Kyle Ate Here - The buffet style edition

So, I'm almost a month behind due to a variety of circumstances, but my brain is steeped in food and food thoughts right now so hey! It's the October Kyle Ate Here post!

October was dominated, as you might expect given the length of my San Francisco post, by travel eating. It's hard to find a theme when the first three weeks of the month were a prelude to a long weekend of splurge. So it'll be an all-in-one blogging experience for this month.

The month started with a few first visits. Knowing it might be a bit of a cluster, we nonetheless joined the massive crowd trying to redeem their Groupons at Samba before they expired. The reservation process was less than smooth, to the point that I'm almost unwilling to excuse it on the grounds of sheer craziness. But they got us a table, and the meats more or less pleased. The dry pork was a total bummer and the prime rib was okay; the chicken and linguica sausage, however, were terrific. Hard to say it'd be worth full-price.

On the other hand, Luigi's--reborn on the near-west side--will definitely see us again. Nice, comfort food-y Italian. The pizza crust was buttery and loaded with cornmeal, and the white sauced pasta was rich and soft. Green Owl, Madison's only all-vegetarian restaurant, falls somewhere in-between. The cinnamon roll was meh and the potatoes were lacking in roastiness, but the Southern-style biscuits and gravy were at least a decent meatless facsimile.

We stopped at The Cookery during our annual Door County day trip; this was a first try, and a deviation from our usual lunch at Stillwater's. A brisk crowd filled both floors of the restaurant, and the whitefish chowder, house-made ginger ale, and respectable Reuben (served on white toast?) made the chance pay off well enough.

Unbeknownst to us, we sampled Tex Tubb's Taco Palace about a month before its near-west spinoff, Cactus Ranch, closed and was folded back into the pater familias. The sweet potato fries were pretty good, actually, and the recently-expanded menu looked nice. Of course, in keeping with Tex Tubb tradition, the actual food was a bit underwhelming. Stick around to see how the menu changes post-Cactus Ranch, I guess.

The best thing I ate

Our tradition will, of course, be respected here. Even with the free-form style above, there's still the issue of handing out October's kudos. Nothing, unfortunately, lived up to San Francisco's standards, but I did have one spectacular day of eating upon returning to Madison from the Fox Valley area. Johnson Public House added a Sunday Morning Breakfast Sandwich, with ham and maple syrup (yum); lunch that day was a work affair at Señor Pepper's in Oregon (a nice, cheesy pork burrito rojo); and the day ended with Kristine at Pizza Brutta. The Best Thing, however, has to be the Bada Bing white pizza at Luigi's. Bacon, fontina, and grilled asparagus? Madison's food writers are lining up for this one.