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"A" is for Ambitious

So we made it through 15 Madison restaurants beginning with the letter A.

It took 52 days, at 3.5 days per venue. That's twice as fast as our plan, for several reasons. Not the least of these is that we spent much of June tramping around Madison house-shopping and had little free time to cook meals. We (and our dining companions) bought 35 meals at a total expenditure of $358.76.

Now that we've had some practice, we've also elaborated on what our letter grades mean. We're positive now that this project is less a dining guide than a snapshot of each place.

It's also a good way to mark time - when we're old and grey, saying "We were in the L's" will help us remember the Great Blizzard of 20-ought-6 or whatever.

Without futher ado, our favorite As were:
Breakfast: Allie B's
Lunch: Argus Food and Spirits
Dinner: Angelic Brewing Co.


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TheDailyPageForum has been featuring a lively discussion on a place on Cottage Grove called "Antojitos el Toril." According to the City of Madison, it opened on 5/23/06, and yet it's not on The List.

This raises two questions, one old and one new:

1) Do you guys know how The Isthmus decides whether or not to place an eatery on The List?

2) Do you ever see yourselves making a principled visit to an obvious Madison eatery that (for whatever arcane reason) isn't on The List?

1) Isthmus seems to use the "rumor" method coupled with the "we reviewed it" method. This leads to many, many Sun Prairie restaurants not appearing but, say, The Del-Bar being included.

2) We have found that Isthmus will "eventually" figure out there is a restaurant (Brothers Three is a good example -- its been here forever but wasn't included on our first pass through the Bs for some reason) and the places they mostly seem to leave off are ones we're (usually) happier at not having eaten at (think Burger King). The list we have before us is quite long and growing fast.

Here's the make-up list as of today (I think):
Ale Asylum
Alex Polish American Deli
Atlantis Taverna
Black Lotus
Byrd's Pub and Grill
Capital Hill Grill
Carl's Cakes/Cafe Carl
Cloud 9 Grille
Copper Gable Cafe
Flat Top Grill
Fork and Spoon

That doesn't count Cosi or Antojitos el Toril. I mean, come on.

Such a detailed response begs a third question:

3) Will you ever "Mythbuster"ize Eating in Madison A to Z, and get more reviewers to do the less savory options (or heck, the more expensive options) and leave your personal favorites (or the eagerly anticipated's) to you and Nichole?

I'm not saying you should increase your workload, by the way, I was just asking in regards to some small instances in which The Isthmus drops the ball (not for new restaurants that open after you finish a letter).

Sub-contracting? I think not. For as much as I whine about how many more restaurants I have to eat at, having that decision already made for us is liberating enough to make it worth it.

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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



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