A sett is a network of underground tunnels where a family of badgers lives in the wild. Fittingly, it’s also the name of the recreation center at the new Union South, which opened in April 2011, on the corner of W. Dayton St. and N. Randall Ave. on the UW campus just north of Camp Randall.
On the main level, The Sett restaurant sells pub-grub and beer. The entrance area has an intimate pub-feel where students meet friends to study over their laptops. It also has windows opening onto the climbing wall that juts up from the floor below and allows viewing as the climbers follow routes up the wall. Deeper in, it opens up to a vast, two-story entertainment room paneled in dark wood. The room is complete with a huge projection TV over a full stage for watching either a Badger game or live music. The lower level also has an eight-lane bowling alley and numerous billiards tables.
The menu is a limited, but consists of all-American pub food: fried appetizers, burgers, fries and beer. The food is made to order and tasty, but slow to receive. The burgers are the best bet, and garlic fries are a must. The cheeseburger ($6.95) is made with a choice of Wisconsin-made cheese, and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, the secret “Sett” sauce and pickles.
Self-serve condiments at a station finish off the burger, though the Sett sauce does a good job standing on its own. The garlic fries, only 75 cents extra, which are crispy and delicious. The only downside to the fries is the excess oil at the bottom of the basket that saturates the generic, factory-tasting burger’s bun.
The BBQ pulled pork sandwich ($7.25) is topped with creamy coleslaw and pickles with a choice of a side. Unfortunately, the sandwich is disappointing because it is made with a similar factory-tasting bun, and needs a heartier portion of meat and more BBQ flavor. The chips and salsa are standard, but the garlic fries are still a more satisfying side option.
There are quite a number of local and microbrew beers available on tap. UW students and Union Members must show identification (of age and membership) to be served; however, a free guest pass can be obtained by non-members by asking at any of the bars on site.
An appetizer is not really needed, since a side comes with the meal. However, those looking for dessert have a couple of close-at-hand options. Babcock ice cream ($2.75 for a single) is made on campus and available at the Daily Scoop on the main level in Union South in a variety of delicious flavors. For those interested in a baked treat, Greenbush Bakery is a few minutes drive away at 1305 Regent Street where they have freshly fried doughnuts in countless delectable flavors for just 85 cents each. Open until bar-time, Greenbush caters to the college crowd.
Those with energy after the meal may consider climbing the rock-wall, or perhaps playing a friendly game of billiards or bowling. All activities are open to the public, and charge a nominal fee to play. Shoes can be rented for the rock-wall and bowling alley. Fees and times open are best checked ahead on the website.
Overall, The Sett restaurant at the new Union South is a good place to grab a bite to eat with friends, and either watch a Badger game or play some sports on the lower level. Although Memorial Union’s view of Lake Mendota is more picturesque, the newness and character of Union South’s The Sett is worth a visit.
The Sett at Union South
Location: 1308 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI
Payment: Credit Cards accepted
Price Range for Entrées: $4.50-7.50
Cuisine: Campus Sports Pub
Restaurant Hours: Sunday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (grill until 9 p.m.); Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (grill until 9 p.m.); Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-midnight (grill until 10 p.m.)