A Review of OSS Madison

DSC02060I first learned about OSS Madison, the new sausage restaurant on Regent Street, through Lindsay Christian’s review in The Cap Times. An offshoot of Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern in Monroe, OSS Madison is a casual, order-at-the corner restaurant located next to the Italian Workmen’s Club in the space formerly occupied by the Careersmith office (near the corner of Regent and Park).

The entrance is on the side of the building, and the decor is dark, sleek, and industrial with copper tubes, valves, and tall glass pillars filled with glowing bubbling water framing the large front window. Seating is communal at large wooden tables. Water is served in mason jars.

The staff is welcoming and friendly. The bubbly woman at the counter not only took our order, she took us under her wings—prancing around the restaurant excitedly showing us the many unique features of the space. Check out the men’s bathroom—go in, no one’s in there, she prodded me. She was right, it was nice. The wooden walls give the small space a sauna-like feel, and there is a metal barrel interestingly anchoring one of the two sinks. She also pointed out pillars of stacked books supporting one of the tables in the dining room.DSC02061

Sausages are the focus of the menu at OSS, with standby “old school” sausages like hot dogs, bratwurst, and polish sausage. There are also “signature sausages” that rotate on and off the menu, and “open source sausages” based on recipes submitted by customers as well as local chefs. There’s plenty of beer on tap—I spotted Ale Asylum, Schlitz, Lake Louie, Spotted Cow, Karben4, Cider Boys, and Hacker-Pschorr.

We ordered the Chicago Style Dog and the Banh Mi (both $5.50) and a side of fresh-battered cheese curds ($4) with siricha mayo. I was also tempted by the Fundido (A Chorizo sausage topped with assorted Mexican cheeses, sautéed peppers, and tortilla strips) as well as the Dining Room, the current “open source sausage,” a pepper spiced pork sausage, topped with a roasted poblano sour cream, crispy tortilla strips, and fresh cilantro from guest chef Wave Kasparzak of The Dining Room in Monticello.

The food was quickly and cheerfully delivered by the woman at the counter. We split the dogs in half so we could try each. The Chicago Style Dog was piled high with tomato, relish, onions, pickle, celery salt, sport peppers, and yellow mustard. The Banh Mi mi featured a Vietnamese pork sausage topped with pickled veggies, cilantro, fresh jalapeños, and chili-mayo. Both of the sausages were well seasoned and juicy, though the Chicago Style dog was disappointingly cold. I most enjoyed the flavor and toppings of the Banh Mi—especially the cilantro and chili mayo. The volume of the toppings is a little overwhelming for the buns—it’s a difficult to keep it all in tact as you eat—but it all makes for a delicious and filling meal. The cheese curds were the most disappointing—especially the serving size (very small) relative to the price point ($4). They were a little greasy, and no match to others like my favorite at The Old Fashioned, but I’d like them more if they were priced more reasonably, say, $2 or $3. I loved the siricha mayo dipping sauce. But we both wished we had ordered another sausage instead of the side.DSC02056

After we finished our sausages, the woman from the counter was back again to check in and clear away our dishes. Then Co-manager Dustin stopped by to see how everything tasted and to ask about how we had heard about the restaurant.

I’m excited for the arrival of OSS Madison. The space is fun and creative, the food is solid and affordable, and the customer service is friendly and welcoming. It’s very apparent the restaurant is a labor of love for the managers, both in their mid-20’s. They clearly have a pulse on the college crowd, and are eager to market their restaurant to the throngs of people regularly attending basketball and hockey games at the nearby Kohl Center. I do think OSS needs a better, more descriptive, name for marketing purposes. Some may find it cute that they couldn’t settle on a name from the many options—Our Sausage Shoppe, Old School Sausage, Open Source Sausages—which all feed into the current acronym, but it seems like any of these would be more effective than OSS.

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