Madison has several shops known for their decent donuts. The Bassett Street Brunch Club, however, has not only created a famous donut recipe, but also a full menu of brunch food served all day long.
I stopped in on their one-year anniversary on Halloween. Upon entering, guests find themselves in a modern-style diner with striped booths, white swivel chairs, and large pictures featuring donuts and robots. That may sound odd, but it works for them, and has a fun, yet classy look. While managing partner Caitlin Suemnicht was looking for donut-themed decorations, she found a San Francisco artist who creates these masterpieces with donuts and old-fashioned toy robots in surreal, fantastical scenarios.
The donuts are definitely the star of the diner. These yeast-raised donuts are more substantial than some pillowy donuts I’ve indulged in before, but still light and delectable. Receiving wild reviews, the donuts come in classic flavors like chocolate or glazed, and also surprising flavors like the peanut butter and jelly, crème brulee, and maple bacon (which seems to have established a fan base in Madison). Donuts are even available to go with the Donut Drive-Up, and all donuts are half off after 8:30 p.m.
For those who aren’t in a rush or on their way back to work, the Brunch Club has two Happy Hours. First is the daily 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Happy Hour with $3 mimosas. The Happy Hour that I caught, however, takes place Monday through Friday during the more traditional hours of 3 p.m.-6 p.m.. This event offers $3 tap beer and rail mixers, $4 Wake Up Call Cocktails, and $5 Classic Cocktails, glasses of wine and all appetizers.
One appetizer actually features the Brunch Club’s famous pastry: the Chicken & A Donut. The donut is topped with a buttermilk-fried chicken breast, drizzled with honey, with Sriracha sour cream swirled decoratively on the plate for dipping. Another best-selling appetizer is the Brunch Club Poutine. This French-Canadian dish is growing in popularity around Madison, and the Brunch Club’s edition of it is a real winner with hot fries smothered in a thick, house-made gravy, queso fresco, bacon, chives, and a poached egg balanced delicately on top of it all. Each originally $7.95, these dishes are down to $5 during Happy Hour, like all of the appetizers.
Whether ordered early in the day or during the evening Happy Hour, the Brunch Club’s “Wake-up Call Cocktails” are sure to perk you up. During Happy Hour, however, each cocktail on this menu is only $4. The effervescent Mimosa is a classic (normally $5). The Brunch Club Bloody is a unique Bloody Mary made with Tito’s vodka and housemade Mary mix, garnished with celery and spicy pickles (normally $6).
A sweeter drink with a kick is the Spiked Horchata based on the Mexican rice drink, and made with cinnamon, rice, milk and vanilla, served with dark rum over ice (originally $5). The Brunch Club very much enjoys adding twists to classics, adding a shot of espresso to a coffee porter to create a Wake Up Beer, or like serving a vodka and orange screwdriver in slushy form, delighting the child within all of us. They even invented “Booze in a Bag,” $4 pouches of alcohol in various unnatural colors reminiscent of Capri Suns.
Located on the corner of Bassett Street and Johnson Street, the Brunch Club is connected to the lobby of the Hampton Inn (to the delight of the hotel guests), with parking available in the hotel’s parking lot Monday through Thursday, during days the hotel is not at peak occupancy. Hotel guests make up a large portion of the restaurant’s patrons, as do students from the nearby campus.
The Brunch Club proudly serves Colectivo Coffee, and the booths with outlets and wifi cater to students and even to businessmen and businesswomen stopping in for lunch or taking their meetings somewhere nice. In other words, get there early and be patient -- Assistant Manager Trevor Mellenberger informed me that The Brunch Club has become so popular, all 90+ seats are sometimes taken within 15 minutes of opening.
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