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Dining with Nancy: Madison’s Cafe

It’s my favorite time of year. Grass is greening. Flowers are blooming. Animals scurry about. Friends gather on patios for happy hours (yes, I receive your taunting texts). Unfortunately, legislators, lobbyists and staff miss most of the welcomed weather by working late into the evening within the dark and humid halls we know as our second home, Missouri’s State Capitol. Don’t get me wrong, most of us are grateful to work in such a grand building and form friendships with many from around the state we might not otherwise know. Though, it does come at a cost – no spring and significantly diminished sleep.

Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Kansas City, breaks from their meal to pose for a photo. (Photo by Nancy Giddens)
Rep. Noel Torpey, R-Kansas City, breaks from their meal to pose for a photo. (Photo by Nancy Giddens)

Representative Noel Torpey and I decided to take back a spring day, albeit later into the evening and missing sun, and set out for some fresh air and al fresco dining after a long Wednesday. Our journey landed us two blocks east of the Capitol at Madison’s Café. Madison’s is a tradition and a well-known entity among all those legislatively related. Despite its proximity to the Capitol, I hadn’t dined at Madison’s in years. Perhaps it is because I overdosed on its fare when I moved to Jefferson City 11 years ago. I won’t let so much time pass between my visits again. Whether it was the perfectly cooked Burnt Sandwich, wine for me, Boulevard beer for my guest from the west, or the weather, Representative Torpey and I enjoyed a fantastic dinner in fresh springtime air.

The Place

Madison’s Café became a Jefferson City hotspot for locals, legislators, and visitors in April 1982. Located downtown at 216 Madison Street, the eatery features authentic northern Italian cuisine. With seating for approximately 200, lounge seating for 40, and two private dining rooms, Madison’s often is the site for wedding rehearsal dinners, fundraising events, and more. Representative Torpey and I particularly enjoyed the outside patio, which was finished ten years ago.

The People

Stewart, our server, was attentive, punctual, and appeared to really enjoy his job. Being a Madison’s employee for a year, he confidently presented us with bread and dipping oil, which boasts a 10:1 ratio of Parmesan to garlic. Thankfully, I was with my buddy Torpey. The concoction is delicious but I’d advise against it if on a date…unless it is the kind of date where you need your friends to call with an “emergency” to get you out of it (I won’t mention any names).

The Product 

Madison’s menu features steaks, seafood, pasta, chicken, veal and more. There is plenty from which to choose. During my food overdose period, I enjoyed my share of house salads that include artichoke hearts, fresh parmagiano, and red wine vinaigrette, along with my desired pasta. Though due to the lateness of the day, Representative Torpey and I decided against larger dinner entrees and settled on the same item – Burnt Sandwiches, two please! We both were incredibly pleased with our selections. The sandwich consists of a butterflied 8 oz. filet mignon, topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions and melted provel cheese. Try one for yourself!

The Price

Madison’s menu is moderately priced and ranges with selection. Whatever you choose, you will get a good value and likely have leftovers. A full menu and prices are available via the following link: May I suggest the Chocolate Madness Cake? Both Torpey and I agree it was well worth the $8.40.

The Pizzazz

Springtime…oh how I welcome you! My legislative friends and I may miss much of this spectacular season due to long working days, but the bits of time we get are greatly appreciated. Representative Torpey and I thoroughly enjoyed our Madison’s experience – the weather, food, and passers-by all made for a great end to a lengthy day. Thanks for joining me this week Torpey!