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March 24th, 2006

Dining A to Z

My wife and I formalized plans for our annual vacations last week, and one of our stops is going to be our kind of town, Madison, Wisconsin. We did everything a good set of travelers would: we used Hotwire for our hotel and Googled everything else. But there was a heavy question hanging in the air: where the heck would we eat while we were there?

Sure, Madison is a scant trip from Chicago but we’ll be on vacation and coming back to the city for meals would be most inconvenient. Then, while searching for a particular restaurant, we discovered Eating in Madison A to Z. And as we read we both thought it was a brilliant idea.

The blog’s authors are dining at every restaurant in Madison; one per week, in alphabetical order per the local paper Isthmus‘s dining guide, until they’re done. They then note their experience (without giving a typical in-depth and boring review), grade the ‘straunt, and add that to the blog. They’re currently into the “E”s. I admit I’m a little worried because the last entry was in mid/late-February, but I trust the dining duo is still on the case.

In any event it really is a swell idea for a blog. It can’t happen in Chicago because it’s just too darn big but, for a city the size of Madison, it works well.

Posted in Food and Beverage

FROM: Steve A.
DATE: Friday March 24, 2006 -- 9:05:36 am
As you may or may not know I'm in the food world. There's a good chance I know someone with a restaurant there. Would you like me to check around?

My rules for eating:
1) Always look for independently owned restaurants;
2) Obviously the more cars the better, until there are TOO many cars;
3) Larger restaurants MAY provide good food service, but smaller HAVE to in order to keep going;
4) The specials could be one of two things; what I call "Walk-in" special (emptying out the walk-in refrigerator) or something they are testing for customer acceptance for potential new menu items. Personally, I'll always go for a special.
5) Ask locals where THEY eat. If you're staying at a hotel/motel, ask the front desk for recommendations. Heck, your 'motel key' may be a discount to some restaurants.


FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday March 24, 2006 -- 10:49:22 am
Steve, if you or other Madison Pingers have any suggestions I'm all for them.

FROM: jk
DATE: Friday March 24, 2006 -- 11:38:57 am
Paul, have you been to I bet you will find some useful info there!!!

FROM: jk
DATE: Friday March 24, 2006 -- 11:41:26 am
PS--my dad was in printing before he retired, and one of his customers wrote a restaurant guide for San Francisco. I think she easily gained 40 lbs, but thanks to her, we found the best Japanese food in the city. To this day, they still know us and we are typically the only Anglos in the place.

FROM: Monica... who lives in Madison
DATE: Friday March 24, 2006 -- 2:42:38 pm
Yay Madison.
How long will you be in town? What kind of foods do you want to try?
A few places to go:
breakfast: Blufies (restaurant) or Clausens (bakery) or Marigold Kitchen (restaurant) ... Sophia's (bakery) is supposed to be good but I haven't been there yet
lunch: Marigold Kitchen or Kabul or Buraka
dinner: the Great Dane or Glass Nickel or Tutto Pasta or Kabul
... that's the short list, without thinking much about it.
I'd be happy to lead you on an ice cream tasting tour!

FROM: Paul
DATE: Monday March 27, 2006 -- 12:48:51 pm
Monica, our tastes are pretty open. We'll definitely look up those places you mentioned. Last time we were in Madison we attempted to go to Marigold but couldn't get in - too long of a wait.

An ice cream tasting tour is a possibility. I can't imagine the ice cream in Madison being bad... you know, America's Dairyland and all.

FROM: Monica
DATE: Monday March 27, 2006 -- 4:02:38 pm
with regard to Steve A.'s second point--what if there are NO cars or designated lot? Ah, walkable places.

I misspelled Bluphies earlier (as Blufies) --oops!

FROM: Merle [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday March 28, 2006 -- 2:52:06 pm
Kind of neat.

I saw a web page (pre-blog days) where someone went to the same Chinese restaurant every day for lunch, and just worked his way down the menu, item by item.

I cannot do either. There are restaurants not worth eating at. And some days (weeks), my tastes differ a lot.

I just do the scatter-shot approach. Already I've hit 63 places in downtown Oakland (CA), which covers more than half of the restaurants here... well, restaurants in the downtown area.

What is this then?

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