Gone Madison

24 Sep

This weekend Josh and I packed up the ole Mazda 6 and headed to the land of beer and cheese (!) to visit Jeff, A.J., Steve and Jason (J-Sco). Weirdly enough many of our good friends all relocated (for separate jobs and reasons) to the fine city of Madison. I had never been, and to be honest, I had no expectations. The only things I knew about Wisconsin were cheese and cold.

Turns out I was on the money.

We stayed at the Luker Bed and Breakfast. And by Bed and Breakfast I mean couch and air mattress and CVS bacon for breakfast (which turns out to be quite delicious). His bachelor pad is full of Ikea furniture, unhung art and capital brewery beer. Thanks for letting us stay Jeff!

Friday night we ate out and hit the town, which is actually AWESOME. Tons of little, intimate bars and restaurants. A late night bar that serves fried cheese curds. People dressed very casually to go out, which officially adds Madison to the esteemed Google Doc entitled “Places Shannon Could Someday Reside.”

Maybe since it’s cold, maybe since it’s the MidWest, people went out in jeans and cardigans and flats. You know I love sequins, but I believe they are for New Years. Heels are reserved for weddings, funerals and high school dances. Hootchie dresses only belong in far away coastal cities where famous people drink Patron, right?

It was pretty cold for September in my book, but I was so comfortable, that I wasn’t mad. Women (and dudes) everywhere: LET’S GET CASUAL! All the time!

We spent most of the night on Friday at City Bar which is in a basement. We met lots of Jeff’s Epic coworkers. Jeff works at Epic, but his friends were above average too.

I think I remember the names of maybe 3 of them that I met. There were a lot. At one point Jeff said, “That is Jordan’s roommate, his name is Eric, but I call him big Rick. BIG RICK!” The guy turned around and rolled his eyes. Just kidding, I made up that last part, but Jeff does call him Big Rick.

Then on to fried cheese curds which Josh and I somehow missed. Walking home reminded me of old times: friendly name calling and more bean dip than a Mexican family reunion.

Saturday morning we cooked breakfast and checked out the famers market. That was where Josh and I had our first cheese curds. Ultra yummers.

We sat in the student section at the Badgers game, which was flippin’ sweet. After much deliberation, I think it deserves its own blog post. More to come this week!

We slipped out of the game a little early to eat pizza and watch the Mizzou game with the Madison chapter of the MU Alumni Association. Kidding again, but I think 3/4 of the active chapter was at Jeff’s apartment for the most depressing game of the season thus far.

Seriously, sad stuff.

All this time, we tried all of Madison’s fine brews. I really can’t remember any of their names except Spotted Cow. When I travel, I try the local beers and foods, you know to fit in. I know I like light, wheaty beer. No IPAs, no ales, no Guinness (sorry Steve). Lots of times they have German names, so I really have no idea.

A.J. works for Monsanto selling seed in Wisconsin. Originally from Hillsboro, Mo. he enjoys the finer things in life. He also is not afraid to oder a Bud Light, no matter the bar, no matter the place. Always paying his respects to the water of our people. I was happy to see nothing had changed from college A.J. and that he digs Madison.

For dinner, we walked downtown again. Our first choice restaurant had a two-hour wait. Since we were cranky from the football loss, we looked for another place. Somehow we found Coopers Tavern. Right away they say they have a table for 6 available. What were the chances of that?

As the host led us towards the back of the restaurant, I notice the whole place is packed full of small tables and groups of two or four. I really don’t think there is a six person table in the joint. The host led us into a little room attached to the bar. It’s literally a 7′ by 5′ closet built against the bar and one of the walls of the restaurant. It had swinging doors like a cowboy saloon. We can’t stop laughing as we sit on wooden benches around our VIP table in a closet, totally hidden from all other patrons.

Just as I was thinking that it could be a room to quarantine people with infectious diseases who were tired of Applebee’s Car Side To Go and TV dinners, our waiter/bartender swings open a little window that looks on to our table. We were served by the gate-keeper at the Emerald City. Every once in a while, he’d swing open the little window and lean in to hand us beer or take our order. Probably in the top 5 the weirdest dinning experiences of my life. The five cheese grilled cheese was in the top 10 grilled cheeses of my life though.

Waiter in the window

We went to an Irish bar and then a Polish bar. As we walk in, we are greeted by a hostess wearing her take on a traditional polish dress (and blue hair, but whatev) and the band playing “In Heaven There is No Beer.” That happens to be the Krystopa family theme song, FYI. How great is that?

Like any trendy 20-somethings would, we had Sunday brunch. It was swanky. It involved the world’s most delicious doughnuts and Jeff showing off his newly adopted adult habit of drinking coffee.

On our way out-of-town, Jeff took us to Epic, where he works. Pardon the pun, but it was Epic. I couldn’t share photos, but I will say that has to one of the coolest workplace cultures of all time. It was quite the experience.

I just reread that last paragraph and realized it’s incredibly vague. There is an indoor slide at his work for adults. Is that more clear?

During six and a half more hours in the car with Josh, we studied the Tom Petty Wikipedia page and learned about all things Tom Petty while listening to Wildflowers.

So I dare you to hit me with some Tom Petty questions via Twitter or comments on this blog.

How cute is this? Spotted at the farmers market.


One Response to “Gone Madison”


  1. My first Badgers game « call me shannon - September 27, 2012

    […] I mentioned earlier this week, I had a lovely first visit to Madison, WI. Truly a cool town (city?), with a young, vibrant feel. Oh, and lots of […]

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