gigondas.

Energy and Informality

   It was a very busy Saturday night, everything was a blur including Gabe, when he swung by to say hello. Relaxed and sincere, he seems a genuinely nice guy, as does everyone who works there. Personal attention, hard work and smarts appear to be the Wisco formula for success. 

Then Came Dinner

Sharing the Carnage

   It was one big order for all of us. Things we had to try, specialties of the house, specials of the evening a truly communal meal. Starting with, chioggia beet salad with ricotta and candied pecans, a favorite of Steve's, (a man who didn't really like beets until he tasted this dish) and scapes in early spring season, very tasty, and crispy pigs head, a favorite of Sue's, also good if a bit on the rich side. (Patti didn't go for the concept). For the main course, (and I do mean main), roasted pork ribs, not the ones usually on the menu, which Steve says are phenomenal, (these were hardy if undistinguished), rock shrimp salad, and brussel sprouts with black bean sauce and bacon, house standards. Actually, hardy and inventive describes all of the fair. It will be interesting to see what Chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly, (formerly Chef de Cuisine at Martin Picard's - Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal), does for a summer menu. Mehdi and Gabe gave Zagat's an interview that sets out Fedora's basic approach to cuisine.


Chocolate cake like mom used to make. With a milk chaser.

Ok we're full.

Parting Shot

Photo by Frank

    Where does the time go? Seems as though we just sat down. There is nothing better than sharing a good meal with good friends, at the corner of the bar. We look forward to more Bar Eater adventures with Steve and Sue.

Looking Back

   For many Fedora (the bar) was an old friend and it is hard when old friends move on. Those afflicted with nostalgia might do better to think of this smart, new incarnation as, "daughter of Fedora" and look upon her with the delight held for the progeny of a legend.


Everything that was old is new again.

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