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Friday, April 11, 2008


I'd like to thank Wisco for the recommendations for my week in Madison although I only ate at one of them. Madison and its suburbs have about 400 restaurants and a staggering number of them are not big chains. If the weather had been better I would have gone out more, but as it rained hard (two rivers under I-94 between Madison and Waukesha looked about to run over the highway on Friday morning) Tuesday through Friday I didn't even make it down to State Street and Williamson Street.

I went to Lao Laan Xang on Monday night, the Atwood location in the Barrymore Theater building because it was closer to my hotel. I ordered a couple of fresh spring rolls with tofu as an appetizer which were perfectly fine if maybe a little over-stuffed so that they fell apart. For my entree I restrained myself from ordering the laap (chicken or beef salad) and had the tam mak houng instead because I haven't had green papaya salad in years. I ordered it with 3 out of 4 stars of spiciness and I was really impressed by how the chef was able to heat the dish up to a point I haven't experienced in a long time without making me sweat. It came with a piece of fried chicken but the shredded green papaya, red and green cherry tomatoes, lime, and fish sauce along with the huge basket of sticky rice were enough that I didn't even eat the chicken.

Tuesday night I ordered pizza from Glass Nickel because it was raining so hard I didn't want to go back out after getting back to the hotel. I had the Socre Bleu which obviously has Blue cheese on it but also has walnuts on request. Walnuts are the most underrated pizza topping ever so I couldn't pass it up. I replaced the salami and Canadian bacon with extra spinach which seemed more appropriate with bleu cheese and walnuts. The toppings were good but the crust was nothing special at all so I can't say that Glass Nickel was better than any other place. Pizza crust is the key to making great pizza and not many people do it well.

Wednesday I drove out to Sun Prairie because there's a Peruvian restaurant there called Red & White that supposedly has great ceviche and lots of Peruvian potato dishes. Only thing is, they were closed. There was a guy inside sitting at the bar but the doors were locked. I booked it back to Madison and drove down Washington until I came to Ella's Deli which I remembered seeing the last time I was in Madison on my way to Chicago from Winnipeg.

Ella's is a kosher deli and ice cream parlor. To truly appreciate the place, you have to be there. Check out the "displays" link on the website. The handmade mechanical castles, clocks, and other animated decorations are really amazing. What I was interested in, though, was the possibility of a big bowl of matzo ball soup. I got that. The matzo ball was huge and didn't disintegrate in the broth at all, but it wasn't too heavy, either.

Thursday night the rain was falling like crazy so I stopped at La Bamba and grabbed a burrito on my way back to my hotel. I'll write more about La Bamba later since there used to be one where Oso is now so it's connected to Eatin' in Lincoln historically.


Anonymous Mr. T said...

Very cool. Lao-style som tam often has fermented fish paste in it that gives it a really pungent odor. I prefer Thai style by a mile.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Mr. & Mrs. Wisco said...

We're glad that you enjoyed eating in Madison! We are always excited to eat when we go back to visit. There are an astounding number of local restaurants for a city of its size.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

The som tam wasn't fishy at all. The restaurant was pretty much a Thai place with a few Lao dishes on the menu to justify the name and set itself apart. Still, way better than Blue Orchid.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...

Wiscos, Madison is one of my favorite cities ever. As I contemplate moving it's on my list along with Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

9:27 PM  

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