Dining Our Way to Mad City

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The view of the Wisconsin State Capitol from our table at the Old Fashioned Tavern.

The Mother Ship for my day job is located in Madison, Wis. My coworkers and I recently took a road trip to the “Mad City” for a strategic planning meeting. To make things more fun, we strategically planned our lunch stop to coincide with the Broadway Diner in Baraboo, Wis.

I learned about the Broadway Diner the weekend before during a TV show called “Discover Wisconsin.” Since I am a lifelong Minnesotan who now works for a Wisconsin institution, I have endeavored to learn about my employing state. Discover Wisconsin is one of my secret weapons in this cross-cultural quest.

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Inside the Broadway Diner in Baraboo, Wis.

The show featured eating establishments that use locally sourced ingredients. The Broadway Diner caught my eye because I knew I’d be travelling through the town, and because I’m developing a “thing” for diners. The diner supplies its cheese, eggs and meat from local sources.

The Broadway looks like any respectable diner from New Jersey, with a metallic outside and a tiled, stooled inside. We learned while there that the diner was, in fact, made in New Jersey, and it spent many years in Connecticut as a diner, before it was moved into storage in Cleveland, bought, and moved to its current Wisconsin location.

The food hit our lunch spots, although I had breakfast: potato pancakes with over-easy eggs and sausage. Wonderful. My co-workers enjoyed their wrap sandwiches. For those who are gluten-intolerant, the diner offers gluten-free bread.

Sated, we continued onto our meeting in Madison. After a vigorous afternoon of strategic planning, we converged as a group on The Old Fashioned Tavern and Restaurant in the center of town, directly across from the Wisconsin State Capitol.

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An Old Fashioned.

I treated myself to my first-ever old fashioned. It’s a drink served in a tumbler, which features brandy, cherry and citrus flavors. My first was so good, I had a second.

The Old Fashioned specializes in German cuisine and offers tantalizing appetizers such as spicy pickled eggs, turkey gizzards, and pork hocks. A person can even buy jars of pickled eggs “to go,” if they don’t have time for a sit-down. Fried cheese curds are on the menu, too.

I ate a Wisconsin Burger, which of course, was topped by Wisconsin cheddar cheese. I asked for fried onions instead of the raw onions on the menu, and happily received the correct onion versions.

If you’re ever in or near Madison, try the Broadway Diner and The Old Fashioned. You won’t be sorry. They can even make a strategic planning trip to the Mother Ship enjoyable.

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