Last updated 10/10/2014
When we finished the first list, we decided to be more intentional about keeping Eating in Madison A to Z what it set out to be, a date-night decision-making tool and dining diary - but also to be more flexible about what we blog about.
We'll continue to eat at restaurants in alphabetical order. We've compiled our own "Wheel" of more than 300 Dane County restaurants that we haven't been to for whatever reason. We'll regularly update the Wheel from various sources, meaning no more make-ups, Z proceeds to A. We'll include more chains but will be more flexible about what constitutes a new restaurant vs. a name change. Instead of just any change to a restaurant's name counting, there'll have to be something more significant.
We might go weeks between posts; we might write about things other than restaurant meals; we might have guest writers (interested? ask); and we might quit whenever. Until then, our rules about content, comments, and ethics still apply.
To paraphrase a wise Texan woman we often broke bread with, "if you're moved by the integrity of what we're about, you're welcome at our table."
So we're glad you're still here! Thank you for reading. We hope you still enjoy it. Also check out our favorite spots to find good local food writing in Madison.
We will continue to maintain the restaurant news link collection to the best of our ability, and hope it is useful for your research. Please let us know if there are sources we're missing (or if you'd rather we not link to your work).
As in the past, we will still provide story leads, research assistance, brainstorming, editing, referrals, re-use and photo permissions, interviews, guest posts, etc. upon request. Our material is covered by Creative Commons, not copyright, so thank you for honoring those terms. If our work and/or time is used for commercial or for-profit projects, including professional journalism, we'll probably ask for something for our tip jar.
Everyone eats. The internet is infinitely spacious. Someone was bound to do this kind of thing. Since in Madison it's evidently going to be us, we're trying our best to be at least one standard deviation better at it than a monkey on a typewriter.
To that end, we'd like to answer some FAQs, clarify some details, and supplement the short "What's all this then?" page that served us well for the first six years.
The posts on Eating in Madison A to Z are the opinions of the authors, Nichole Fromm and JonMichael Rasmus, or our invited guests. They are based on our experiences as we conduct our project based on the rules we established at its inception in May 2004.
We take all the photos we use and write all the text of our posts. When our dining companions' opinions are included, we either cite direct quotes or paraphrase, as style warrants.
We will not delete the content of posts. If we make a mistake, we'll clearly label edits, with the exception of typos and revisions to content not part of our regular restaurant posts. We'll also add links to the specs when news about a restaurant comes out after we post. We welcome correction of the facts in comments or via email: jumbledpile at yahoo dot com.
We've licensed our content here and our photos on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license. Reuse or distribution is welcome as long as the terms of this license, or other terms we agree to, are observed. Use of our content by third parties does not necessarily mean we endorse those parties' viewpoints.
We value reader comments and respect them. We especially like to learn about a menu's hidden gems and hear from unique perspectives, say, on a restaurant's accessibility, allergen awareness, child-friendliness, and vegan/vegetarian offerings.
We hold comments for moderation. We will not publish spam, abusive or off-topic comments, or reviews copied verbatim from other sources. In borderline cases, we may contact the commenter via email before publishing a comment. All comments are the responsibility of the commenter.
We don't view ourselves as restaurant critics (they're "posts," not "reviews"), but we value and try to abide by the ethics of the Association of Food Journalists.
We don't announce our schedule or our presence during our visits and maintain our anonymity to the extent we can (though why anyone would care is a mystery).
Neither of us has a day job in the restaurant business. If we have a personal connection with someone involved with a restaurant we visit, we'll disclose it.
We will not blog rumor or hearsay and will rarely venture into the behind-the-scenes territory of the restaurant business. We write from a consumer's perspective, but will occasionally opine about related (or unrelated) topics.
We reserve the right to have irrational, subjective crushes on or aversions to places or foods. And we make a lot of bad puns.
We enjoy eating with friends and friends we haven't met yet. Guests may choose to comment or not, and might use their real name or a pseudonym in our posts. We'll link to a guest's web presence upon their request.
Sponsorship and advertising activities
We will disclose our material relationships in accordance with the FTC's guidelines:
- We do not write advertorials or sponsored posts.
- We have hosted boilerplate Google AdSense text ads on individual post pages since March 2009. The revenue generated is applied to our web hosting costs (we have yet to break even).
- We have an Amazon Associates account (ditto).
- Update March 2012: We closed our Google AdSense and Amazon Associates accounts and sent all the proceeds ($83, rounded up) to Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.
- We were an ad-free FoodBuzz Featured Publisher in 2008 and 2009. We received a $100 launch bonus check (applied to our $150/year hosting costs) and a PR kit including a tote bag and business cards. When advertising became mandatory in 2010, we didn't renew.
- Bills, paying the
- When we eat with companions, we usually split the check. Sometimes we buy; sometimes our dining companion picks up the tab, for which we give thanks in the specs.
- Bucky Book once sent us a free coupon book.
- We have had the following comped, unsolicited: two desserts, a cup of ginger juice, two sides of cheese curds (#1, #2), soup and oranges, some little nibbly things, some rounds of sodas (#1, #2, #3), a macchiato, some rosemary bread, a piece of cake, and a shiitake board.
- We were paid to write an article for Isthmus' 2005 Dining Guide.
- We were paid for permission to reprint some of our words in "Post," a paper put out by Madison Newspapers, circa 2007.
- We guest-posted gratis at Forkful of News.
- We wrote "Eat like a badger," a food tour for the Rama app, published in April 2012, and reformatted it for the blog and a public library pilot project.
- We tested recipes for Farm-Fresh and Fast.
- Our photos have appeared, gratis and with permission, on Madison.com, Spectrum Culture, Vegan Madison, in UW print publications and elsewhere.
- Giving (food-related)
- We were $500-level sponsors of MACSAC's Bike the Barns in 2010, 2011 & 2012. In 2010, distinct from our sponsorship of the event, the generosity of our pledgers helped us win a prize (a Saris Bones 3-bike rack valued at $170), which we accepted. In 2013, the generosity of our pledgers helped JM win a top fundraiser prize of free ride registration ($65 value) for 2014.
- We donated $500 and participated in the 2010 Foodspotting Spotathon to benefit Heifer International.
- We were $500-level sponsors of Middleton Outreach Ministry's Canstruction in 2011 & 2012.
- We were $50-level sponsors of Madison FoodCamp in 2012.
- Other treats
- For a time, we accepted free cookbooks from various PR firms in exchange for short book reviews on our own site. We stopped posting reviews, but will still accept review copies for donation to the public library.
- EatDrinkMadison.com treated us to breakfast as a getting-to-know you gesture, and requested that we link to their dining guide in the specs.
- We participated in judging the 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 World Wide Mustard Competitions at the National Mustard Museum (in 2010 thanks to referral by Kyle Nabilcy).
- We ate and got 2 tshirts at the Grilled Cheese Academy launch party in 2010 (thanks to referral by MadisonDining.com).
- Nichole participated in the 2010 Taste of Madison judging.
- Nichole participated in the 2011 Edible Book Festival judging, and both JM and Nichole participated in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
- We were judges at the 2014 Monona Pie Party.
- The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board invited us to 2011's Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest.
- The Madison Children's Museum invited us to the 2011 Wonder Ball, where we ate a meal and received a package of AA batteries (approximate value $20) that we used in our camera.
- We have accompanied professional food writers on their restaurant visits.
They say Madison has the most restaurants per capita of any city in the U.S. JM likes lists and Nichole likes to eat, so we decided to eat at (nearly) every restaurant in Madison in alphabetical order.
Here's our method: from Isthmus' (a local alternative newsweekly) "Eats" list, we print the list of restaurants beginning with the next letter, and go to each place in order, one time. When we finish a letter, we go through a "make-up list" of places that have been added to the online list in previous letters. We go to chain restaurants, but only visit one location. For more on how we interpret The List, see "What is a restaurant, and when is it closed?"
An A means it's a favorite that we'll add to our regular restaurant repertoire and recommend wholeheartedly.
A B means it was pretty good at being what it set out to be, and we'd return if our dining companions wanted to go.
A C means it was average, and we wouldn't go back unless someone else really wanted to.
A D means we won't go back and we'd warn others about it.
An F means something was poor enough to complain about, we got sick, or there was a kitchen fire or some other calamity that made for a terrible experience.
Places will close (often!) and links will break (even more often!), and we don't always edit our archives, so call ahead before you visit a place we've covered.
There are about 600 700 [updated 2010] restaurants on the Eats list. We started in 2004 and our goal is to finish Z in May of 2012.
Until then, please feel free to comment, and enjoy!
Nichole and JM