Kyle Ate Here - The bites that bite

I had surgery back in June of 2011, and it wasn't fun -- lost my senses of taste and smell for a while, lots of discomfort. But at least I could eat. In April, my dear sweet wife had to undergo some dental surgery that temporarily limited her to a soft/smooth diet. Dairy state or no, we are not meant to live on pudding and ice cream alone.

If she was writing this post, she'd have some words to share with you on how annoying it was after a week or so of not being able to eat comfortably. (She's doing fine now, by the way.) But by the end of the month, even though she was still a little limited, we were at least back to some of our usual haunts.


The FluffalettaI crossed paths with a couple sausages early in April; the Chicago dog at the Home Depot East hot dog cart was tightly wrapped but its ingredients were well-proportioned, while the hot link at Papa Bear's let me down for the first time. It was a little gamey, with chewy casing. The Fluffaletta at Famous Yeti's (currently closed indefinitely due to fire) featured a heap of ham and the buttery, crusty roll they'd come to be known for -- at least by me.

There were more Ground Zero maple lattes, and the occasional baked good. They're generally pretty satisfying; the pumpkin chocolate chip bread/muffin is my go-to. Kristine and I took in a double-feature at the Orpheum during the Wisconsin Film Festival, and there was a highly mediocre pulled pork sandwich whose ultimate provenance eludes me (considering the tenuous status of the whole Orpheum restaurant operation). Elsewhere on State, Ian's put out one heck of a beef taco slice; the chicken cordon bleu was a bit overcooked, but still tasty.


A buncha food at Dickey's
What once was Victor Allen's Coffee off of East Washington near the Interstate is now Dickey's Barbecue Pit. It's Chipotle/Subway style fast-food barbecue, but I was impressed by the level of smoke on both the ribs and chopped brisket. Sauces are a letdown, but the buttered dinner rolls are heaven; I gotta get me one of Dickey's bun machines. A visit to (2012 James Beard Award semifinalistThe Old Fashioned for burger night -- and a glorious pint of Bedlam -- was both tasty and remarkably non-crowded. Even less crowded: The Fountain, which rewarded our first visit with manageable traffic, surprisingly complex beer cheese soup, and an impressive Reuben. The meat, heaped; the kraut, apple-bacony.

Pork belly mac and cheese from The Coopers Tavern seemed like a good idea for a soft meal for Kristine. The mac part was good enough, but the pork belly was overcooked and covered in a nasty gelatinous sauce. I had the slightly above average fish and chips (accompanied by an unpleasant slaw that looked like shredded dish rags). Add to that maybe the worst table in the house, strangely obsequious service, and off-tasting Monk's Cafe... It wasn't the best trip. A Friday fish fry at Wilson's Bar -- cheap, hot, salty, and serenaded with a loud and ridiculous soundtrack -- was infinitely superior.

The best thing I ate

Reuben and creole tomato soupI'd fully expected to slot Sardine into consideration, but the standouts of that evening -- other than the company -- were two pitch-perfect barrel-aged negronis. (The wilty, brown-spotted radicchio atop my seafood buckwheat crepe took it out of the running.)  No, this month's best thing basically comes down to the Duck Duck Goat pizza at Salvatore's Tomato Pies in Sun Prairie, the apple-fennel-potato hash beneath Graze's brunch kielbasa, a tender and salt-topped tomato-basil-mozzarella scone at Heritage Bakery and Cafe, and the aforementioned Fountain Reuben.

The Graze kitchen crafted a nearly perfect plate of kielbasa, hash, and eggs; the hash was just the right combination of sweet and savory. You see the picture of the Reuben. You don't need me to tell you how good it is. And the scone was a real surprise, ingredients in balance and kissed with a scattering of big grains of salt. But the Salvatore's pie topped with duck-confited-in-duck-fat, rich dollops of goat cheese and cranberries shows just how successful Pat DePula's experimentations can be. And seriously, on that perfectly chewy crust? If it comes around again, order it. Missing out would really bite.