La Michoacana

La MichoacanaIn a word: Don't be a sucker; get one instead.

The specs: #00936   
6712 Odana Road, 53719
Details at Yelp, La Michoacana on Urbanspoon

Latest La Michoacana news and reviews at

JM ate an Oreo paleta.
Nichole ate a mangonada.
The bill was about $7 plus tip.
JM gave La Michoacana an A- ; Nichole gave La Michoacana an A (see our grading rubric).

Thanks to a tip from friends, we've been fans of La Michoacana since it opened in the dead of winter (much like it is now, as we post this).  Last summer, it served as a great place to take people for a simple dessert after any west side meal, and now we hear they're working on opening a second location on East Wash, in the former Taqueria Sabor Queretano space. And more paleta palaces have popped up since. Great!

La MichoacanaThe idea is these very simple, very tasty popsicles that frequently have fresh fruit (or in the case of the one JM chose) huge chunks of cookie.  We have probably, over the course of their one year in business, tried twenty of their flavors. While every one doesn't necessarily demand a retrial, there has never been one that we haven't finished. (Well, the texture of frozen cucumber was the only one that could be called an acquired taste.) Seriously, someone could eat every one of these in rainbow order and blog about it.

La Michoacana

For this "official" visit, Nichole settled on the mangonada with, and we're probably describing this wrong, chamoy fruit leather around the straw. The sticky mixture of pickled fruit paste, citrus, and chili is spicy, salty, sweet and sour deliciousness. They also make a paleta version of mango with chili, which she finds unmatched. The English fluency of the staff can vary greatly, but everyone will let you point and sample, and the menu on the wall provides some translations if you don't know your fresa from your queso (and yes, there is a queso paleta.) La Michoacana also has hot cocoa, aguas frescas and savory snacks like elote and tostilocos, but we haven't tried those yet.

We recommend going back again and again. 

La Michoacana

La Coppa Gelato

In a word: Gelato, but in the mall.

The specs: #00935   
138 W Towne Mall, 53719
Details at Yelp, La Coppa Gelato on Urbanspoon
Official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest La Coppa Gelato news and reviews at

JM tried the caramel apple & turtle cheesecake.
Marissa tried the blood orange, dark chocolate, mint Oreo and candy cane.
Nichole tried the vanilla bean, cinnamon and dark chocolate.
The bill was about $5/person, plus tip.
JM gave La Coppa Gelato a B-; Marissa and Nichole gave La Coppa Gelato a B+; Chris recused himself due to lack of interest in gelato (see our grading rubric).

A post-work pre-dinner dessert gathering at the mall. Chris, who had later plans, wandered off for something more substantial, while the other three got our gelati.

Marissa, a gelato fan, got the blood orange and dark chocolate, which was better than her mint Oreo and candy cane which was kind of fluffy with an overly sweet finish. She says: "I mean, I LOVE gelato, but I NEVER go to the mall and I can’t really see going there just for that. If I was there though, I would choose it over my other dessert options. Especially the Blood Orange Sorbet and Dark Chocolate Sorbet combo. That was delicious."

La Coppa Gelato

Nichole got the three-scoop blend of vanilla bean, cinnamon, and dark chocolate. While she agreed with Marissa that the dark chocolate was pretty kick-butt, thick and very rich in cocoa, she honestly sees herself choosing Chocolate Shoppe more often than La Coppa at the mall, which is already an arbitrary limitation. On the other hand, La Coppa offered some fancier flavors CS would not be likely to do - lemon basil, for instance, which tasted like the smell of a mown lawn (if that lawn is overrun with lemon balm and a hint of creeping charlie. This might sound awful in our words but it has its charm, and if they made a cucumber-mint gelato, Nichole would go back to try that combo).

La Coppa Gelato

JM got the caramel apple and turtle cheesecake, which did not blend as well as two caramel-based flavors should.  Both were fine, but didn't really wow. Generous and patient with samples, the server had a bit of a gamer personality which clicked with us. We were half expecting to have to roll a d20 for flavor choices.  He recommended a fruit smoothie with intense citrus flavors, which we didn't get this time but might go back for. 

Food court

La Coppa's State St. branch is closed for the winter, but even so, Madison does not want for desserts, which puts this place at a small disadvantage.

Kurt's Never Inn

Kurt's Never InnIn a word: Pithy.

The specs: #00934   
26 S Main Street, Deerfield 53531
Details at Yelp, Kurt's Never Inn on Urbanspoon
Latest Kurt's Never Inn news and reviews at

JM ate the chicken sandwich with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the cheeseburger.
The bill was $16, or $8/person, plus tip.
JM gave Kurt's Never Inn a C+; Nichole gave Kurt's Never Inn a C (see our grading rubric).

CurdsOn the Saturday following Thanksgiving, in a small town's most happening bar, you'll be lucky to find a seat.  All of the college kids (and 20somethings) home for the long weekend are stuck in town until Sunday and cannot stand being home another minute.  In Deerfield, this seems to involve going to a tiny Main Street bar, talking loudly over loud country and hip hop.  This is not Kurt's fault, as he's never in.

Kurt's was actually as much up to the task as we could have hoped.  The server was a no-nonsense 20something herself, who while also fending off a couple of "hey we should get together"s also managed to be personable and forgiving with our questions about the menu, even as the jukebox exhorted the comforts of small town living.

As for the food, the cheese curds were served cornmeal style, which was a nice change of pace.  Gritty and hot, they were gone quickly.  JM's fried chicken sandwich patty was balanced nicely betwixt dry and greasy, with a high-quality tomato.  Although the untoasted bun made the whole thing a little bready. 

Chicken sandwichCheeseburger

The flavor of the cheeseburger was good when it could be discerned. The patty could've used some seasoning, even just salt.  The cheese was plain Jane American and the pickles standard. 

Kurt's has fish fry on Fridays and Coke on the gun with Pepsi in cans.  They certainly seemed to have sold themselves to the college remnant of Deerfield, as well, though that's probably intermittent.  We're not driving to Deerfield to eat here again, but Kurt's could certainly enter a Deerfield rotation if one were required.

Koffee Kup

Koffee KupIn a word: Raise a glass without feeling mugged.

The specs: #00933   
355 East Main Street, Stoughton 53589
Details at Yelp, Koffee Kup on Urbanspoon

Latest Koffee Kup news and reviews at

JM ate the prime rib dinner.
Nichole ate the soup and sandwich combo with coffee and a piece of pie.
The bill was $27, or $13.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Koffee Kup a B+; Nichole gave Koffee Kup an A- (see our grading rubric).

Koffee Kup is a kute spot on Stoughton's Main Street. We went for dinner in November on a night the Opera House next door was having a show, and barely missed the rush; eating unfashionably early paid off again. It seemed like there were lots of regular customers there, and the service was friendly to everybody. A whole pot of coffee at the table was a buck. A buck! That's a good value. Plus they've recently made the commendable move of switching from an inferior brand of soft drink to Coke.

As for the menu, Koffee Kup is a full service small town diner that serves breakfast all day. Daily specials  of hot sandwiches round out the menu. Nichole's soup was chicken noodle and also hearty and rich. It featured thick noodles, carrots, celery, and a bit of onion. The only drawback was that there was not quite as much chicken as you'd hope.  As for the bacon and cheese sandwich, the homemade bread was delicious and the bacon was nicely smoked.

Chicken soupGrilled cheese and bacon

JM's prime rib was served, as he said, "au Kegonsa." This is to say that it came in a lake of its own juice.  It was certainly as tender as good prime rib, and he did have to eat it quickly lest it cool, since anything beyond medium rare is simply murdering a prime rib. Served with mushrooms, it was some of the best he's had outside of a meat-specific venue, up there with Old Feed Mill's.  The cole slaw was nothing spectacular, but the side of spuds was nice.

Prime rib, coleslaw, potatoes

Koffee Kup serves up pie and other baked goods as well.  Our meal was a good value, too, since half the total $27 was the prime rib. All in all, Stoughton kontributes another nice place to eat.

Pumpkin pie

Knuckle Down Saloon

In a word: Maybe put it on your to do list.

The specs: #00932   
2513 Seiferth Rd., 53716
Details at Yelp, Knuckle Down Saloon on Urbanspoon
Official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest Knuckle Down Saloon news and reviews at

JM ate the BBQ burger with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the CBR with a diet Pepsi.
The bill was $17, or $8.50/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave the Knuckle Down a B (see our grading rubric).

We would never have gone to the Knuckle Down without this project.  It is completely invisible: south of the Wendy's at Pflaum and Stoughton Rd., right next to nothing and local to no one.  Other than lots of live music, it doesn't seem to have anything going for it on paper.

This led to a lot of nice surprises for us.

First and foremost, it is a friendly and oddly inviting space. Sure, the TV was blaring a reality TV show about repo men and women, while the pinball machine looks like it gets not enough use. The bartender was nice.

The food was also pretty good.  Nichole's CBR had good chicken and bacon that added flavor without a lot of greasy excess sandwich weight. The amount of ranch was  in balance with the chicken and the roll was nicely toasted.


JM's burger came out a perfect medium rare, another nice touch. His bun, too, was toasted and stuck to the meat like glue once sandwich fusion had been achieved, though it never disintegrated.  The BBQ sauce was decent and the bacon, again, OK.

BBQ burger

The sides, though, really shone.  The fries are almost worth a trip back for.  Perfectly done with a crisp outside and yummy potato flavor.  Further, a good and hearty pickle accompanied both sandwiches.  Of course, you will also find the prices here above those of your standard bar food, which in some way speaks to its above standard quality.

If you are near, or can find the Knuckle Down, it may be worth your time, especially if Antlers is really busy for some reason.

Klassik Tavern

Klassik TavernIn a word: Didn't thrill us like Michael.

The specs: #00931   
410 W. Verona Ave., Verona 53593
Details at Yelp, Klassik Tavern on Urbanspoon

Latest Klassik Tavern news and reviews at

JM ate the steak and eggs with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the quiche.
The bill was $23, or $11.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Klassik Tavern a B-; Nichole gave Klassik Tavern a C+ (see our grading rubric).

This was our second visit to the pillared structure on Verona Road. What was once the Cozee Inn is now Klassik, and in a lot of ways it's gotten nicer - this time we were seated on the ground floor, near a window, but even the cellar seating is more inviting - the basement, before:

Dining room at Cozee Inn

After - brighter, sportier and the retro chairs are still there:

Klassik basement

Breakfast was decent. Of the steak & eggs: the sirloin was acceptable and of good proportion, the scrambled eggs were gently done and were creamy. The unbuttered, burnt-on-bottom English muffin was less than good. Sort of a southern-Algerian muffin in terms of excessive dryness and heat.

Steak and eggs

Hearty whole wheat (ostensibly) buttered toast went well with the somewhat heavy, "crust less quiche" with egg, chorizo, and cheese and a bit of green onion. It was more like an egg bake, in a way that pleasantly suggested church basement brunch. Cheesy 'tatoes did, too.

Crustless taco quiche

It would be hard to argue that Klassik Tavern is a must hit for anyone.  Even in Verona, there are better places for most of its fare.  Still, with a coupon...

KJ's Curry Bowl

KJ's Curry BowlIn a word: Curries some favor.

The specs: #00930   
7005 Tree Ln., 53717
Details at Yelp, KJ's Curry Bowl on Urbanspoon
Official Facebook

Latest KJ's Curry Bowl news and reviews at

Tea and milkshakeJM ate the BBQ pork.
Nichole ate the string hoppers with black tea.
We split three curry flavor chicken satays and a vanilla milkshake.
The bill was $35, or $17.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave KJ's Curry Bowl a B+; Nichole gave KJ's Curry Bowl an A- (see our grading rubric).

KJ's Curry Bowl bounced back from a kitchen fire early in its tenure at their location across from Madison Memorial High. It is hard to believe that subcontinental cuisine appeals to 14 to 18 year old Madisonians, but KJ's seems to be taking it in stride. 

Curry chicken satay

We split an appetizer of chicken satays that we good and chewy with a nice curry flavor and good warmth for a fall night.  JM got the BBQ pork, which was just a pile of BBQ pork served over rice with a nice side of cabbage.  Hard to imagine that this was an Asian delicacy, but it tasted pretty good.

String hoppers

The string hoppers were one of KJ's weekly Sri Lankan specials. And they were really good. A nice buttery dal and tasty chicken curry came in little bowls, with the haystack-shaped rice noodles on the side and spicy, granular coconut sambol for garnish. Nichole's pretty sure she needs more practice at eating them properly (sounds like "smooshing" is involved).

BBQ pork

The vanilla shake and some of the varied menu choices (Cajun and Mexican?) may indeed be sops to the HS crowd, which is awesome.  Nothing we tasted came off as fake, and the service was really attentive, which was nice especially with as many questions as we had. Although, the pan flute music versions of song that topped the US, UK and Australian charts in 80s?  As annoying as you'd expect.  Just focus on your company and talk about how much you like your food.


Kilwin'sIn a word: Not a candy spouse, more of a candy crush.

The specs: #00929   
208 State St., 53703
Details at Yelp, official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest Kilwin's news and reviews at

JM and Nichole bought 3 slices of fudge, a caramel apple, and a single-origin chocolate bar. The bill was $27.
JM gave Kilwin's a B; Nichole gave Kilwin's a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Nichole stopped at Michigan-based Kilwin's on Halloween to pick us up some sweets. The State Street store has a display full of chocolate- and caramel-dipped cookies and crispy treats, lots of packaged things like malted milk balls, truffles, and caramel corn, plus an ice cream counter in back and a couple small tables. In the candy store firmament, it's probaby comparable to Chocolaterie Stam in that it's a bit upscale and more boutique, but also not as single-mindedly chocolate-based as an all-truffle place. When in need of a sweet and pretty gift, it would be a good place to consider.

After hemming, hawing, and asking for help, Nichole settled on three kinds of store-made fudge (dark chocolate, salty caramel, and maple). All were buttery (JM said not quite buttery enough) and while excellent in recipe, a bit dried out around the edges. The maple was loaded with walnuts, and the dark chocolate was excellent, with much more chocolate intensity than your average fudge. The salty caramel was a good recommendation, too.

Later on, the 80% cocoa Peruvian chocolate bar was like wow, smooth and balanced. The caramel-coated, Columbia-county-grown apple was snappy and sweet, though at a whopping $7 an expensive treat.

We'd probably stop in again for a special occasion; there's lots to like.


In a word: Whose chicken came home in a bucket...

The specs: #00928   
1516 Greenway Cross, 53713
Details at Yelp, KFC on Urbanspoon
Official web site

Latest KFC news and reviews at

JM ate two Chicken Little sandwiches, mashed potatoes, and biscuit with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the chicken pot pie and a biscuit.
The bill was $13, or $6.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave KFC a B; Nichole gave KFC a D+ (see our grading rubric).

KFC dinner

Our KFC stories go back a long, long way. JM distantly recalls the one on 53 in Eau Claire. There's a story of the worst buffet ever as a mistake of a lunch break in Bloomington, IL (two words: chicken shortage). There was the one really funny David Letterman top ten list about new names for KFC (samples: Hot Oily Hens and Big Grease Stained Bucket o' Fun). Sure, KFC is a bit of a punchline, but is it any good?

When you get right down to it, KFC is good enough fried chicken and biscuits plus a convenience factor that tips the scales. Would one rather eat at Harold's? Absolutely. Does Harold's have a drive-thru? More like a 30 minute wait. And good luck finding a  family-run place in Madison to get really good fried chicken; at any given time there may or may not be one in operation.

The pot pie was large but less than stellar on delivery of chicken. KFC's mashed potatoes and biscuits are the stuff dreams are made of, provided that your dreams require preservatives. The little sandwiches are fun, but now that there's a Chick Fil-A here (there wasn't one when we went), it'll be harder to justify those.

KFC is staple fast food -- fine when you are in a hurry, disappointing most of the rest of the time.

Keystone Grill

In a word: We had our Philly.

The specs: #00927   
206 W. Main St., Cambridge 53523
Details at Yelp, Keystone Grill on Urbanspoon
Official web site, Facebook, Twitter

Latest Keystone Grill news and reviews at

JM ate the mac and cheese burger with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the chicken Philly.
The bill was $23, or $11/person, plus tip.
JM gave Keystone Grill a C+; Nichole gave Keystone Grill a C- (see our grading rubric).

Keystone Grill is a Philadelphia-themed bar just this side of the Jefferson county border. Now that we keep our own "wheel" of eating, we stick to Dane County; it turns out that Google Street View, while creepy, has been really helpful to us when we have to pinpoint what's in or out in border towns like Cambridge and Blue Mounds. (Which, by the way, lost a real gem when Hazelnut Cafe burned.)

Anyway. Keystone is spacious, a rambling building with many different rooms. It seemed like a solo server was working them all this Sunday night, while a bartender read the paper between orders. So dinner took a while.

Mac and cheese burgerChicken philly

If Pennsylvania-themed means "not very much cheese," then Keystone was right on. Sadly, in Wisconsin, this is not a plus. The chicken Philly came out fine but was lacking in a certain product as was the mac & cheese burger, which should have been a JM-favorite, but instead ended up being extra starch calories on a slightly better-than-average burger.

Keystone offers bottomless fries, and the ones they served were battered and pretty good.  The floor on the bottomless fries came from the overworked server, who at no time asked us if we'd like more - and a meal that should have taken 40 minutes was stretched to almost 90. 

Most good meals are simple. But if you remove a keystone from an arch, the whole thing tumbles. Metaphor!

About Follow madisonatoz on Twitter Contact
Blogroll Ad 
Free Blog Read our food tour
Dish du jour Creative Commons License subscribe to RSS Subscribe
Memo to restaurants Bloggers' Rights at EFF Quizzes
Reflections Tip jar
Banner image by Kayla Morelli, Red Wheelbarrow Design