The Harvey House, Madison, 5/9/23

exterior (daytime) – 644 W Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703 

The Harvey House is a modern take on a supper club and train travel,  located in an historic train depot.  The old Baggage Claim House and a train car next door make up the interior spaces.  Opened by Shaina and Joe Papach, he runs the kitchen and she provides the design and business development portion.  Lots of Wisconsin classic cocktails are served as well as newer craft cocktails, but the wine list is limited.  The private car, which we could see out the window in our dining room, is used mostly for private parties according to our server.  Even so, it is a large place winding around different floors and rooms with music in the background.  A parking lot outside can handle some of the cars but parking can become an issue.  There were some area rugs on the hard floor but with all the brick walls and marble-top tables, noise quickly became an issue.  The lighting is very lowered which also became difficult as the sun went down.  The food was mixed but service was fine.  I do love supper clubs, but as much as I admire what the owners bring to the dining scene I probably wouldn’t go back.


exterior at night
train car outside



We started with an Ice-Cold Martini which was nicely made.  It comes to the table with a short pour but the rest is in a beaker housed in a glass of ice water.  A clever way to make it easier for a server to carry to the table.   The bread service was a warm roll with salt crystals on top and softened butter.  The roll was tender and tasty and had a fairly light dough,

Frankie and a martini
roll and butter


Sizzling Shrimp de Jonghe contained 5 large shrimp in garlic butter topped with crispy shallots and parsley alongside some toasted brioche.  The shrimp were perfectly cooked and delicious with the garlic butter.  The brioche was totally crisped and so didn’t absorb the butter well but did provide a vehicle to get the crispy parsley into your mouth with the shrimp.  It was good.

Sizzling shrimp de Jonghe


French Onion Bouillon was made with Roth Alpine Grand Cru, brioche and thyme.  They were nice enough to divide the soup into 2 portions for us in the kitchen.    The cheese was a creamy layer on top with the smallest croutons ever inside the broth.  There were no onions intact in the broth but their flavor was there more so than the thyme.  You could actually drink the soup, which was a change for onion soup but I’d rate this one as only okay.

French Onion Bouillon


Superior Walleye was topped with toasted rye alongside Savoy cabbage on Spaetzle and horseradish sabayon.  This plate is a house specialty, according to our server and that’s why we both got it.  It was a long fish fillet topped with a very crisp rye coating.  The fish had no flavor and needed salt, so the horseradish sabayon helped it but also totally dominated the flavor profile.  The cabbage mixed with the spaetzle was one of the worst things I’ve ever put in my mouth.  I tried a couple of bites but the flavor was horrible.   This plate was way off the mark and between it and the noise we decided to skip dessert.

Superior Walleye
Frankie liked the postcard with the bill

4 thoughts on “The Harvey House, Madison, 5/9/23

  1. Wow! you are really in my town! I got excited when I saw the oakcrest post. Where else are you eating?

    1. Write ups coming out on Paul’s Pel’meni, Plaza Tavern and Grill, L’Etoile, Alimentari Deli, and my favorite Nook. Have you tried any? Wouldn’t be surprised if we came again. Lots of good restaurants! We really enjoyed Milwaukee too.

  2. Shrimp de Jonghe is a Chicago-area dish I’ve been curious about for years, but still haven’t tried. I may have to just make it at home at some point.

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