Hey, everybody remember April? Feels like a hundred years ago, and yesterday. I scheduled the Month of New project for April hoping for the least disruption, the fewest moments of "Aw, man, we can't go and do [some awesome-sounding event or one-off dinner] because we've been there before!" -- and I think it was the right call. But it was still hard.
Relief, if you can call it that, came on the last Friday of April, when we packed up the car and drove to Indiana -- in other words, well outside the effective boundaries of the Month of New rules. We grabbed drive-through breakfast literally just over the border in Edgerton, but efficiency food like this were our only cheats. (I admit I'd really been craving McDonald's french fries, like in a bad way.) On Saturday, though, it was back to all-new with the food cart-esque fare at Three Floyds' Dark Lord Day festivities. Sausage, brisket tacos with a quantity of cilantro that might register as defoliation in some jurisdictions, and oh yeah, a whole pint of Dark Lord ice cream all to myself. If it wasn't raining, windy, and fairly cold, I might have eaten more than half.
The closing week of the project appropriately landed map pins in three distinct and disparate regions of Madison, plus one outside of Madison to wrap things up. Hong Kong Station was a curveball, thrown when the intended Campus Biryani (aka Biryani & Gyros) trip was stymied by an unannounced lunch closure. (The mailman of all people told me that the owner does his own delivery runs and was probably on one then.) HKS is a madhouse at lunch when students are in town, like the stock market floor. BBQ buns were huge and inadvisable in quantities more than one or two per person. I ordered the half-dozen. Oops.
After arriving back in the 608 post-Dark Lord Day, my household wasn't up for much more than a quick drive for food, and definitely didn't want to cook. Rosati's, which Kristine has had before but I have not, was the answer. It wasn't the best answer, maybe, with a kinda bland Cheef sandwich undercut by not getting it gravy-dipped. I'll go back, but order differently.
Sofra Family Bistro, now that's the right answer -- I think, perhaps, to any question. Warm service, an atmosphere that evokes the best (read: cleanest) version of the Dardanelles on Monroe (RIP), and some really enjoyable central/eastern Mediterranean fare. The raki plate has a little bit of everything, and it's all good. Including those sausages. Man, they're the best.
And oh, what a way to end the month: Chicken Lips out in Sun Prairie -- just down the road from Willie Ty's, which I was reviewing throughout the month but totally didn't tell you guys about. Chicken Lips has a reputation for wings, and it is deserved. It's got a reputation for being a bit nutty, and that's deserved too. But the way it all comes together? Unexpectedly rough-but-sweet, charmingly low production value, completely without pretension. And a solid-ass bacon cheeseburger, too.
The big question at the end of all of this is: Would I do it again? Would I craft a list, stick to it a little, hold faithful to the rules, and set aside a whole month to only eat at new places? I won't speak for the rest of my household, but I think I would. It's a good force; it gets you to really think about your dining decisions and the exposure to new things is never bad. But it's hard. You miss your favorites. The frites at Brasserie V, biscuits at 4 & 20, and even things that aren't loaded with delicious carbs. I rushed back to those things with the quickness. Challenges shouldn't be easy, though, or they wouldn't be challenges. The Month of New was no exception.