There's no way to be any kind of food writer and not have a healthy sense of thankfulness for the bounty so many of us have at our disposal. It's more than just all the restaurants we have to choose from in Madison and beyond; it's the ability that we the fortunate have to experience them.
So while I ramble on about all the things I ate, and while you all read about it and consider where you might go out to eat next, let's all make sure we remember the people who aren't sure when they might eat next, to say nothing of where. Fortune, family, and friends are truly gifts to be appreciated.
Here, we discuss restaurants visited during November's travels to visit with family outside of Madison. We hit the Twin Cities mid-month, and though we didn't spend a lot of time in town, we did stop at Salut Bar Americain in St. Paul for a mid-shopping lunch. The restaurant has a goofy faux-French theme that is charming in spots, and overdone in others. The Leetle Beeg Mac was a spot-on mockup, though. In White Bear Township, Majestic Pizza is a fine little local pizzeria, with some really tasty pepperoni.
For Thanksgiving, Appleton provided more than the usual family cooking. Kristine and I drove to Darboy for some hearty diner breakfast at Mohnen's: nice corned beef hash with poached eggs, and terrific pancakes like always. Serious Burger, which I expected to be a Five Guys knock-off, was instead an exemplary burger joint with great local sourcing. And I've been to Pullmans many times before, but I've never had a meal there that's been as terrific as the New York strip I had there in November; it was perfect.
I'm thankful, too, for the friends I've made in Madison since moving here (and especially via the protests). We didn't dine with many of them in November, but they're there nonetheless. Kristine and I, meanwhile, peeked our heads into the AJ Bombers experience, and found the burgers fine and the buffalo chicken egg rolls guiltily yummy. (I did, anyway.) Surge Cafe made a fine "Zeus' Fuel" sandwich, loaded with feta--if that's your thing. The Peking duck roll at Red Sushi is worth a shot, and 4B Cafe in Oregon (beset by poor business) served up an equally worthy Reuben.
Familiar operations impressed in November. Porktropolis (which I found uneven back in January) served up a great sandwich of two briskets, and an impressive aronia berry BBQ sauce. Gotham Bagels' Spanish Harlem is as good a sandwich as it ever was. The bar at Sardine has always been a fun place for a light meal; the sopressata sandwich and bistro hot dog (both on the bar menu) wowed us.
The best thing I ate
The Thanksgiving weekend in Appleton actually provided some of the best consecutive days of restaurant dining in recent memory; that steak was remarkable. It was a perfect medium, with a great crust, and trimmed just right. The leftovers made for a fine plate of steak and eggs the next morning. But since I live in Madison, I'll choose a Madison dish. Contenders include the buffalo chicken egg rolls from AJB, and if I'd ordered the Sardine bistro dog (rather than stealing bites from Kristine), it might have won. But my Best Thing this month was the G on an everything I had at Gotham just before Thanksgiving. Full of melty cheddar, hot capicolla, and a crisp-edged egg, it was the best G I've had in a while.
I'll be back to this column in the not-too-distant future for the December edition--which I promise won't be as late. Until then, sincere thanks to all of you for reading.