OSS in Madison and More

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The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a copy of The Secret Atlas of North Coast Food to the best tipster of January and February. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

Courtesy OSS
Courtesy OSS

OSS (just opened in Madison, WI)

The Tap generally keeps its eyes trained on Minnesota in general and the greater Twin Cities metro area more specifically — there’s enough going on to keep a full-time reporter happily occupied. But we do like to roam every now and again, and a keen sense for Upper Midwestern soul food brought our attention to the newly opened OSS (“Old School Sausages”) in Madison, WI.

The shop represents an expansion for Baumgartner’s, a landmark cheese-and-beer tavern in Monroe, WI, that serves what is almost certainly the country’s best and most completely earnest Limburger-and-onions sandwich (below). But OSS is no clone — it’s a new animal.

Becca Dilley / Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin
Becca Dilley / Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin

“We knew we couldn’t take Baumgartner’s anywhere else; it’s cemented in Monroe’s downtown,” says OSS co-manager Josh Boll. “But we could try another concept similar to Baumgartner’s — Wisconsin comfort food — with a new name and in a new location.”

OSS defines its core identity with Maple Leaf Cheese Factory beer-battered cheese curds and classic sausages. For Boll, the menu’s cornerstone is the restaurant’s smoked bratwurst. “When anybody thinks “Wisconsin comfort food,” cheese or bratwurst come to mind,” he says. “The bratwurst that we have is made by Zuber’s Sausage Kitchen in Monroe. It’s very similar to traditional red bratwurst you’d find in Germany or in Milwaukee beer halls, or on the grill at Packers or Badgers tailgating. We top it with really good sauerkraut and some raw or caramelized onions and a little bit of our Baumgartner’s mustard we have here. They’re Monroe-made, they’re homemade, and they’re incredible.”

Becca Dilley / Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin
Becca Dilley / Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin

Boll argues that there’s a thick vein of comfort food nostalgia that shops like OSS are perfectly positioned to mine. “People remember their grandparents eating Limburger cheese, or their great aunts and uncles eating braunschweiger together, or enjoying a game of Jass (the Swiss card game),” he says. “A lot of it’s nostalgia. People are living off the land again; they want it to be like the good old days. Wisconsin is known for certain things, and we do those things very well and take pride in that: cheese, beer, meat. That’s what we do.”

But the restaurant is also playing with some edgier bites, including banh mi, Swedish meatball, and egg roll sausages.

“We’re soon to unveil the Baumgartner, which is kind of the best of both worlds,” says co-manager Dustin Borneman. “It’s old world with a new twist on it. It’s a braunschweiger sausage, Limburger cheese, grape jelly, and red onions. We’re excited to let that one loose.”

“There’s so many directions we can go with the menu, too,” adds Borneman. “Pretty much anything is a possibility,” including vindaloo and Peruvian-inspired brats.

Birchwood (now closed for construction and doing a breakfast pop-up at Verdant Tea)
3311 E 25th St

In the wake of its successful Kickstarter campaign, Seward’s Birchwood Cafe is now closed for renovations. In the meantime, however, the Birchwood crew will be collaborating with the Verdant Tea team and space right down Franklin street to do a daily breakfast pop-up “inspired by Verdant’s tea-growing regions in northern China, plus new takes on your favorite Birchwood breakfast items.”


Kate N.G. Sommers/Heavy Table
Kate N.G. Sommers/Heavy Table


Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table


  • Sunsets Wayzata
  • Chez Arnaud (White Bear Lake)
  • Singapore, 5554 34th Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Birchwood Cafe | Closed for renovation, reopening late spring
  • La Chaya Bistro, 4537 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
  • Serlin’s Cafe, 1124 Payne Ave, St. Paul
  • Sally’s Saloon and Eatery, 712 Washington Ave SE | Closed for remodeling until summer 2014
  • Buster’s on 28th, 4204 S 28th Ave, Minneapolis | Temporary closure due to fire; reportedly reopening on Feb. 28



St. Paul

  • Saint Dinette, Lowertown, St. Paul | Opens April
Courtesy Urban Growler
Courtesy Urban Growler

Greater Twin Cities Area

  • Lolo American Kitchen, Stillwater, MN | March 2014
  • Peace Coffee Coffee Bar, Lakewinds Coop, Richfield | June 2014
  • Victor’s, 205 Water St, Excelsior, MN | Spring 2014
  • Maple Island Brewing Co., Stillwater, MN | May 2014
  • LTD (Live the Dream) Brewing, 812 Mainstreet, Hopkins | March 2014
  • Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors brewery expansion and tap room | 2014
  • Jordan Brewery, Jordan, MN | Spring 2013
  • Tin Whiskers Brewing Co., St. Paul | Opens 2014
  • Crooked Pint Ale House, Apple Valley; another location possible at 40th St and Lyndale Ave

The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

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