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Weary Traveler

In a word: Manic Pixie Dream Restaurant.

The specs: #0735  
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Allen ate the Reuben.
JM ate the chicken dinner.
Nichole and Liz split the Bad Breath Burger and the walleye sandwich.
There were some beers, pie and ice cream involved.
The bill was about $19/person, plus tip.
Allen gave Weary Traveler an A; Liz, JM and Nichole gave Weary Traveler an A- (see our grading rubric).

"Weary Travelers" could describe us round about this, our seven hundred and thirty-fifth stop. We're not going to lie. We've put a lot of miles on for this project and we do get tired. We tried to combat the fatigue by resolving to keep it a hobby and not a job. (Despite that "never work a day in your life" line, we've found that being paid for doing what you love can just as easily dissipate that love like sunlight on a morning fog.) But we'll keep going because we're almost done with the alphabet, and finishing Z will provide a great sense of relief.

Anyway, a kind word, a good sandwich and a bent elbow with old friends might do much to jump-start us, but it might not make for the best reading for you. We've elided some details and taken bad photos, for which we apologize, and offer you a link to our collection of the (as of this writing) 75 pieces on Weary Traveler by other eaters.

In a nutshell, Weary Traveler distills a lot of the things about the Madison food scene - local ingredients, good beer, casual service, shabby-quirk atmosphere - at a good value.

Carcassonne at Weary TravelerThe four of us were tanking up on the Saturday night before Bike the Barns and the place was bustling. The layout didn't help - the space is bisected by the enclosed staircase leading to the building's second-floor apartments. But we found two seats at the bar while one of us stood and the other paced. A loud twenty-minute wait later, we had a table and were drinking beer and lemonade and playing Carcassonne with tiles drawn from an old Crown Royal bag.

JM got some very nice pieces of roast chicken that were well-prepared and quite good going down. They were hearty and deliciously greasy, neither dry nor napkin-sticking-to-the-fingers. The portioning was also perfect, filled out by mashed potatoes and greens.

Liz and Nichole couldn't decide between the renowned Bob's Bad Breath Burger and the walleye sandwich, so we got one of each and split them in half. BBBB had a thick patty chock full of garlic love and lots of black pepper. A thin layer of adequately warmed cream cheese balanced the sharper seasonings. The unbreaded walleye on the sandwich was smooth and filling, but both sandwiches suffered a lot from dry buns. They were not burned or stale so much as dried out, as if they'd been kept warm in a low oven too long.

Allen was tummy-patting happy with the pastrami Reuben. He had few words to add.

The "house pots and greens" (as often tweeted about) were good sides for the three sandwiches. The house potatoes are more or less home fry rounds, skin-on, and tonight they were creamy coins with delicious, crunchy browned edges and plenty salt and garlic. The greens were fresh and lightly dressed.

Key lime pieFor dessert, the excellent key lime pie was a modest slice of tart, smooth filling and real whipped cream. We also tried something relatively new: ice cream from Calliope. It was presented without ceremony. Our server simply dropped off a half pint carton, some spoons, and big coffee mugs. Flavors rotate often, and tonight we had basil-lemon. It had a very smooth texture and a rich mouthfeel, brightened up by the lemon and made earthy with tiny bits of chopped basil. We only tasted a little at the time because it was so hard to scoop, having come right from the restaurant's deep-freeze. Some of it's still in our freezer at home. We really shouldn't let it sit like that...

It was a good meal.

It's not "reflection" time, but it's never too early to say thanks for reading with us this far. Especially big thanks to those of you who've lifted us up when we stumble with a kind comment or constructive correction, a boost for the "tip jar," or by simply understanding what it is we're doing here. So we'll end by seconding the sentiment of the big guys outside the Weary:



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Deserved Madison classic in many ways, from the local beers to the kitsch to the decent prices and Willy St. clientele of hipster yuppies and yuppie hippies. The reuben is very good and quite filling. The walleye is a personal favorite. I personally like the bad breath burger except for the cream cheese; it's kind of gross. Service ranges from not great to poor which creates a patron bottleneck on the weekends, but it's all part of the Willy St. experience. Food here is also very fairly priced.

dang i said the fairly priced part twice

Any time you see pork kee mow on the specials menu, order it.

Absolutely my favorite restaurant in Madison, and not just because I've lived on the street for six years. The chicken dijonaise (sp?) is to die for. Even the carne asada brings a smile to my face. The service can be downright awful at times, unless you happen upon one of the owners serving for the night.

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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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