Plain sausages get all dressed up at O.S.S. Madison

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By Bill Livick, Special to The Gazette
December 4, 2014

MADISON—Depending on how you feel about crowds, you might or might not want to visit Madison's newest sausage restaurant on the day of a Badger game.

That's what we did Saturday, Nov. 29, unaware there was a game until we got about a mile from O.S.S. Madison, which opened in February on Regent Street.

By the time we reached the restaurant, it was clear that parking would be a challenge unless we were willing to pay $20 to park in a game-day lot. However, a friend and I were pleasantly surprised when, after searching for a few minutes, a spot opened up on a side street nearby.

Both UW-Madison alums, we decided to make the most of the situation. We pretended we were among the throngs gathered for tailgate parties before the Badgers' football game against the Minnesota Gophers.

At 910 Regent St., O.S.S. Madison is close to the heart of the action. It's a casual place where diners place orders at a front counter, find seats at a communal glossy wood table or at the bar along the front window, and then wait for their numbers to be called.

O.S.S. is an offshoot of Baumgartner's Cheese Store and Tavern in Monroe. Baumgartner's owners Chris and Tyler Soukup own the restaurant and hired two former employees to manage it. Zuber's Sausage Kitchen—another Monroe business—turns the restaurant's recipes into sausages.

 The beers and ciders are not as reasonably priced, most going for $5 per pint, but you can get a generous serving of fries for just $2 or cheese curds for $4.

O.S.S. has a comfortable, zany vibe, with numerous plays on the acronym displayed throughout the restaurant, from Old School Sausages to Our Signature Sausages.

As you might imagine, O.S.S. was a bustling place Saturday. Beer was served in plastic cups, but our waitress assured us that it normally comes in pint glasses. She also mentioned that the kitchen's menu changes frequently and the managers are always looking for suggestions on new ways to dress up a sausage.

The ones we tasted were excellent.

The bahn mi ($6) is a Vietnamese pork sausage topped with pickled veggies, cilantro, fresh jalapeños and chili-mayo. It came in a light bun that did its part by not interfering with the lively, balanced flavors.

The cheddar jalapeño sandwich ($6.50) features a jalapeño-stuffed pork sausage topped with fire-roasted jalapeños, shredded cheddar cheese and a sweet corn-infused sour cream. Heat from the peppers was slow in arriving but long lasting—though not so extreme that it detracted from the rich flavors of pork, cheddar and sour cream.

An order of chili cheese fries stars the kitchen's homemade chili blended with cheddar cheese and onions ($3 per cup, $5 per bowl) and french fries.

The cheese curds, from Monroe's Maple Leaf Cheese, are fried fresh and served in large portions.

O.S.S. also has a beer garden in back with dining tables. It probably won't be used again this year, but it would be a nice place to enjoy a cold drink and sausage sandwich in summer.

Right now, the restaurant is still a great place for a quick meal. The food is tasty, priced less than $10 for a full meal and much better than a national fast-food chain. Its Regent Street location, one block off Park Street, makes it easy to find and access—unless there's a Badger game the day of your visit.

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