On Friday night, Karen and I went to dinner at the Mad City Crab House before the Feist concert at the nearby Orpheum Theater. Although we had heard mixed reviews on the restaurant, which recently opened off State Street, it does tout itself as “Madison’s Premier Choice for Fresh Seafood.” And I do love seafood. We ordered the Mad City Fondue ($7.95), which was described on the menu as “cheesey cheddar and crab in a freshly baked bread bowl.” For an entree, we chose the Pan Seared Crab Cake sandwich ($8.95), which was Dungeness crab cake, romaine, carrots, tomato, onions, and homemade sundried tomato sauce on a freshly baked roll with a side of sweet potato fries.
The food was just awful. I don’t think I’ve been to a worse restaurant since trying Za’s, a cafeteria-style Italian “bistro” on State Street. The fondue was essentially Velveeta cheese with bits of crab sprinkled on top. The cheese quickly hardened, making it quite challenging to dip bread. Disgusting. The crab cake sandwich was nothing special, and the sweet potato fries tasted as if they had been frozen and reheated in an oven. The service was also horrible. After ordering waters and a beer, it took our waitress quite a while to actually deliver this seemingly simple drink order and take our food order. The atmosphere was fun—cheap nautical-ish—but everything else was appalling. Perhaps in the future I should listen to the restaurant reviewers instead of feeling like I have to try a place myself. The Mad City Crab House will not garner a single repeat customer, thus its days are obviously numbered.