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Madison, WI - looking for recommendations

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We will be there from a Friday nite through Tuesday lunch. We'll eat one lunch at Taliesen's cafe, and have a reservation at L'Etoile. We're seeing "Whadda you Know" show, so a lunch place near there would be good. Breakfast is at the place we stay. Also if anyone has some suggestions on what else to do there, we've got a Sun and Mon to fill :) (good walks to see local color? is it too cold in late Oct/Early Nov to canoe? best cheese curds? best brats?)

thanks

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  1. Early morning Saturday you should check out the Farmers Market, it fabulous - if it's still going in Oct. that is.

    We almost always hit Smokeys Steak House for one dinner. If you're from NY, I'd recommend getting your hash brown fix here.

    Great used book stores near the campus. Heck, all over the place. I've found more first editions, rare and out-of-print books in Madison than anywhere else in the country.

    Drive around the lakes - Canoe? There's already been snow so I'd think twice on that one unless your fanny is unusually warm or comes with a built-in heater.

    Pick up a copy of Madison Magazine and you'll get lots more ideas.

    What 'da ya know? I wonder if Michael Feldman is related to our own sweet Dave.

    5 Replies
    1. re: bryan

      I'm curious about other people's opinions of Smokey's. Jane and Michael Stern have given a big thumbs-up, which made me want to try it, but my Madison friend, whom I eat with whenever I'm there, insists that it's terrible and won't go. Is it worth a visit?

      1. re: Chris E.

        When I've gone to Smokey's I have found that the steaks are of good quality, but the hash browns are mushy. The salad is iceberg lettuce(little to no color) with a few typical garnishes. The rolls are typical store bought, not made on-premise bread. If you go on a busy night it is very hard to hear over the noise. The service is efficient.

        1. re: Carol

          I'm afraid that this was mostly our experience too. The steaks are served on hot sizzling platters, so my medium rare steak quickly overcooked. I had to take it off the sizzling platter and eat it on my bread plate to keep it from cooking even more. It was very dry, and didn't have a lot of flavor.

          The barley soup was tasty, salad was iceberg as described. While the hashbrowns weren't soggy, they weren't the stuff of dreams as posted elsewhere on the board :) no discernable onion taste, nothing special.

          We did have good service, and we went on a Monday at 6:30, so there was no wait.

          1. re: lee

            It's been a couple of years since we've been but previously we had fun times there. If you're comparing it to a Chicago steakhouse - no dice - but for Madison, I thought it was o.k. And the hashbrowns we had were quite good. Big cocktails and big hair - a combo I always enjoyed. Too bad.

            1. re: bryan

              Bryan said

              "If you're comparing it to a Chicago steakhouse - no dice - but for Madison, I thought it was o.k."

              But my expectations were that it was GREAT for anywhere. The way everyone all over raved about the hash browns, how it was the best steakhouse in the Midwest (which I would assume includes Chicago, although perhaps not Kansas City?) etc etc. So I was expecting significantly good food, or at least not to have a dry and tasteless steak, and that there should be a hint of onion taste in the hash browns. Sigh.