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Restaurant of the Week: Leopold’s Books Bar Caffè

Any bibliophile can affirm few things go together as well as a fascinating book and a sumptuous beverage. But drinking alone is never as enjoyable as being in a social environment. Which is what makes Leopold’s Books Bar Caffè the most notable addition to Madison’s near West Side in well over a year.

Proprietor Sam Brown scooped up the space previously occupied by Greenbush Bakery for more than two decades. Subsequently, the interior needed a complete renovation to bring his venture to life. And alive Leopold’s now is—with literary intellect, imported wines and an Art Deco aesthetic that is rare to stumble upon in the Midwest.

The front half of the single-room establishment is the bookstore. What distinguishes this aspect of the biz from other retailers is the books are mainly organized by regions rather genre. Nonfiction titles are also curated to draw as much interest as fiction selections. So when in need of a travel or history book about New York boroughs or Cuba, give a jingle to see what bookstore manager Molly Fish currently has in stock.

The next stop is the lounge area which makes a fetching backdrop for any Instagram story since furnishings like red velvet chaises and retro wall hangings abound. Coffee and alcohol are available for purchase at opposite ends of the vintage backbar running the length of the back wall. Convenient—and practical—since both sides of the beverage menu are available during open hours, even past sunset. This is an unexpected gift for night owls who prefer a properly made Italian macchiato to liquor any time of day.

For those interested in imbibing while curling up with a classic, be sure to inquire if one of the seasonal cocktails is named after an author or the tome you are holding. Such creative monikers like Jungle Bird keeps Brown and his team’s passion for research and literature ever present. As is their intention to become a favored local haunt by cultivating partnerships with other popular Wisconsin vendors such as JBC Coffee Roasters, Peter Sciortino Bakery and Madison Sourdough—the latter supplying the rotating assortment of fresh pastries available daily in the coffee area of the bar.

Plus, Leopold’s crew has more collaborations on the horizon for live music sessions on the patio throughout the fall in addition to “pop-ups” with Giant Jones Brewing and Garver Feed Mill. Thus, like every sensational story, Leopold’s seems poised to keep us entranced far beyond its prologue.

To learn more about Leopold’s Books Bar Caffè, visit www.leopoldsmadison.com.

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