A meal at Tempest begins with a most excellent plate of small bites: pickled green beans, vinegar eggs stained a lovely shade of pink, sharp radishes stuffed with creamy herb chevre, a wand of scallion, and briny olives. This is also accompanied by a thick triangle of butter and a soft loaf of bread.
Then, get some oysters. The beautifully shucked days offerings from the East Coast included Raspberry Points ($3) from PEI, East Beach Blondes ($3), Rhode Island, and French Kiss ($2.75) from New Brunswick. Also on my plate is a West Coast for good measure, a Penn Cove ($2.75) from Hood Canal, Washington.
The beer list is extensive, try the O'so "Nighttrain" Porter ($4.50) on draught if you are having trouble making up your mind. This oatmeal porter with chocolate malts is rich, smooth and creamy with a not too heavy finish that lends itself well to pairing with food. The cocktails are shaken to impress and reasonably priced. A Wheelhouse ($8.50) with cilantro vodka, aperol, lemon and lime achieves a crisp, balanced sweetness.
A firecracker of crispy fried leeks adorned my broiled Blue Marlin ($24) which nicely combined the flavors of a zesty lime aioli with a rich and nutty hazelnut pesto.
Dessert was a luxe silky Custard ($7) balancing a shortbread cookie with raspberries and blackberries.
The warmly lit dining room is accented in subtle instances by nautical themed decor. Meanwhile, its presence in the lounge is anything but, yet it still remains tasteful. Talking pieces include a weathered wooden speedboat on display and a massive wall mounted swordfish.If you ever find yourself in Madison, craving seafood, Tempest is a must visit.