Chef Rob Grisham, well known from cooking at Brasserie V and then at the former Hamilton's on the Square, is holding what he calls "a very temporary restaurant" for three nights this weekend on the Near West Side.
His Isthmus Dining Company has done two weekends in residency at 11 N. Allen St., a location that was formerly home to Salted Root Coffeehouse. The spot has seen temporary operations from the El Grito taco cart and the Underground Food Collective, which started leasing a small cafe space late last year.
Grisham is just seating on the kitchen side of the two-room space and only has spots for 15 customers at a time.
It's counter service with Grisham or other cooks running the food out. He also has one server.
He's offering a five-course a la carte menu (with items that are $8 to $20) and a $50 prix fixe menu, which can be five to seven courses. He doesn't generally figure out the menu until a couple of days in advance, so check isthmusdiningcompany.com.
The first two weekends were a huge success, he said. "It was very busy. Much busier than I had anticipated. Not in a bad way. I was happy with all the food that went out and everything, but it was crazy. The support from the community was very good."
People found out through social media, but Grisham also put up lots of posters around town.
The temporary restaurant will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Aug 4-6) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a different menu each day.
Grisham doesn't anticipate doing any future weekends in the space because the landlord is getting ready to renovate it for use by the Underground Food Collective, which is doing a cafe and some retail there, according to Underground's Jonny Hunter.
Construction for the Underground project, yet unnamed, will start in the fall, Hunter said.
"It's pretty nice of Jonny to let me go in there and use the space," Grisham said.
Grisham has done five dinners in the space so far and they've all been different, he said.
While Grisham's time on Allen Street is short, he's doing a three-day "restaurant takeover" at Cow & Quince, 407 Second St., in New Glarus, from Aug. 11-13. He's preparing a Friday dinner, Saturday brunch and dinner, and Sunday brunch.
Then on Aug. 27, he's cooking for the Taliesin Farm Dinner Series at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Spring Green. The event is from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Grisham calls his Isthmus Dining Company "a nomadic restaurant concept." He doesn't cater so much as cook for private dinner parties with tasting menus. He's also done pop-ups at Macha Tea Company, Robin Room and Heritage Tavern.
"The reception has been really positive and it's growing, which is good, too," Grisham said. "It's allowed me to make the food I'm interested in making that's really unique and you don't really see a lot of in Madison."
He said the food he's cooking now is slightly more refined than what he was doing at Hamilton's.