Poor man's redirect

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Hey, Irony or Mayo readers. I'm excited to tell you you're reading the wrong website.

Today, I'm launching the official ironyormayo.com, which will be the home for future installments of Kyle Ate Here, The Hunger Danes, and any other thrilling Irony or Mayo content. So revise your bookmarks, update your blogroll, and strap yourselves in for -- oh, who am I kidding, it's only a blog.

But still. Go over there and prepare to get reading.

The Hunger Danes: District 16 - Tricia's Country Corners

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Kyle Nabilcy is, among other things, a food writer. Jenni Dye is, among other things, a Dane County Board member. We'll be visiting a restaurant, cafe, or bar in each of the county's 37 board districts in a feature we're calling... The Hunger Danes.

Yes, there really is a Tricia at Tricia’s Country Corners. Wait, let’s step back: there is a bar in Madison called Tricia’s Country Corners. It’s been there, in one form or another, since 1923. And yes, there really is a Tricia.

Just inside the boundary of District 16 (Kyle's home district), at the slightly warped intersection of Femrite Drive and Buckeye Road, is a rather large building with a long front porch and a longer history. You know it’s gonna be good when the bar’s website has a History section. In this case, general store/fueling station turns slowly into tavern, is bought and remodeled in the 1980’s as a straight-up Western bar, now has a full stage setup for musical acts.

Now, in a rougher town, you could see this place being the kind of venue that plays both kinds of music, but this is a nicely-polished bar. Coming from Madison, you’re likely to drive past Stillman Valley Farms which is full of cute animals and must put most people in a good mood simply by proximity. A nearby table was talking about threesomes -- loudly -- so yeah, there’s a comfort level here, kind of like a clubhouse.

This is bar food, so don’t expect a chalkboard with farms and produce at the front door. But the website for Country Corners proclaims burgers hand-pattied fresh every day. And bar food or not, this menu is sprawling: sandwiches, melts, baskets of fried food, even Sunday breakfast.

For us, the menu stops at hand-pattied burgers. Say no more.

We started out with some completely serviceable cheese curds. No empty shells of breading, nice and hot, and a very thick ranch dressing. A sort of deconstructed Awesome Blossom is there, too, but a classic Wisconsin bar begs a classic Wisconsin appetizer.

You want a bar burger to be juicy, maybe to the point of slightly greasy. You want it to be thick; it doesn’t have to be massive, but it should be a little messy. (They are, after all, frequently eaten with one’s back to the room, with only the bartender to see and judge us.)

The Zesty
The One and Only
Jenni opted for the Zesty Bacon Burger. As a basic BBQ bacon cheeseburger, it could have used a bit more “zest” -- pepperjack instead of American cheese, maybe -- but for less than $5, who’s complaining? Kyle couldn’t resist the One and Only Country Corners Burger, because come on. It has slices of ham and two kinds of cheese. You want a slightly ridonk bar burger experience, this is it.

A couple quibbles. This is not Brasserie V or Graze or Sardine. You may really crave a pink burger, and maybe it was the red-tinged lighting, but these burgers were on the rare side of medium. Our server never asked for a preferred doneness, so volunteer your preference if you’re not down with a medium-rare bar burger. Or do what Jenni was too chicken to do this time, and order the too goofy to be real chili salad.

Also, guys, this is the 21st century. Put a damned Ale Asylum beer on the tap list. Buy a couple sixers of Central Waters. Something. The “extensive beer list” (their words) was pretty much every permutation of Miller, Bud, Coors, and Mike’s Hard Whatever, and almost all bottled. Yes, there’s often a perception of classism with so-called craft beer, but man. Bottles of Capital Amber and Guinness were as good as it got.

So Country Corners is there, and it’s been there for a long-ass time, and maybe some of its habits die hard. But it’s got charm, and a prize wheel on the ceiling -- yes, the ceiling -- that a short woman who’s worked there for decades needs a broom handle to spin. If you need a burger with your football or country music, you can do much worse than Tricia’s Country Corners.

And! Free lemon Jello shots came around and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Now we're outnumbered

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It's all good, though. The new girl's as cute as the dogs. Everyone, say hi to Willow.


Her name comes from Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm, because like the cat in the book, she's half-Siamese and beautiful.

We have a finished basement, so that's where we've started her out. She's already jumped the baby gate from my office to the family room, and again from the family room to the stairs up to the ground floor. Now she's mrowing at the top of the stairs, and she knows full well there are other animals up here. She just wants to be with us, the little sweetie.

Willow has moved forward much faster than our initial expectations had planned for. It's pretty exciting.

Pruning

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It's time to trim some old growth on this blog. Going back to the beginning, I'll be editing out some of the spazzier, less substantial posts, and cleaning up the keepers. This is public notice, just so y'alls don't think I'm trying to whitewash, or get one over on you.

Kyle Ate Here - All tastes, Great and small

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If August is typically the "dog days of summer" period, maybe it's best to think of the month like an actual dog. In this case, most of August was comfortable -- certainly, less godawfully hot than July. But for about seven of those days, which were spent at or above 90 degrees, August was really awful.

Comparing this to, say, our pug, the distinction becomes obvious. That little guy is wonderful most of the time, but when he's a jerk, he's a real jerk. Like our Monty and his general charm, August's eats were pretty solid. These dog days went really south on one occasion, but most meals were distinctly pleasant.

(My Isthmus review of Double S BBQ in Cambridge, Wisconsin, was based on meals that happened in August. The link is over there in the upper right-hand corner.)


Low 90's, humid

I'm going to get this one out of the way, right away. You may have noticed an unremarked-upon trip to Red Lobster in July's big list. We had gift certificates to use, and that trip didn't exhaust them. So in August, we hit Longhorn Steakhouse -- another in the Darden family of restaurants. From the salted hockey puck that surely was substituted for my actual order a la Folger's Crystals, to the bizarrely smirking, quiet-talking server, to the stale and unpleasant complimentary free honey wheat bread (whither the cheddar biscuits or unlimited breadsticks of your other properties, Darden?)...well, I think that actually about sums it up.

Compared to that comically bad experience (did I mention the guy seated behind me repeatedly farting?), the doughy clump of thick noodles in my pad kee mao from Ha Long Bay was a trifle of inconvenient stickiness. The worst thing about a dinner at Graze early in the month was the sticky weather outdoors; the dining room was packed. (Two still-clamped mussels were the only other blot.) And where were the cornflakes on my Sushi Muramoto side salad?? Like a humid but sunny summer day, I guess even the kinda-bad is only a matter of perspective. Could be raining.


Mid-70's, light wind

And oh, the glory of summer is indeed glorious. The Saturday that annually witnesses the Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival was about as perfect as anyone could ask for from an August afternoon. Deep-fried bacon on a stick from Smokin' Cantina satisfied yet again, and crunchy falafel with the works from Banzo took the drunken edge off at the end of the day (even if the girl sassily told me my folded chair looked like a yoga bag).

Other meals better than their averages or my expectations included: enchiladas campeche at Laredo's East, with tender seafood and ample portions; a long-awaited return to form at Takumi (hot gyoza, warm shrimp tempura roll, and cool, silky salmon and cucumber roll); and whoa, a genuinely fresh-flavored and delicious BBQ chicken and corn salad at Noodles of all places.


This is the cod sandwich at Capital
Creamery, because I don't have a
picture of the burger.
The best thing I ate

Umami's expanded mantou bun offerings -- in August's meal, the Korean beef -- make a strong case for consideration. So too does the Mexican street corn pizza from Salvatore's. I'd add a little more spicy kick, but the fresh corn and crispy Underground nduja made for a superlative pie. And while I'd almost go back-to-back posts in lauding Oasis Cafe's pelmeni, I'm going to give this award to the double cheeseburger at Oregon's Capital Creamery. Using A Hamburger Today's burger style guide, I don't think there's a better fast-food-style burger to be had in the area. Hot, lightly seasoned patties with fresh veggies and oozing cheese... (Also, the salted caramel shake. Get one.) A drive-through burger that supports a local underdog? Ain't nothing wrong with that.