Madison Bucket List- Picnic Point and Tornado Room Restaurant Review

Happy Weekend!  Just dropping in to talk about crossing a couple things off my Madison Bucket List in the past 48 hours!  Since this was technically my last weekend in Madison, we had a going away party/ birthday party for our group of friends!  We reserved a fire pit at picnic point on the UW-Madison campus and then headed to Tornado Room Steakhouse for their late  night menu.

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If you follow me on any type of social media, I’m sure you’re sick of me talking about how wonderful my friends are, but they are seriously that great!  I loved celebrating with them and I am going to be very sad to leave them.  Side note–this party on Friday also was Harry Potter themed…butterbeer was served and some people really went all out for their costumes!  I love being friends with other Harry Potter nerds!

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Picnic Point (in general)

Picnic Point is really easy to reserve and has beautiful Lake Mendota views.  You can find all of the information on their website, and the staff is very helpful.  One thing I didn’t realize is that it is quite a walk from the parking lot!  There are several fire pits of varying sizes and seating.  We had the farthest campfire out on the point, which was about a mile walk each way, but it had the best view!  It was worth the walk!

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Tornado Steakhouse (Restaurant Review)
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I have to be really honest here, but this was probably one of the most disappointing things I’ve experienced in Madison.  The Tornado Steakhouse is a restaurant downtown that is known for having amazing steak.  They are pricy, but our friends had heard raving reviews about their late night menu which had cheaper options after 10 pm.  We decided to try this out after picnic point.   I will summarize first:  the food was awesome, but service was awful.  So, so awful.

We arrived around 10:30 and sat in the Corral Room downstairs at a large table for our group (12 people).   About half the tables were full at this point.  We waited at least 10 minutes for menus.  Once we received our menus, our server told us they would be back to take our order soon– this ended up being 10 more minutes..  We ordered drinks and food, and also asked for water for the table.  After ordering, we waited 45 more minutes and still hadn’t received water or the drinks we ordered!  Our server ignored our table the entire time.  When we asked nicely about the wait for the drinks, she replied with “We only have one bartender…” and then went on and was very defensive.  After asking, our drinks and food came out together and two of our parties orders were missing…we couldn’t ask about them, because our server was nowhere to be seen again.  We still had not been given water and there were people at our table who didn’t order drinks either and had been there for an hour with nothing to drink.

Now, I can sympathize with our server slightly because I waitressed for four years in high school and  totally understand how busy it can get on weekends!!  There were times when I wanted to cry I had so much to tend to with my tables.  However, having experienced this, it would have been nice if our server just would have kept us informed (and brought us water, isn’t that a given?!).  A simple “I know it’s taking awhile for your drinks, but they are on their way soon” would have been nice!  Instead, the disappearing and defensiveness was a total turnoff.

Also, a friend in our party had food allergies, particularly green onion.  When she asked the server about her options, the server basically told her that “the kitchen is covered in green onion” and there was nothing she could do to help her because “the cooks don’t wash their hands between orders”……I wasn’t even sure what to make of that.

Common sense tells me that the server was trying to tell her that there was no way to keep her safe from the green onion in the kitchen, but I would hope the restaurant would have trained this server more thoroughly in customer service and situations with food allergies.   All in all, she was not very nice about the situation and to be honest, that was the first time I had ever overheard a restaurant not be compliant or sensitive to food allergies.  I completely understand that it is a hassle for restaurants to take the extra time to make substitutions, etc., but my friend was not trying to take advantage of the situation at all and I guarantee you the restaurant would not have lost any time or any money by at least checking to see if they could make a side dish or salad.

Instead, Tornado Room definitely lost business.  On our way out, we overheard people talking about how busy the place gets on Friday nights (when we were there).  I sympathize with this, but I believe that if a business that does as well as Tornado Room does on Friday nights, they should see that and hire more servers and bartenders to accommodate their customers.  I would also hope that the management does a better job in training their staff in customer service.  Again, their food was great and I have no complaints there!

Final thoughts- I still had the best time ever on Friday night!!!  A bonfire and delicious food and cocktails?  Perfection.  I can overlook the service at Tornado Steakhouse, however I don’t think I’ll be recommending it to anyone in the future  I hardly ever write negative restaurant reviews, but I was just so disappointed after all the hype!

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