Last month I announced on Facebook that I was hoping to gather interested friends to have lunch with me at a newly located restaurant in Madison.  I made a reservation for five and in no time I had received confirmation from four individuals allowing me to easily fulfill the reservation. Ruth Reichl, the award-winning author, one-time New York Times restaurant critic and the last editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine, promised me in an interview I conducted with her a couple of years ago that foodies find foodies.  I feel it’s time I find mine.

What’s great about this group is that its purpose is to be fluid and ever-evolving, quite possibly never the same group twice. I announce the restaurant on my FB page and friends can decide if they’re interested in that particular menu of the month. There is so much diversity in Madison’s food scene that there is sure to be a restaurant offering for everyone interested in going out for lunch and meeting new friends.

That’s what happened last month at Madison RED, a favorite sushi restaurant. Although I knew all the women sitting around the table, few of them knew each other. Before we even ordered our rolls we had come to be fast friends and actually came up with a name for ourselves. We are Madison’s Lunch Squad.

Because I couldn’t help but take a few notes, I thought I’d share with you my impression of the new space.

Farewell to RED Sushi, the cozy raw joint of King Street and Hello to the lady in red–Madison RED Dine Lounge, now on West Washington Avenue. Dressed to the nines in red, black and gold; draped with sparkling stainless chandeliers, the new restaurant looks as if it has matured from what was once an intimate locale just off the capital square.

The bar now is an expression of sophistication and good taste, sweeping through the room like the train of an elegant evening gown, adorned with intimate booths cradling smartly-dressed guests. Chopsticks pirouette over creative rolls and sashimi, seared filet mignon and halibut. On a recent lunch date with friends, we each enjoyed the two-roll lunch special for $13. A toothsome favorite was the tropic bintoro roll (see above)—spicy, buttery albacore tuna, sweet tempura-battered mango, cuddled with smooth avocado.

Both raw and cooked as well as vegetarian rolls are offered. Whichever rolls you choose, consider getting the pork bun as an appetizer and the sweetly seasoned seaweed salad with crunchy cucumber slices involved in your dining daydream.

See you this month at a yet to be disclosed location!



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