Kyle Ate Here - The old edition

So yeah, I turned another year older in May. I also did a boatload of work around the house--sanding and refinishing the deck rails, building a pergola, yard work, garage work--so the opportunities for going out to eat were diminished by both time, and a propensity to be sweaty and gross and not fit for public consuming.

I did manage a couple fine meals on the town, however, as well as two days in a row of pizza. (This is unprecedented.) And so, in honor of turning 33 years old, here are the top three and bottom three dining experiences of May.

The bottom three

I start with the disappointments because things always get better. And actually, the disappointments in May were rather trivial; no meal was a total letdown, and the missteps themselves were kind of minor. For example, Stalzy's Deli opened in May, in the former Africana space on Atwood Avenue--and to some acclaim. Their soft-open won praise, and I'll affirm the deliciousness of their corned beef Reuben. But the portions are a pinch uneven, and the $2.50 I paid for a whisker of mediocre potato salad needs to be remedied.

This post is probably the last time you'll see me write about Michael's Frozen Custard in a Kyle Ate Here setting; their food is fine, but they are criminally overpriced. I think I've finally learned my lesson, despite preaching it to others in the past: cherry floats and K9 custard only from here on out. There's a lesson coming on related to Madison Sourdough, too. I've had a number of bummer sandwiches here; their coffee, breads and bakery are terrific, but "fool me thrice" is kicking in.

The top three

As I said, the pros outweighed the cons in May, but three meals do indeed stand out. The first was in early May, in the throes of the complete overhaul of Williamson Street. Kristine and I finally made our way into a parking spot at Umami Ramen and Dumpling Bar for her first visit. We ate at the bar, tucked in the corner sipping on our drinks and sharing an order of pork buns. My miso ramen was terrific, and Kristine's tonkatsu ramen was as good for her as it was for me back in March. We bumped into friends on the way out, and exited to a gorgeous spring day.

The other two medal candidates occurred on my birthday weekend. I have made a promise to myself to never work on my birthday if I can help it, and the new Johnson Public House aided and abetted in my playing hooky. It was another beautiful day, only hotter, and the iced coffee was smooth and delicious. (The only complaint was a bit of iciness in the Sassy Cow ice cream in the generally lovely affogato.) The next day saw a trip to Underground Kitchen, which knocked not only my socks off, but off of my mom and stepdad. Goat seems to be a point of particular inspiration this season; in addition to some salami on the meat board, the cavatelli was perfectly soft and creamy.

The best thing I ate

Close friends may be wondering why I haven't mentioned the au revoir party for the extraordinary PBR-battered tilapia taco at King and Mane (now The Tipsy Cow); well, those close friends will probably also know why that meal had a specific black spot on it--I will say no more here. And an honorable mention goes to the fine purveyors of the bratly arts at Alt-Bratfest, turning a rainy day into a shining example of the intersection of food and politics. But the win, even over the goat cavatelli, goes to the pressed roast beef sandwich at Johnson Public House. Topped with caramelized onions and sriracha mayo, it is the perfect interpretation of a roast beef panino. I generally fly down Johnson Street without stopping, but I'm sure it won't be 34 before I stop by again.