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


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


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


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


Pizza Brutta

March 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

This authentic Neapolitan Pizza place has a relaxed, casual atmosphere in a shabby-chic brick building in the heart of the Monroe St shopping area.  It has an order-at-the-counter, seat yourself set up.  The service is friendly and prompt.  It’s a great place to relax over lunch with friends or colleagues.

About their sustainability: “At Pizza Brutta we take environmental stewardship seriously. Like Wendell Berry we believe that eating is an agricultural act and largely determines how the world is used. We buy our wood from sustainable woodsman and partner with local and organic suppliers for most of our ingredients including mixed organic greens from Shooting Star Farms in Mineral Point, Wi, antibiotic and free-range Prosciutto from La Quercia, Milk from Organic Valley, and cheeses from the finest Wisconsin producers (except for the Parmiggiano Reggiano).”

Mozza Pane Brutta
Slabs of house-made fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, basil garlic infused olive oil, sea salt on organic bread.  This sandwich makes Pizza Brutta a destination place, besides the wood-fire oven and hand made everything before your eyes. You can get the full sandwich or the lunch special 1/2 sandwich, 1/2 salad, includes small soda.  This is definitely on my where-to-go-for-lunch list, no matter what side of the city I’m on.

1805 Monroe St • Madison, WI • 53711
Hours: Open Daily 11am-9pm • Fri-Sat 11am-10pm


The Dining Room at 209 Main

January 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

Nestled in a charming restored building on Main St, Monticello, The Dining Room is a hidden gem of Wisconsin’s culinary treasure trove. The menu changes with the seasons, so if there is something you’re craving, check the website. After one visit, I would trust anything Chef presented. One unique feature is the display of local textile art, hung throughout the restaurant. I like the community connection and atmosphere it nurtures. 

Appetizer: Smoked Rainbow Trout
served on three miniature cornmeal pancakes, with creme fraiche, tobiko and caramelized fennel. Yum. This was a delightful way to start the meal. This perfectly-sized portion is a wonderful balance of flavors. The strong smokey trout is foiled with the creme. The light anise of the fennel will make you look at the vegetable in a whole new light. Enough to split between two without feeling deprived.

Entree: Grilled beef tenderloin filet
with worcestershire glaze, blue cheese cream, fresh asparagus and mashed potatoes. The beef was cooked perfectly, medium rare unless you say otherwise. The sweetness of the glaze and tartness of the blue cheese cream made a tongue-tingling combination. The asparagus was just lightly sautéed, enough to keep the bright green color and crunchy middle. I could eat this every time.

Entree: Sautéed veal cutlets
with a white wine lemon and caper reduction sauce, mashed potatoes, fresh asparagus and a creamy crab and shallot compote. The veal was fantastic, but for me it was all about the sauce. The sauce was rich, intriguing and addictive enough to make you want to lick the plate. The crab and shallot was an exciting grouping, a great balance to the sauce. The vegetables were delicious, but bring me more sauce.

Dessert: Crème Brulée
Pamper yourself with this fantastically light, creamy and heavenly dessert. For those of you on the quest for the perfect crème brulée, this one must be put to the test. The top crust is ever so thin, and more delicate than an eggshell. The crème is smooth with lovely specks of vanilla bean seeds in every bite.

Dessert: Sticky Toffee Pudding with toasted pecans
They say this dessert is the best dessert in the world. They say this dessert, if shared with a loved one, will test your relationship. This dessert is all that and more. It is a must for first-time diners. If trying more than one dessert, have this one last because it will overwhelm your palette and send it into ecstatic raptures.

The food was so amazing from start to finish, we bought the cook book for the sauces, and so should you.

209 Main St • Monticello, WI • 53570
Hours: Wednesday – Saturday


A.J. Bombers

December 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

This theme restaurant/bar has a casual and relaxed atmosphere with a friendly staff. They’ll turn on the sound to the big game, if you want, on any of the numerous big screens. Going on the “Bomber” theme, the restaurant is pimped out with tracks running along the ceiling on which the “bomber” canisters slide and deliver peanuts to tables and stations. It’s clever, entertaining, and compels you to eat your peanuts faster just to see the mechanism in action.  This could be my new favorite place to watch Monday Night Football, since I could get a front row seat with no waiting, and could actually hear the game-  St Louis vs Seattle.  Go Hawks!

Milwaukee Burger
This is the burger that won the Travel Channel’s Food Wars champion, so I had to try it. Quarter pound beef, double Wisconsin Colby, double Nueske’s bacon, and Schlitz onions. It comes à la carte, so make sure you order your choice of sides. Yummy burger, well grilled. I would have preferred a better bun, but the filling was quite good. It’s a pretty good burger for a pretty good price. Next time, I want to try the Barrie Burger- a burger with peanut butter.

201 W. Gotham St. • Madison, WI • 53703
Hours: Sun-Thur 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-2am


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