The Spot

August 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

Cozy and just right on the commercial middle of Johnson St. It’s a small local joint, with big booths that scream “comfort”. The staff is friendly and personable. This is an easy place to go for an impulsive night out, or a regular go-to Spot.

Grilled Salmon
Delicious sweet bourbon glazed salmon, cooked to perfection.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Whatever you do, stay for dessert and order anything off the menu.

827 E Johnson St • Madison, WI
Website

Oliver’s Public House

January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Upscale casual, this new farm-to-table restaurant is a refreshing addition to dining on the near-West side of Madison. It is everything you want farm-to-table to be: creative, casual atmosphere, craft cocktails, an accessible menu that makes you drool. The wait staff is friendly and well informed. The atmosphere is lively but not too loud. I’m definitely bringing people here.

House on the Rock cocktail
Scotch whiskey, lemon juice, honey, ginger syrup, Bittercube bolivar bitters. This is a full flavored blend of citrus and sweet with a kick. The rest of the cocktail menu is just as inventive.

Shrimp and Scallops as an entree
The most perfectly cooked scallops that I’ve had in years. This dish is orgasmically good. Someone at the table must order this.

2540 University Ave • Madison, WI
Website

Great Taste of the Midwest 2012

November 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

It was perfect weather for the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild’s Great Taste of the Midwest, hosting 142 midwestern craft breweries this year at Olin Park. There are a few standards I have to pay homage to, but I always try to find new and interesting beers to fall in love with.  Here is an alphabetical listing of the beer tried and responses.

Ale Asylum Madison, WI
Happy Ending: This is a 7.7% abv, Belgian Abbey Ale.  This is a fine beer, but not as full flavored as I want an Abbey Ale to be.  It’s light-weight and easily drinkable.  I’m still looking for my Ale Asylum beer.

Bell’s Brewery Galesburg, MI
Cherry Stout: I don’t generally like fruit beers, but this one was surprisingly good. The cherry really blended nicely with the stout, making it a compliment, not a competition.
Raspberry Wild One: Yikes, very fruity, almost like a wine cooler.  If you like really light-weight beer that doesn’t taste like beer, this is yours.  Sorry, Bell’s, not my beer.
Black Note Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout: Still awesome.  They tapped the keg at 4:30pm, and you can better believe I was in line. 

Destihl Champaign, IL
Barrel-Aged Cherry Chocolate Imperial Stout: This is dessert in a glass.  Really, it’s like a slice of cherry chocolate cake.  I really wanted to try this beer, since the last time I was at the brewery, I was unable to sample.  This is a special release, which I think they should add to the rotation.  Well done, Destihl!

Founders Brewing Co. Grand Rapids, MI
KBS: Founders is a great brewery. I’ve been to their brew pub in Grand Rapids, it’s a fun place, lots of atmosphere and yummy food. The beer is solid, and a sure bet.

Right Brain Brewery MI
Chipotle Porter: spicy, smokey, solid porter. Found in the Real Ale tent.

Fore Quarter

October 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Tucked in the artsy heart of Johnson Street, this local hotspot is a project of the Underground Kitchen collective. There’s no sign, just follow your nose. It’s a rustic, casual place with serious food. Go early, there’s always a line. Enjoy a beverage at the Caribou across the street while you wait for your table.

Seasonal Menu
The menu changes too frequently to recommend a specific dish, so I’ll recommend all of them. The cheese platter features an amazing local selection. Everything I’ve had has been out of this world. This is a must-try for people who enjoy food.

708 E. Johnson • Madison, WI • 53703
Website

One Barrel Brewing Company

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Becoming Madison’s first Nanobrewery, brewing one barrel at a time, One Barrel opened with a packed house Friday, July 6th.  The 100 degree weather didn’t stop the craft brew fans from crowding the bar and keeping the three bartenders chain-pouring pints.  The menu says they’ll always have The Commuter Session beer and #2 Strong Ale on tap.  They also have nine “Guest Taps”, featuring beers from around Wisconsin. It’s a promising start to a great idea. 

Strong Ale #2
The darkest beer they had today- a full-flavored, murky brown glass of deliciousness.  The complex, layered taste makes this one a winner, and keep in mind the 10% ABV.  My curiosity is peaked.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the future.

2001 Atwood Ave • Madison, WI • 53704
Hours: Tues. & Wed. 4pm-11pm • Thurs. & Fri. 4pm-1am • Saturday 11am-1am • Sunday 11am-11pm

Website

Mickies Dairy Bar

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tucked in at the foot of Monroe St, most tourists skip over Mickies Dairy Bar, but the locals know better. Mickies is all character from the peeling exterior, to the original diner tables and booths, and the aging soda fountain bar, filled with University types. It’s a seat yourself place, and you have to be assertive since space is limited. The menu is hand written on giant boards above the kitchen window. All the condiments, cream, syrup, butter, jelly are in bowls on the table. If you want something it’s probably there. The wait staff is all business and no nonsense. They are fast, efficient, and you’d better be ready when they show up. They are serving a packed house from open to close, and dawdling is frowned upon. It’s one of the best breakfast places in Madison, hands down.

The Scrambler
A layer of hash browns, a layer of your choice of filling, eggs and cheese. It’s enough to feed an army. You have a choice of toast and gravy (unnecessary in my opinion). It’s an intimidating plate full of food. I usually cut it down the middle and take half home. It’s fantastic.

Cash only, please.

1511 Monroe St • Madison, WI • 53711
Hours: Tues-Sat 6am-2:30pm, Sun 7am-2pm

608-256-9476

Taqueria Guadalajara

June 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Don’t let the peeling paint and crumbling exterior fool you.  Taqueria Guadalajara is has the best mexican food in town.  Get a table in the back dining room, and prepare for a culinary trip south of the border.  The staff is friendly and obliging. The decor is typical comfort meets hole-in-the-wall, pink walls and diner furniture, complete with soccer matches on the tv.  I adore this place.  One of the family opened another restaurant: Francisco’s Mexican Cantina on E. Main St, equally great! 

Burrito Mexicano
A fantastic giant burrito beautifully topped with guacamole, sour cream and red sauce.  I usually end up getting this, because it’s so completely satisfying and delicious.  The steak is cooked perfectly tender, the tortilla is soft and chewy.  It’s a full meal, so come hungry.

1033 S. Park St • Madison, WI • 53715
Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10am – 10pm • Saturday & Sunday: 9am – 10pm • Closed Mondays

Website

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