WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
The Willy Street eatery was the year's best debut ...Sardine was strong enough to really help reinvent the dining landscape in Madison. It's one of the first large-scale dining rooms in town that knows how to mix savvy fun with serious dining, an informal sense of fiesta with good food, a true sense of style with a real sense of taste. The kitchen has already produced some classic dishes-the best skate wing I've ever tasted; an ethereal duck salad...
"...Midwestern French-inspired bistro with Mediterranean touches. But mostly like the best dining, it's just a study in sensuality, a portrait of two chefs at their peak, having fun with food and spoon-feeding you a buffet that's rich but clean, layered with flavor but never too complicated.
...the almost immediate, seismic success of Sardine which opened its French doors this summer seems in some ways ordained. Despite all the local restaurant premieres in recent years, there hasn't been a kitchen that popped up so fully formed and completely conceived. And no new restaurant has come as close, until now, to suggesting that Madison may finally realize it's potential as a dining destination."
"The real bones of a restaurant, though, is its menu, and this may be Sardine's biggest surprise and best lesson: The chefs are actually in the kitchen helping make your dinner, a freakish anomaly at a time when too many name chefs never light an oven. The result is a passionate kind of cooking that Hurley and Gadau are hard-pressed to define, though partly it's defined by a thankful indifference to trends. The kitchen mixes accents, but there is no self-conscious, confused tango of lemongrass crossed with wasabi."
- Raphael Kadushin, The Isthmus
Named by Madison Magazine as Best New Restaurant 2006