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“Best Happy Hour and Oyster Bar” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Sardine

Sardine
617 Williamson, Madison, WI 53703
608-441-1600
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Ranked #21 of 838 Restaurants in Madison
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Large groups, Doing business, Special occasions, Entertaining clients
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night, Dessert
Saint Louis, Missouri
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Best Happy Hour and Oyster Bar”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

The scenery from the patio looking onto the lake is nice. Would like to be closer to the water and avoid the parking lot but seems like there are challenges with having water front restaurants as they were difficult to come by in Madison. We arrived just as happy hour was starting and requested the patio as it was a gorgeous September day. We were told the patio is reserved for priority guests who will be dining so if we were just going to have a drink we may be asked to move. This initially put me off,. However, we did end up ordering some oysters and they were the most delicious oysters I have ever had. I will not forget the "watermelon" tast that we were promised as the waiter was describing what was available to order.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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277 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    141
    95
    24
    8
    9
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Madison, Wisconsin
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
77 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 41 cities Reviews in 41 cities
47 helpful votes 47 helpful votes
“Fine dining on Machinery Row”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 4, 2012

We had been to this restaurant when it first opened and found the snooty service spoiled the experience. Now, years later, we thought we would try again. I called the evening before for a reservation for six. For some reason it took two people and a long hold to sort it out. On arrival we were escorted to our table in a mostly empty dining room. The place gradually filled so that it was bustling by the time we left. We shared oysters as one of our hors d'oeuvres and they confirmed the reputation of the place. The other hors d'oeuvre was battered and fried vegetables that was less inspired. Our party had entrees ranging from pasta to fish (salmon and red lake trout) to lamb chops. All seemed to enjoy their choice. The server was pleasant, hitting just the right level of information and warmth. On our prior trip we had also noticed that the hard surfaces made for a noisy environment, but I didn't notice that this time.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Madison, Wisconsin
Top Contributor
50 reviews 50 reviews
38 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Very nice restaurant, good food, slow service”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2012

The food is excellent: French-styled cuisine, lovely raw oysters. The restaurant is set in an old industrial building (which seems par for the course with fine dining for some reason), but the service, while attentive, was slow for some reason.

Overall this is a restaurant with very good food in an interesting location with competent staff which has a problem with promptness of delivery. If it figures that out then it will be a solid 5 rating.

  • Visited September 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Fitchburg
Top Contributor
54 reviews 54 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Energetic Vibe Without Frenzy”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 30, 2012

The renovated factory space features tile/wood floors, exposed brick walls supporting massive wooden beams, and wide open spaces that somehow absorb the noise. The casual bar and restaurant space are often full to capacity, but the wait staff keeps everything controlled. This is not a hush hush type of restaurant, but you won't be annoyed by noise and won't feel rushed through your meal. Mussell lovers I have dined with are always satisfied with this dish; they claim it is better than at ofther establishments. Daily specials round out the basic menu. The entire package makes this restaurant worth a try.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Madison, Wisconsin
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Over-Priced Snootiness”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2012

Over-priced snootiness is the main course of this restaurant. While in the heart of liberal Madison, it appears to be a place where the phony rich of Madison like to congregate and be seen. Our meal was just okay, but seriously, $19 for a small piece of chicken with no salad or soup?? Enough with the a la carte dining, which I believe is French for, "pay up, you ignorant saps!"

The dessert menu was equally disappointing and pricey. The portions are nothing more than tiny little bites of flavorless emptiness. I suppose they do that so the phony rich can go back to their wine and room temperature cheese eating friends and brag about all they indulged with the fabulous desserts at Sardine. La dee dah.

So, needless to say (even though I’m about to say it) we’re one and done with this snooty little addition to the Madison restaurant scene. You want a good meal, with good drinks, at a good price? Head to the Wonder Bar just down the road. The parking is much better too.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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