Jan 27, 2016

A double dose of deliciousness at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry

If there’s one thing I have in common with my co-workers, it’s a love of food.  So, while we were all working in Madison, Wis., last fall, we made it our mission to find not only the best cheese curds in town, but we expanded our mission to include the best burger as well.  Wisconsin is the dairy state after all, and what goes better together than beef and cheese?  

I’ve already made it pretty clear in previous blogs that Madison has more than its fair share of bar and grills where burgers and cheese curds are staples on the menu, but while we were researching places to try, Dottie Dumpling’s Dowry seemed to strike a chord with everyone.  Maybe it was the alliteration in the name.  Maybe its initials invoked something subliminal in men with healthy appetites.  Maybe it was the notion that bigger is actually better when it comes to a good, juicy burger (each one begins with six ounces of fresh Wisconsin-raised ground beef).  Whatever the case, the place had an impeccable reputation going back 40 years, and we wanted to find out why.

Jan 7, 2016

Finding local flavor at Players Sports Bar and Grill, Madison, Wis.

If you’re a commoner like me, and you find yourself “living” on the road for an extended period of time, you start to seek out the kind of places where you can feel completely at ease when grabbing a quick bite or beverage by yourself.  After all, some friendly neighborhood dives are more friendly than others toward strangers.  

The relatively unassuming entrance of Players Sports Bar and Grill
My initial search for such a place while working in Madison, Wis. (where I eventually found several) drew me back to the Atwood neighborhood where I had previously discovered Monty’s Blue Plate Cafe.  I had seemed to recall passing a relatively unassuming place called Players Sports Bar and Grill somewhere along the way, and one evening, after finding the happy hour appetizers at the hotel rather unsatisfying, I decided to roll the dice.   

Jan 2, 2016

A commoner dines at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner, Madison, Wis.

Being on the road all the time for my new job means plenty of opportunities to explore whatever city I’m in during the evening.  However, that usually means I’m exploring on my own.  Like most commoners who love to travel, being alone isn’t a problem, but for me it does affect my decisions on what types of places I seek out.  For instance, if I have to dine alone, I’d much rather seek the comfort of a neighborhood diner or bar and grill over a trendy restaurant that’s the current “it” thing. 

So, when I began researching potential places for dining in Madison, Wis., where my first job assignment was, Monty’s Blue Plate Diner consistently stood out.  It was one of the first places I ventured out to for a meal on my own, and, as it turns out, it was one of the most memorable places I dined at during my time in Madison.

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner is located on a very busy intersection where the streets of Atwood, Division, Eastwood and Corscot all seem to meet, in the city’s Atwood neighborhood.  The area is just minutes northeast of the isthmus where you’ll find Madison’s downtown.  The blocks surrounding Monty’s Blue Plate seemed full of busy shops, restaurants and watering holes when I arrived around 6:30 p.m. one evening, and I took the fact that Monty’s parking lot was full when I got there as a very good sign.

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...