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“Eh, had better....”
Review of Vault Steak House - CLOSED

Vault Steak House
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Description: Has not been open long but has excellent food, wonderful steaks and seafood, especially good lobster and crab claw chowder. Elegant presentation, nice dining room, outside dining available. Not inexpensive, good service, good wines. Delicious desserts!
Reviewed January 19, 2013

Very limited "winter menu" What kind of a steakhouse does not have a baked potato on its menu? They ran out of the Delmonico steak on a Friday night. Porterhouse was good, but I went there FOR the Delmonico. Green beans were too crispy, and not much flavor. Lobster Bisque was the high point of the meal. It was out of this world. For the cost of this meal, we were disappointed.

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Thank Ginny T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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33 - 34 of 34 reviews

Reviewed August 2, 2012

The Vault is located in the old bank building where as a toddler and pre-teen I'd accompany my mom or dad as they conducted their business. As a tyke, the main purpose of the trip for me was to get a lollipop from the teller! And I remember the day my mom paid off the mortgage on our home or the times she'd let me make night deposits in the outdoor drop-box. So it was of special interest for me to join a life-long hometown friend for dinner here while on a recent trip to visit my family.

The Vault has had several reincarnations as a restaurant or tea room in its post-banking life. The interior still has the fanciful sun-tinted clouds and blue sky on its walls and ceiling from a previous owner who was also an art teacher. This decor has now been impishly augmented with several photographs of people associated with banking or bank robbing such as John D. Rockefeller, IV, J. P. Morgan, John Dillinger, and Elliot Ness. My dining partner was a life-long friend whose childhood home overlooked the opposite corner of the handsome village park on which this edifice sits.

We were the first diners to arrive on a Monday night at 5:30 (this is the mid-west after all!) and were seated next to, well, the vault itself! By the time we left, there were at least seven other covers plus parties coming in as well. This on a hot, humid Monday night, mind you! The Vault is obviously a "destination" restaurant. It could never be supported by the economic demographic of Madison itself. As Michelin stars might attest, it's "worth a detour" and then some.

There's a "steak menu" and a separate "bistro menu." Beer and wine are served, but no hard liquor. Both menus were appealing and offered many hard-to-resist items. We focused on the steak menu. My buddy ordered what I'd call a "designer pork chop" and I opted for the New York strip steak. Our host came to our table with a small butcher block to show us the various cuts of meat. Both our meats came with a choice of potato, a veggie of the day, and a house salad. The house salad was artfully presented but used iceberg lettuce. This made it easier to mount and assemble the other veggies atop it, but it's still iceberg lettuce albeit with a decent balsamic-based house dressing.

Our main courses arrived and both of us happily dug in. My strip steak was beautifully charred and cooked to order (medium rare). It was presented atop delicious garlic mashed potatoes and razor-thin slices of zucchini were amazingly not cooked into oblivion and actually hot. My plate was adorned with a large spring of rosemary. My friend's pork chop was similarly cooked to perfection. Thank God we don't tend to overcook pork anymore! The reductions on our plates practically begged to be licked off.

Aside from the iceberg lettuce, the only other oddity was the paucity of bread served with the meal (one small slice of something vaguely baguette-like with the salad). Our attentive waiter told us there was only one dessert, creme brule. While this struck me as odd, we eagerly ordered and, augmented by several fresh raspberries, it was first-rate.

Checking my bill later, I noticed we were not charged for our desserts. Maybe I didn't read the small print on the menu and dessert might have been part of the table d'hote menu (hence the limited dessert offering) or perhaps it had been comped or was just an error. When I return here again (and, yes, I'll definitely return!), I'll pay closer attention.

In a final "walk down Memory Lane" moment, I learned from the host upon leaving that the owners of The Vault had also purchased the home of one of my late uncles in a village in the next county in which they'd opened another outpost with private rooms, a real wine cellar, etc.
This, too, would be another culinary destination I look forward to visiting on a return trip home.

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1  Thank Jim H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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