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Raphael Kadushin

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Gwen Schwanke

One of the best things about living in Madison is the fact that we're day-trip close to ethereal Spring Green. Even that ripe name has a pastoral whiff to it. And if one of the Midwest's artiest villages wasn't already alluring enough, given American Players Theatre, Taliesin and the venerable General Store, it now flaunts something Madison doesn't. That's Arcadia Books, which is everything a perfect bookstore should be and a reminder of what we lost when Borders closed. The only thing that's been missing from Spring Green has been ambitious restaurants that live up to the area's blooming frame of farms. more

Oct 18, 2012 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

It has been the kind of sizzling summer that reduces everything and everyone to a stupor, except, apparently, local cooks. Maybe the sizzling start of our global warming has motivated all the chefs; why leave the kitchen if it's hotter outside? In any case, the current spurt of new kitchens continues with the debut of Naples 15, taking over the downtown space once occupied by Cafe Porta Alba (before it moved to Hilldale) and, more recently, Las Cazuelas. more

Aug 30, 2012 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

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Eric Tadsen

We were cranky. It was another boiling day, and Forequarter's no-reservation policy made it tough to coordinate with the people meeting us for dinner. Would we be able to hold a table for the four friends joining us when we'd heard that lines were regularly collecting at the restaurant's door since Forequarter opened a month ago? more

Aug 2, 2012 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

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Paul Stroede

Some places reveal themselves slowly. I was always used to shooting through Mazomanie on the way to Spring Green. But last summer, on our way to American Players Theatre, we finally turned off the highway and saw something unexpected. Bump over the railroad tracks into Mazo proper and there are streets that could have dropped out of a Norman Rockwell-meets-Edward Hopper American daydream: flat-topped 19th-century storefronts, gingerbread cottages and clapboard houses framed by long rambling porches. The real center of town, though, is the Old Feed Mill, which was our other big discovery that August day and now a regular stop. more

May 24, 2012 2:00 PM Isthmus Summertimes

I'm not sure why so many sushi restaurants are suddenly swamping Madison. Maybe it seems easy to plop some fish over rice if you can't afford a bona fide cook. But of course the simplest dishes, done right, are really the most complex, and nothing is more demanding than sushi. more

May 17, 2012 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

When the Underground Food Collective opened its Underground Kitchen in the fall of 2010, the restaurant threw down something of a culinary gauntlet in Madison. Organic produce and regional sourcing were already familiar locally, but Kitchen perfected an exciting, coherent menu that veered between house-butchered and -cured meats and a vegecentric approach that felt entirely fresh. more

Apr 12, 2012 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

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Timothy Hughes

It may seem difficult, given the growing tide of new restaurants in Madison, to choose a top 10 list of favorite dishes. But when I started to think about this list I found it wasn't really hard at all. That's because a favorite dish is more than simply good eating. more

Mar 29, 2012 2:00 PM Isthmus Dining

HotelRED is wedged into the corner of Regent and Monroe streets, across from Camp Randall Stadium. The blocky faade is dressed up with red accents, including long terraces sheathed in red and some light bulbs that glow scarlet in the dark. You half expect someone to stand underneath the slab of a building at night yelling "Stella!" more

Mar 15, 2012 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

There is something refreshingly soulful about the Fountain, especially as the chain-ification of State Street continues apace. (And why not an actually decent chain, like maybe a Maoz Vegetarian or Le Pain Quotidien or, if we have to swallow one more cupcake, at least a Sprinkles, which doesn't pile its cakes with mounds of lard-like frosting?) more

Jan 26, 2012 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

Shinji Muramoto isn't just one of Madison's most creative chefs; he's also a very savvy restaurateur who knows how to seize on any reasonable trend. His Sushi Muramoto, in the prime spot across from Sundance, is thriving because it's smart enough to serve all the things you want to eat right now (though surprisingly it's the hot dishes, not that gummy sushi, that fare best). more

Dec 15, 2011 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

There were several surprises waiting for us at Palmyra. The first was the location. It was hard to tell if we'd ever been to that Middleton mall before, because it looked like it came out of the same box as most new malls. And then, despite rumors of a Moroccan flourish at Palmyra, and the shelves of tajine pots by the door, there was nothing Moroccan to eat. Instead the menu, like the mall, looked familiar, as if we had seen it before. more

Nov 10, 2011 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

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JonAnne Walters

2011 hasn't been the best year for Madison dining. Genuinely creative new restaurants aren't opening, and the sad fire at the Underground Kitchen in June read a little like a metaphor. But then, of course, 2011 hasn't been the best year for Madison in general, so there is something almost heroic about Henry Doane's decision to launch an ambitious, expensive restaurant in the middle of all the gloom. more

Sep 29, 2011 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

When it is done wrong, sushi is one of the easiest things to make; you plop fish on rice. When it is done right, though, it is one of the most difficult. Japanese sushi chefs train for years because each element of the simplest sushi should be flawless: the properly polished rice; the quality of the seafood; the purity of flavors. more

Jul 28, 2011 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

Corned beef and pastrami are really part of my DNA. My mom cooked a corned beef she learned to cook from her mom, in Brooklyn (when Brooklyn was more of a slum than hipster central). And my dad knew his brisket too, though that's a more complicated story. more

Jun 16, 2011 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

Thank god Lombardino's is still standing. It's hard to say how I would get through the summer without that sweet pea salad and the seafood linguini. But the redevelopment of Old University Avenue suggested something was going to have to give, and it turned out to be Lulu's, which means University Heights is pretty much in full-blown mourning. That's because Lulu's was one of the first Middle Eastern restaurants in town, at a time when ethnic restaurants still read as something exotic. more

Jun 2, 2011 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

Unhinged greed always ends up eating itself, but before it does, it consumes the rest of us too. That doesn't bode well, in our new plutocracy, for anyone, particularly Madison's kitchens, now that the city is pretty much under siege. There is no question that a number of our best restaurants will close by the end of this year, as local discretionary income goes into a free fall. more

Apr 28, 2011 2:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

So many downtown restaurants have recently opened, surrounding the Square in a tight culinary huddle, that it can be daunting to decide where to go and what to eat. So here is a quick, blatantly subjective guide to the crush of options: my tally of the best dish (in some cases dishes) at the new kitchens, and the plates that are actually worth your time and shrinking money. more

Mar 3, 2011 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

The food court that used to be the Capitol Square just keeps growing. In fact, the sheer number of new culinary players that have opened shop in the area, in the last year alone, can seem daunting, even to dedicated diners. The big question is whether there is room, after the fairly recent launches of, take a deep breath, Graze, 43 North, Nostrano, Underground Kitchen, King & Mane, Francesca's al Lago and the expanded Old Fashioned, for one more restaurant. Clearly Merchant Madison thinks so, and it has invested a lot of style and energy in that faith. more

Jan 27, 2011 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

Let's cut right to the chase. The Underground Kitchen is the first restaurant to open in Madison in a long time that feels like an immediate, unqualified success. more

Dec 16, 2010 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK

When Café Continental closed its doors in October and 43 North quickly took over the space, the already dynamic dining scene around the Square seemed ready to levitate. In fact, the talent behind 43 North almost guaranteed a creative new kitchen. more

Dec 9, 2010 3:00 PM FOOD & DRINK