Hey everyone, welcome back. Well, it was certainly an up and down weekend for Wisconsin football. Saturday was awesome seeing my Badgers take home a win over Minnesota on homecoming weekend. We will continue to hold the Paul Bunyan Axe for a seventh-consecutive year and knowing how much that rivalry meant to me as a player, I think that’s a big deal.
Following the Wisconsin game that took place in our state capital, I boarded the team plane for our trip to Washington, D.C. to face the Washington Redskins. Losing that game the way we did was a really tough pill to swallow, but I believe we will bounce back. I’ve learned that sometimes in football, great adversity can bring guys together and I am hoping that the injuries we’ve had will bond this year’s team and we’ll move forward as a unit. It all starts this week at home against the Dolphins.
Last week I discussed some of the great homecoming traditions associated with that prestigious institution in Madison. This week I want to talk about the vast array of restaurants, bars, and attractions that our capital city has to offer. Having been there both as a young, college student and now making my home there as a “mature” adult, I feel like I have experienced all that Madison has to offer.
In my college days, I spent many a night on State Street with my friends, enjoying all of the different bars and the atmospheres that accompany them. Kollege Klub and State Street Brats were a couple of the ones we frequented, but my No. 1 hangout was Wando’s Bar & Grill. Wando’s was the spot to be during my college career because the welcoming atmosphere, outstanding food, and nightly drink specials were second to none (fish bowls are a favorite). I should also note that I worked there four years as a bouncer and bartender and on Monday nights with Jason Eck (yes Jason was 300 pounds) and Erik Waisanen on staff, it was the only all 300lb.-staffed bar in Madison. Ian’s Pizza is across the street and a great place to end the night with a unique slice. Who would have thought macaroni and cheese on pizza would be so good? The cool thing about State Street was that it didn’t really matter who you hung out with or what you were into because there was such a diverse palette of choices from which to pick.
The one thing I have noticed as I have gotten older is how the closer you get to the Capitol, the more the restaurant/bar scene kind of changes and the crowd gets a little older and more mature. Along these lines, I would recommend dinner at Tornado Steak House, which is less than a block from the Capitol on Hamilton Street for a great steak and wonderful Wisconsin Supper Club atmosphere. The Tornado Steak House will surely provide a great dining experience, as they always have for me.
Now that my wife and I are expecting our first child, we are excited that Madison has so many fun things to do with kids. When my nieces come to town, we love taking them to Ella’s Deli to ride the carousel, followed by taking them down to the Vilas Zoo to see the wide variety of animals exhibited. If I am lucky enough, I talk them into going to Babcock Hall where you can teach them how to make ice cream and then eat some which is always fun.
Madison has so many great options for families, and it really doesn’t even depend on the time of year. I recently went to the Madison Children’s Museum to see all of the renovations and remodeling, and they did a really nice job with everything. Do you remember in my first blog post about my hometown, Auburndale, when I talked about the hotly contested wiffle ball battles I had with my brother in the backyard of our farm? A few years ago, the museum asked me if I had anything that I would be willing to contribute for an exhibit of theirs on toys. Well, I gave them the wiffle ball bat the meant so much to my brother and me, and I think others will enjoy the uniqueness of the donation.
During the summer, I have spent many days biking around the lake on the numerous Wisconsin trails, sitting at the Memorial Union playing cards, fishing or boating on the lakes around the Isthmus, or listening to Concerts on the Square. It’s almost like every Saturday I could spend a day around Madison, going to the farmer’s market, taking a tour of the Capitol building, or even attending one of the many art fairs that go on. The family environment has been recognized year-in and year-out by Forbes Magazine, which annually ranks Madison among some of the best places in the country to live.
If you are looking for a great place to stay while in the area, I recommend the Holiday Inn at the American Center. I like to stop in from time to time to grab dinner as their menu has one of my favorite dishes; Tauscher Comfort Chicken (a personal recipe).
Well, that’s all I have for this week, I think we’ve covered a few of the Madison highlights! Next week, I will take you to our state’s largest city, Milwaukee, and share some of the many sports experiences I have been fortunate enough to have taken part in.