Usually the failure of a restaurant to deliver on something that's in their name would spell doom. However despite a disappointing brew, the Vintage Brewing Company has enough other things going for it that I'm willing to cut the brewmaster some slack.
Located in the former JT Whitney's on Whitney Way, the Vintage is a welcome addition to the westside. Another patron dubbed it The Old Fashioned West and I'd say that could be an accurate comparison if our first visit is the standard. The space is still huge and JT fans will still find recognizable touches such as the the booths and the fish tank in the bar. However, the Vintage has done more than just slap on a fresh coat of paint. The walls are now ordained with classic beer paraphernalia including the 3D Blatz dioramas I dream about for my man cave. They've also added, dare I say, "vintage" vinyl chairs around the place that give it more of a supper club feel than a brew pub. Another nice touch is the hostess area up front that my partner said makes it a place you wouldn't mind waiting for a table. The familiar fire place is still in back surrounded by comfy couches. Even the bathrooms were not overlooked as they've gotten a nice update. As parents of an infant we really appreciated the brand new changing table.
Speaking of kids, the Vintage really shined on service in that regard and overall. The hostess was great in helping us with our car seat/high chair set up and our waiter even offered to bring us warm water for making up a bottle. These nice touches were further complimented when our waiter brought out our meals and had the kitchen refire my partner's as she was in the restroom changing our son.
Our waiter was also good in steering us to some successful menu choices. We started off with the wings which featured two sauce choices. We settled on the chipotle BBQ which the waiter heartily endorsed. The wings were more meaty than anything I've had in ages and the sauce was not overpowering. We also tried a shot of hot sauce for $1. The Vintage features 4 homemade hot sauces and we opted for the XXX. The sauce was not as hot as I'd have hoped although it had a nice slow burn. However, the flavors were outstanding as it mixed cumin and jalapenos with lime for a sweet, savory combination. For entrees I went with the half rack of baby back ribs. The dry rub on the ribs was excellent and the BBQ sauce was good. The ribs themselves were very meaty and had the perfect amount of fat. Between the wings and the ribs I'd say they've got a winner when it comes to their meat supplier. I'd say the biggest disappointment was that the ribs could have been cooked better as they weren't as tender as I'd have liked. The sides on the dish though were outstanding. The mashed potatoes were standard but perfectly done. The red vinegar based coleslaw was one of the better ones I've had and the corn bread gives Hubbard Ave Diner's a run for their money. It was so moist and sweet you didn't need any butter. My partner tried the baked mac and cheese and we both agreed it surpasses the same dish at The Old Fashioned. The sauce had the perfect thickness and the garlic breadcrumb topping added nice flavor to cut through the cheese. Using fresh RP's rigatoni was also a good call as those noodles certainly held their own. Other dishes that made their way past our table also looked good including a crab cake salad and a massive steak knife burger that a nearby patron declared one of the best in town.
Now about that beer. The Vintage currently has two taps going with a weiss beer and a double oatmeal stout. We tried the stout and found it lacked the texture and creaminess one usually associates with stout. They'll soon have a Belgian ale with 9% alcohol that I'd certainly come back to try. After all with the food standing out so well, I can't imagine that the kinks won't get worked out of the brewery in no time.
Vintage Brewing Company, 674 S Whitney Way, Madison, WI 608-204-BREW