Tuesday, August 23, 2011


First, go check out the pictures in the Gallery page of Fresco's website. I'm serious, go check it out. I'll wait.

If you've gone to their website, continue. If not, return to the previous paragraph.

Ok, that's the biggest reason to go to Fresco. Rooftop restaurants in Madison are not exactly common. It's a beautiful city, but it's not very tall, and most of the eateries are solidly ground level or below (RIP Underground Kitchen... at least temporarily). Fresco is located on the top floor of the Overture Center for the Arts, which also houses the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. It's a short walk from the Capitol, which can be seen from some spots in the restaurant. The inside section is separated from outside by all glass walls, maintaining the view even in the comfort of indoors.

But let's not get carried away. Despite being a "rooftop" restaurant, I think it's on the 3rd floor, so it doesn't exactly tower over the land below. And the view from Graze is probably a better one, despite solidly terrestrial footing. So let's stop gushing and get to the food, shall we?

Almost. Fresco is also unique in Madison for it's modern-artsy decor. Funny shaped plates, uneven bowls, bright solid colors. It feels right, existing one floor above a modern art museum.

Ok ok the food. Pretty good. Not amazing, but solid. The menu is relatively small, which conveys confidence that what's on there will be good. Most of the dishes are meat or seafood, which seemed a little unusually heavy but probably fit with the fancy-pants city restaurant theme. Their menu is largely seasonal in fruit and vegetable selection, though the abundance of seafood indicates less than strict localvore sensibility. The menu changes regularly (another indicator of excellence), so I won't talk details. General feeling was their dishes were good but under vegetabled. Some of the parts of the dish I was most excited about were little more than garnishes for the meat. The food was done well and presented nicely.

Let's be honest here. The menu is pricey ($20/entree), but the reason to go here is for the ambiance. I've actually never been when it's dark (the two times we've made it were at the height of summer), but I bet it's a romantic spot to have a dinner. Personally, if I had money to burn I'd go to some of Madison's other fine dining establishments. But it is worth a visit, if just to see what Madison looks like from the 3rd story.

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