Looking for beer, food, and cheese in Madison
I'll be in Madison, WI at the end of this month, and I'm looking for recs. I'll be there for several days, and there are several items I'm interested in. First, I'll take basic recs for any restaurant that I should make sure to hit while I'm there, anything that really stands out. Also, I'd love a great pizza rec -- anything I shouldn't miss? And of course WI has lots of microbreweries -- anything in particular worth visiting in Madison? Lastly, I think we may drive out the long way, just to take in some small towns and see what's off the beaten path. Is there any particular city or town in WI that's known as a cheese destination? I love cheddar, but I'd be interested in finding some places that offer other varieties as well. I know this is a multi-part question -- sorry about that. I'll take my answers off the air. :)
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/418838 I'm not sure if this links works or how to post the previous threads on the subject.. But if you do a search in the Midwest Boards using the keywords Madison, Beer, Cheese. There are several threads on exactly what you are looking for.
Here is another link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/422934
If you're looking for a nice dinner including cheese I'd definitely recommend L'Etoile. We were there last weekend had a cheese course as our appetizer. They have an overwhelming choice of 25-30 locally produced cheeses. Our waiter made recommendations and the result was incredibly good! A great combination of cow, goat, and sheep's milk cheeses.
If you are in Madison on a Saturday, make sure that you go to the Dane County Farmer's Market, which is held around the Capitol Square from 6:30 A.M. until 1:00 or 2:00. Go early, talk to the vendors. There will be lots of cheese vendors there. Stop at the little cafe that is below L'Etoile (I can't think of the cafe's name, but any vendor at the Farmer's Market can tell you where L'Etoile is) and get a pastry. Get a hot drink somewhere, and walk back to the capitol square to people watch.
I am not a beer drinker, so I will have to leave that to others, although I know that many people enjoy going to the Capital Brewery in Middleton (the 'burb just west of Madison.)
Restaurants? My favorites: Lombardino's (upscale but not snooty Italian, super Pizza Lombardino) L'Etoile for a fancy anniversary dinner, Taste of India for excellent Indian food, Ian's Pizza for pizza by the slice, including mac n' cheese pizza (I'm not kidding), Kabul for great mashawa soup and kebab. Smoky's for steak. Hmm, that's a start.
So much to say, I can't say it all. A few tips: Mircobrewery: Ale Asylum, east side by the airport and technical college. Lousy location, great beer. Cheese: the entirety of Green County, SW of Madison. More award-winning craft cheeses are made there than pretty much anywhere else in the world, and some of the factories have tours and tasting. You could go to Minhas Brewing in Monroe while you're out there, or to New Glarus brewery, both of which have tours very different from one another (New Glarus beer is better, and also has tastings). Pizza: Roman Candle on Williamson Street, or if you like deep dish, Pizza Extreme (several locations in town). Also Glass Nickel, with a few locations. Oh, and Ians, on State Street, for a slice of something unusual and creative, plus great salads (try the southwest creamy dressing).
It's Cafe Soleil below L'Etoile. Fromagination just opened on Carroll, across from the Capitol, featuring excellent local Cheeses - they'll be adding European cheeses next week.
If you're going to the farmer's market -- and if you're around on Saturday, you should -- there'll be lots of local cheesemakers, as people have mentioned. I'd pay special attention to Capri Creamery (feta and aged goat cheese) and Fantome Farms (chevre). Lots of great pizza in town, but Ian's is certainly the most characteristically Madison of the bunch. (Roman Candle great for slightly more upscale, NY-style pizza.) Off the beaten path -- I think Carr Valley does visits, and if I were going to visit one cheesemaker, that'd be it. And of course there is the Mustard Museum in Mt. Horeb.