Jacs Dining & Tap House

Jacs Dining & Tap HouseJacs Dining & Tap House
Liked This Place
4.03 w/ 5 Ratings
Jacs Dining & Tap HouseJacs Dining & Tap House

Type: Bar, Eatery

2611 Monroe St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53711-1801
United States

(608) 441-5444 | map

Formerly the Monroe St. Bistro.

Added by HickorySwitch on 09-09-2008

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Ratings: 5 |  Reviews: 2
Photo of BarrelAgedG
4.18/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5

Photo of bpfrush
4.25/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of dmarley
3.75/5  rDev -6.9%

Photo of BarrytheBear
3.89/5  rDev -3.5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Jac's on Monroe is no longer Monroe St. Bistro for the record. I'm sure a collective sigh of relief and a nodding of heads greets this important announcement.

Where to begin? The Monroe St. area is a nice part of town. Just removed enough from campus that it keeps those meddling coeds away and just far enough from my humble abode that I fel removed from home.

Upon entering Jac's, you are immediately greeted by the half wall that serves as a barrier between the dining area( to the left and the bar area to the right). While this wall serves as a literal barrier between the two, it also seems to be a source of consternation for employees and patrons alike. When the bar area gets busy it becomes near impossible to move as people line the wall area. Since the bear seats maybe ten people and the additional small window tables another six or so, it doesn't take a big crowd to feel cramped. Likewise, the restaurant side can feel very tight when busy, as the overall size of the entire establishment is rather small. This serves as the paradox for me. When lightly populated, Jac's feel cozy. When busy, it feels obnoxious. Warm colors help the small space seem smaller if that's possible.

As far as quality is concerned, I've yet to have a bad meal at Jac's. While some have been solid, the worst meal has been simply mediocre. Servings are moderate but ample and the Frites, when at their best, are solid. Brunch offers a nice variety of standards with a twist.

The services varies depending on where you are. The waitstaff is typically friendly if a bit slow. Maybe this, in conjunction with the space and the time people have to wait when the place is busy, make for a relatively lethargic table turnover. On the bar side, there are two main bartenders. One of the guys is very friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to strike up a conversation..particularly on spots. The other guy comes off as arrogant. When asked a month or so ago if the still had a particular beer on tap, he scoffed and said "we only keep the fresh stuff on tap." What the hell does that mean? That you took the beer off tap because you deemed it no longer fresh? Or did the keg blow because it was so fresh that hordes of Madisonians swarmed your beer to devour its freshness. Ok, buddy. Last night he told a member of the waitstaff that he wasn't sure where she was going, but that she'd get plowed over. This guy is a big dude and the space is...have I mentioned small...but he seems to takes his duties a bit too smugly.

The beer selection is decent...typically about ten taps. My recent visit included HopSlam, Golden Nugget, Serendipity, Abbot 12 (much be the freshest in town though, since that shit is always on tap there), Dark Horse Oatmeal Stout, the Duchess, and others I'm forgetting. The food, as mentioned previously, is good and pricing for it is fair.

My biggest gripe with Jac's is the apparent disconnect between their food prices and their bar prices. Taps typically run six bucks or more, and that includes local stuff. That's absurd in this town. As a comparison, Jac's has HopSlam on tap for 7 bucks, while Dexter's across town has it for 4.75. Granted, Dexter's kicks ass and doesn't fleece you on drinks. Jac's doesn't seem to care about this. Their selection is good, and I made the recent trip specifically because I wanted to drink Golden Nugget, but I called four other bars who carry Toppling Goliath before calling Jac's. Their mostly out of touch beer prices certainly keep me from making Jac's a regular stop.

 3,530 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4.1/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

ah yes Monroe Street Bistro - a spinoff of Brasserie V, which serve as a comparison throughout this narrative

atmosphere: i dig it. The location is further down Monroe Street, just before you get to Bluephies and all that jazz. The building definitely has some years under its belt and it looks like there may be an expansion in the works. There is a nice wooden-floor interior with lots of tin. The room is very loud and not very large (maximum dining capacity around 50ish maybe). Brasserie V is just too new feeling on the inside - i like this place better, and theres quality artwork throughout

quality: Unfortunately, while the Bistro boasts a quality beer selection, it is not in the same league as Brasserie V. They used to have Miller Lite on tap but it appears that is gone, so thats a nice save. The tuesday night special is great on paper - 50% off 16/22/750ml bottles but there arent many to choose from (like maybe 5). Daily happy hours (4-6) feature half off drinks

service: no complaints on either visit

selection: lacking compared to Brasserie V. The tap selection is slightly smaller(15) and while it features some great calls (st bernardus 12, val dieu grand cru, duchesse, unibroue maudite, etc), it doesnt really boast any major rarities like brasserie sometimes does and the selection has been stagnant thus far. However, its hard to complain about 15/15 quality taps. The bottle list is smaller than Brasserie and really just doesnt boast anything worth writing about except maybe the Nogne Porter, but even thats pretty common.

food: i love the belgian/french bistro cuisine. I had muscles and frites and the lady had the steak frites. Both were solid, though not the best of that fare we have ever eaten.

It's a cool spot. I love belgian beer and belgian food so its officially in the rotation, though i would probably lean on Brasserie V for everything but atmosphere at this point

 1,913 characters

Jacs Dining & Tap House in Madison, WI
Place rating: - out of 100 with 5 ratings
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