What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?
Owner Tom Baertschy (right) added the endive salad to the late spring menu to reflect seasonal ingredients.

In a locavore-loving town like Madison, seasonal ingredients pepper the menus of many restaurants. But this cooking approach inspires more than just the food at one downtown bistro; it guides the very name.

Tucked on the corner of Bassett and Main streets, 8 Seasons Grille varies its New American cuisine—yep—eight times per year. Owner Tom Baertschy recalls that using local, in-season ingredients was an important concept to him before opening the restaurant in 2010. “That was something we worked hard to do,” he says.

Baertschy’s customer base runs the gamut: students and professors, young professionals and retirees who live, work and seek out entertainment in the immediate area.

The menu offerings reflect this diverse clientele. Dishes range from simple entrees like rosemary chicken and oven-roasted fish to funky appetizers like pork dumplings and bacon-wrapped dates. A few favorites, like the fish tacos, pork schnitzel and slam-dunk roasted red pepper tomato bisque soup, survive the seasonal menu updates, and a particularly awesome tea list, plus bottomless mimosas and a DIY Bloody Mary bar on the weekends, makes the beverage options alone worth a visit. 

8 Seasons has carved out a niche hosting special dinners like beer pairings, patio parties and the increasingly popular Iron Chef dinners. The idea to host regular Iron Chef competitions was born, as many good ideas are, in a bar over a game of pool.

At first Baertschy and the 8 Seasons gang had to scout willing chefs for the monthly competition, but now that the word has spread, they have no trouble finding participants. In fact, now chefs often approach Baertschy. And with alumni from places like Steenbock’s on Orchard, Umami and Wonder Bar Steakhouse, they’re in good company.

8 Seasons Grille
5 S. Bassett St.
819-1082, 8seasonsgrille.com

Grace Edquist is associate/web editor of Madison Magazine. She blogs about food and drink trends and restaurant news in .