The tuna fish at La Baguette is my fave in town, perfect bread and mayo ratio.
Erin Clune is a native of Madison. She lived for almost twenty years in New York City before moving back to town a few years ago with her family. She writes personal narrative essays, humor pieces, and articles about sustainable food. It's easy to get to know Erin better by reading her blog, life after ny where you can also find links to her professional work for Edible Madison and NPR. This past spring, she was awarded the first place humor prize from the Wisconsin Writers Association. Erin adds that she also has a Ph.D. in U.S. cultural history.
Mad Town Lunch: Erin Elizabeth Clune
Where do you work?: Near west side
Foods you love: Guacamole, prepared tableside, with house made tortilla chips. Doughnuts. Omelets. Almost all shellfish, especially oysters, ceviche, and fried clams, served from a beach shack in a red and white paper bowl. Sandwiches, made to order, on crusty French bread. Gastropub food. And I never don't want a wedge salad.
Foods you prefer to avoid or won't eat: I'm moving away from traditional Franco-American meals based around large cuts of meat. I don't eat at corporate chain restaurants at all, unless I'm on a road trip, because I like fresh and local food. I don't eat foie gras for ethical reasons. And I wish I liked Chinese food more than I do, but cold sesame noodles are my only regular order.
Favorite places to eat lunch in Madison: La Baguette, Graze, La Mestiza, Brasserie V, Sushi Muramoto.
Fallback-"go-to" lunch place: Brasserie V or Graze. When I'm alone and on the run, though, I'm no stranger to the Fraboni's sandwich fridge -- I once made those as an employee -- and I am often stopping by Whole Foods deli case for some Sonoma chicken salad and stuffed mushrooms.
Favorite lunch dishes: Bibimbap for a late lunch at Graze. Delicious. The tuna fish at La Baguette is my fave in town, perfect bread and mayo ratio. I like the caprese sandwich at Brasserie V (with frites or soup). I'm totally obsessed with Sushi Muramoto's shrimp tempura appetizers and the Tostadas de Tinga at La Mestiza. With a side of guacamole, it's plenty for brunch. I love a spicy burger at Dotty Dumpling's too. The Heart Throb, I think it's called? The bahn mi sandwich at Mermaid Café also rocks.
Now-defunct Madison restaurant(s) you long to eat at again: I liked Lulu's and the old Dotty Dumplings for atmosphere, though I am glad the food is still available at other locations.
If you could eat only on one side of town, which would you pick?: East side has more sustainable choices and diversity. West side is where I usually eat because it's close to home.
What's your # 1 food desire yet-to-be-fulfilled? I miss this hole-in-the-wall falafel joint by my old apartment in New York. Either that or a small New York style deli, with tons of simple, made to order sandwiches. I wish I had a place exactly like that here, down the street from my house. I used to walk there and it was quick and delicious. If it's not yet clear, I'm a sandwich fanatic!
Finally... pupusas, or arepas?: Pupusas. They remind me of college in California.
Do you have a question to Isthmus readers about food? Where is the best Chinese food in town? Even if I don't, my husband loves it.