Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Madison

"The Frugal Traveler" who blogs at The New York Times spent a few days in my city recently and rather enjoyed himself. From "My Trip to Madison: Bikes, Brews, Burgers and a B&B:
.... Armed with an impossibly long list of restaurants and bars to try, I crisscrossed Madison from the University of Wisconsin campus on the west side (which is also home to the Babcock Hall Dairy, makers of my first Madison “meal,” an excellent cone of orange custard chocolate chip), across the isthmus splitting Lakes Mendota and Monona that serves as the center (and location of the State Capitol, home to a fantastic farmers’ market on Saturdays) and as far east as the Ale Asylum....

.... It’s almost impossible to find a beer on tap that’s not made in Wisconsin. The bustling Old-Fashioned, a popular bar and restaurant across from the Capitol, serves more than 50 beers on tap, all from Wisconsin, and more than 100 in cans or bottles, with just one that is not: Grainbelt from Minnesota, which is pointedly listed under “Imports.” And people here know beer. I’m usually happy to argue that New York City is the height of sophistication, but I could only cringe as I compared Wisconsin’s vast beer choices with the Amstel Lights and Stellas at many New York bars. ....

...Madison turned to be as much a burger town as anything else. I tried the famed Plaza burger, staple of campus post-boozing life, and found it excellent in a greasy spoon kind of a way. And the cheeseburger at the Laurel Tavern on the west side was a $5 masterpiece. But my favorite was the black and blue burger (with bacon and hot sauce), $7.29 at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry. Stand-out sharp flavors, and not so much burger to fit in your mouth ....

I have a very forgiving stomach but even so, I had to stop eating occasionally and visit a few Madison cultural attractions. Every single one was free, unless you count the 25 cents I dropped on a map of the grounds of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The gardens were shockingly lovely, a colorful, calm escape from a city that there’s not much need to escape from. I also took a nice walk out to Picnic Point around Lake Mendota....

This is more a football town than an art town, though, and the big event of the weekend was the Wisconsin Badgers game at Michigan State. I settled into State Street Brats (packed with students and families clad in Badger red) to have a $4.50 sausage, drink a pint of Leinenkugel beer (from Wisconsin, obviously) and watch the first half, and then biked back downtown to catch the rest of the game (and close out my weekend of drinking) at the Great Dane.... [Note: I've added many of the links]
There is quite a bit more. He seems to have hit many of my favorite places downtown, and he seems to have ignored our demonstrators - who were definitely there on his weekend. He doesn't mention the Union Terrace [the picture above] but he may well have begun his trek to Picnic Point from there.

My Trip to Madison: Bikes, Brews, Burgers and a B&B - NYTimes.com