Eating around Downtown Madison in 180 days (or 180 hours if you’re hungrier)

By: Stefan Fletcher “Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”

                                                                                                                                    ~ Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s quote is probably averse to the more health-conscious of you but would accurately describe my plan of attack when it comes to food. Since I arrived in Madison earlier this year, I’ve had the pleasure of eating numerous culinary delicacies around town, namely out of necessity due to my struggles with cooking food more complex than scrambled eggs and toast (Impressive, I know.)

Below are my top five eateries around town for YPs to indulge in with partners, friends, and other random individuals should that should appeal to you:

  • L ’Etoile

A staple eaterie by the capital square for big spenders and those with a penchant for fine dining. If you’re looking to close an important business deal over dinner or just have a hankering to look at the capital while enjoying your halibut, this is the place for you. The new restaurant Estrellon, also run by executive chef Tory Miller, is another good pick if you prefer a broader range of pricing, plate sizes, and desert (The Basque Cake is an absolute showstopper - they should be selling this stuff commercially)

  • Pig in a Fur Coat

Small plates and sharing?

Typically I would rather eat my napkin before sharing a bit of steak with anyone, but this trend in dining has become inordinately popular around the country and Pig in a Fur Coat does it very well indeed. My mum came here a few weeks ago from the UK and declared the duck fat fries, the best chips she’s ever eaten, which is saying something hailing from a country whose cuisine is often boiled down to the omnipresent fish and chips.

  • Sardine

While dinner is good, brunch at Sardines is absolutely brilliant. Look out over Lake Monona while enjoying Belgian Waffles and a Mimosa may make you think you’re in Brussels itself (until you see someone ice fishing). Service is prompt and polite and the half-priced oysters during the cleverly titled ‘Oyster Happy Hour’ are definitely worth checking out after work.

  • Tempest

Speaking of seafood, there’s probably no better place in Madison I’ve been to than Tempest. The fish is fresh, the cocktails are solid and the live music on a Friday and Saturday is presented in front of a tastefully decorated sea shell. Get a lobster roll for an affordable, filling take on a New England classic.

  • Tornado Steakhouse

One of the first places I ate in Madison is still one of my favorites. Old-school supper club by evening, trendy downstairs bar by night, late night food on the bar menu is among the best in the city, with the steak sandwich a great midnight snack. A good choice for those of you looking for either a fantastic ‘classy date’ restaurant or, like me, the rare eatery that offers Yorkshire Puddings.

This is just a small sampling of the sumptuous scofferies around Madison, a city full of fresh ingredients and new eating experiences. Feel free to judge my choices and my dietary plan, or lack thereof, accordingly.

So, go out there and enjoy while keeping in mind this important piece of advice:

Everything in moderation, including moderation.” ~Julia Childs