May 2010 Archives

Fish Fry Review: Update - Dorf Haus

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This will be a quick review, as it's a "second visit" of one of our favorite fish frys: The Dorf Haus in Roxbury.

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We arrived to the Dorf Haus promptly at 5:15pm and were shocked to find plenty of parking and lots of empty seats in the bar. With our last visit, we struggled to find parking and were fortunate to snag two seats at the crowded bar. We were also shocked (and pleased) to discover that there wasn't much of a wait for a table today - we credited the Memorial Day weekend and travel plans for the good fortune.

As we waited in the bar area, we chatted about the uniqueness of this place. It's somewhat baffling to think about how a German restaurant came to land in what is effectively, "the middle of nowhere." But this place is Germany to the core - it really does feel as if you've wandered into a Bavarian bar, despite the fact that you're sitting the middle of midwest farmland.

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Our table became available promptly at 6:00pm, and we were led to the rear dining room, where a waitress (decked out in drindl) came to take our orders. I went with the baked haddock, with a baked potato. Mark and his dining companion Therese went with the family-style deep-fried cod. Their sides included spaetzel and german potato salad. We also opted for an order of cheese curds.

The waitress headed back to the kitchen, then returned with a basket of those infamous fritters. We had forgotten about these deep-fried gems, otherwise we would've skipped the curds. The fritters are awesome - fist-sized nuggets of deep fried dough, slightly chewy, slightly sweet, and just a hint of salt. Yum. Top them with honey and it's pure heaven.

The curds arrived a few minutes later, and boo - they were Sysco catalog curds. Argh.

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After a short wait, our fish arrived, and we were excited. The deep fried cod looked amazing - as mentioned, it was served family style so it arrived mounded high on a plate - the first round included 6-7 large pieces of cod, all of which was piping hot.

Here's the cod, as it sat on Mark's plate:

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The cod was as delicious as ever. The Dorf Haus has mastered its cod batter - it's light, perfectly seasoned with hints of salt and pepper, and expertly applied. It stays crispy, clings well to the fish, and compliments everything. The fish itself is excellent, too - tender, flaky, moist and flavorful. A perfect combination, for sure.

Here's the spaetzel, which was incredible, just like it was on the previous visit. I'm not sure what it is about boiled dough that's lightly pan-fried, but it sure is tasty.

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The baked haddock was a bit of a letdown from last time - it was dry and didn't have as much flavor. It almost seemed as though they had made the baked haddock quite some time earlier, then reheated it in a dry heat just before serving.

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If I wasn't trying to watch my ever-expanding waistline, I'd go with the deep-fried cod over the baked here; it seems to be more consistent and really is one of the best fried fish offerings we've ever had. When the baked is "on," it's superb, but it's probably not worth the risk if you're trying to impress someone with a great fish experience.

The baked haddock wasn't the only thing that was "off" a bit with this visit - the service was somewhat lacking, too. Our waitress wasn't as friendly, prompt, or helpful as the last time, but the overall visit was still completely acceptable.

Dorf Haus = WIN

Service = 2 stars (slow, not very helpful, didn't come around much)
Food = 4 stars (primarily for the deep-fried cod and spaetzel)
Value = 4 stars ($44 for 3 people)
MISC = 4 stars (great environment, great overall fish fry)

Summary: Based on this follow-up review, the Dorf Haus maintains its standing as a top-5 fish fry. Even though the baked fish wasn't as good as last time, the overall meal was excellent, and is a "must visit."

So, I've lived most of my life in Wisconsin... as such, I've eaten my fair share of brats - in fact, there's a story that involves me, seven brats, and a fourth of July celebration, but that's best saved for another time.

But as much as I consider myself a true "Sconnie" (Wisconsinite), I'd never heard of Bratfest until this year. Apparently, it's been taking place since 1983, and has really "taken off" in recent years. What started as a small bratfry in a grocery store parking lot has transformed into a record-setting 4-day festival that includes 200+ music acts, a carnival, fireworks, and over 200,000 brats served.

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I met-up with Jed and his wife Jamie (sorry if I'm spelling her name wrong!), and promptly made my way over to the "heart" of the affair - the brat tent. Bratfest does a smart thing and sells their brats at a reasonable price - $1.50 will get you your choice of: a brat, a veggie brat, a hot dog, or a soda. For $3.00, you can get the infamous "Double Johnny" (two brats on one bun).

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In addition to the intelligent pricing scheme, the logistics of Bratfest are excellent. They can move a ton of people through the lines without much delay - we stood in line for maybe 45 seconds, placed our orders, and were walking away with a bag full of brats in no time. Ballparks and other events should study this festival - the efficiency is top notch. How do they do it? Here's the grilling station, affectionately known as "Tastyville" - they had about 50 people grilling brats non-stop on more than 20 5-foot-long grilles in this area.

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With brats and beverages in hand, we made our way to one of the three music stages, staked out a spot, and listened to a few bands. My only issue with the entire event stems from the music - the sound systems weren't loud enough (we could barely hear the band), and there wasn't enough seating available. Other than those two minor gripes, the event was quite enjoyable. Here's me and my brat, listening (sort of) to a band:

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We stayed until about 8:30 or so; the festival closed at 9:00pm. Definitely a good night - it's always great to see Jed and Jamie; throw in some brats, beverages, and bands and you've got a winning combination. Speaking of winning combinations, it looks like Bratfest is on track to break another world record - as of last night, they had sold 172,600 brats, and only need to sell another 36,000 today to beat their previous best.

Learn more about Bratfest here - there are some interesting stats!

Madison Marathon: 13.1 miles - done!

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I completed another race this morning - the Madison Half Marathon. I had originally planned to do the full marathon, but my legs have been absolutely "throttled" for the past week or so... There's no power in them, there's no energy - they're just completely trashed and sore all of the time (mostly in the quad area). I have no idea why, although I suspect I've been overtraining with distances and frequency.

Anyway, I decided to "rollback" to the Half rather than the Full in the interest of not injuring myself. So, at 7:20am this morning, I, along with about 5,000 other people, ran in the Madison Half-Marathon. The race was extremely well organized - it was easy to get in and out of, the registration and packet pick-up was excellent, and the water stations, support and staff were all fantastic. Definitely a great race to participate in.

Although, I say that... but it looks like my timing chip may have had an issue? I'm looking for the results online, and my number isn't coming up anywhere... According to my Garmin GPS watch, I did the race in 1:53:34, for an average pace of just around 8:25/mile. If that time is accurate, I would've finished around #90 - #95... not bad, but I really wish I could've run the full marathon. The timing website is getting hammered right now, so I'll go check the results later and update this post accordingly.

Edit: I was able to find my results: the official time was: 1:53:23.0. When I look at the Half Marathon Men's results overall, that would put me at about #90. But, they have me listed as 654 overall, 468 in the Men's group, and #76 in my age group. I'm sort of confused by the results, but I guess they know what they're doing... 654/4600 - not too shabby - puts me in the top 15%. If only my legs hadn't been so trashed!

No real plans for the rest of the afternoon or weekend - as much as it pains me to do so, I'm not going to ride or run tomorrow - I'm going to give my legs a rest with the hope that I can recover a bit.

So, not only are the roads awful around Madison (I still dare anyone to drive down University Avenue with a hot cup of coffee near their lap), but the driver's are quite honestly some of the worst I've ever experienced. I've made mention of this in the past, and most have dismissed my observations as "heresy" and due to "grumpiness," but now I have hard evidence that my claims are well-founded, reasonable, and substantiated.

Study shows that Madison, WI is the 16th most dangerous city to drive in.

I saw the story on the news last night, and boy howdy - I couldn't agree more. I'm most surprised that Madison ranked so low - I'd put it in the top 5 for worst cities to drive, ride, run, or walk in. To further validate my claims that I "know" my bad drivers when I see them, Austin ranked 4th - and you'll recall how much I disliked Texas drivers...

But back to Madison... Common driving events include:

  • Drivers speed and tailgate like crazy, regardless of surroundings: it's not uncommon for me to have people pass me on University Avenue or Parmenter Street at speeds in excess of 50mph (the speed limit is 30-35 on either street).
  • Drivers "block the box" when turning left: this incredibly stupid maneuver involves left-turn traffic pulling well into the middle of an intersection while waiting for traffic to clear so they can complete their left-hand turn. I've seen at least 2 accidents because of this.
  • Drivers do not yield to pedestrians or bicyclists, even when in "protected" zones like crosswalks or bike lanes. You have a real death wish if you commute by foot or bike in this city.
  • Drivers cannot comprehend the notion of a "round-about," yet we keep adding them... I can't tell you how many times I've seen people go the wrong way in a round-about. It's not that hard to figure out, folks! Yield to traffic from the left, and you're good.
  • They love to run yellow/red lights here. Holy cats - I've never seen so many people run yellow/red lights as I have since moving back to Wisconsin. It happens at least 2-3 times on every single trip I take, including my short, < 3 mile commute to work each day.
  • School zones? Why should I slow down for them?!
  • Drunk/distracted/out-of-control drivers are everywhere. I always get the feeling as if no one is ever in control of their vehicles here - it's as if they get in, start the car, and just "hang on" for dear life as they drive. Truly scary to see people trying to navigate parking lots, entry/exits, and so on - I just shake my head when I see a car/truck come bounding into a parking lot, the driver perched way back, arms outstretched as if they had Tyrannosaurus Rex-arm syndrome, with a complete lack of sense for their surroundings... they usually go squealing into a parking stall, narrowly missing any adjacent vehicles, and then bounce to a stop, the car rocking back-and-forth as they jam the shifter into park.

So, here's to you, Madison - congrats on the ranking... now do us all a favor and try to learn how to drive with some courtesy and awareness of those around you. As I've mentioned before, I've narrowly missed being run over by people while I'm running - it happens so often that I've stopped counting the incidents.


And speaking of drivers, I had a chance to play golf yesterday afternoon - my friend John called and asked if I'd like to join him for 18 holes at the Foxboro club in Oregon, WI, and I said "Absolutely!"

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The weather was gorgeous - low 80s, sunny, but a tad on the humid side. Oh well, who can complain when you have an opportunity to sneak out of work for a few hours on a Tuesday afternoon to hack away at the golf course?

And hack away I did. I haven't golfed since 2007 - my clubs were covered in dust, in fact! My first swing was a shot from the 1st tee... and things went downhill from there. I think I shot a 55-56 on the front 9, and we stopped counting on the back 9... :-D

Here's me at one of the tee boxes - folks, this is how NOT to tee-off:

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I say that only because nearly every one of my tee shots ended-up in the rough - I have this amazing tendency to slice each and every tee-off. So, I spend the majority of my remaining shots working my way back to the fairway. It's still fun, though. I need to get out and golf more than I have been - it's pretty enjoyable, and there are definitely worse ways to spend an afternoon.

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Lump-Lump: R.I.P

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Received some sad news last night - Lump-Lump, our parakeet, died unexpectedly and apparently of old age. Amy reports that she heard an unusual squawk from the office (where Lumpy lived in his cage) and when she went in to check on him, he was laying on the bottom of the cage, dead.

Poor little guy. I always felt bad keeping a caged bird - never seemed really fair to him, but he apparently enjoyed his cage quite a bit. There would be times where we would take him out and try to get him to "spread his wings" a bit, but he'd always work his way back into the cage - I guess it felt safe and familiar.

For those not familiar with Lumpy's story, he was found in Bentonville - he flew up to someone and landed on them. They brought him to the animal shelter, and Amy and I agreed to foster him for a while. We were supposed to hand him off to a family from Oklahoma, but for one reason or another, we couldn't ever sync our schedules. Then, we discovered that the family's house burned and several of their pets perished in the fire... had we met them when we were supposed to, Lumpy probably would've met a similar fate.

We decided that it was probably a sign to keep Lumpy, so we upgraded his cage and did our best to keep him content. I can still hear him singing - he had a nice "whistley" voice that wasn't annoying or unpleasant - it was just a happy, feel good whistle. He loved his mirror and he was a sucker for bird seed... we tried to feed him healthier options, but he was quite the seed junkie (an exclusive diet of bird seed is actually not real healthy for birds).

Anyway, we had him for around 6-7 years, and while he wasn't actively involved in our day-to-day lives, he certainly was an enjoyable little fella, and I'll definitely miss him. Take care, Lump-Lump.

Fish Fry Review: Jacs of Madison

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As much as I wanted to skip the fish fry, my loyal readers were hounding me for a new review... so, I took one for the team and set the fish finder sights on Jacs of Madison.

Jacs is located on Monroe Street, just a few blocks south of Camp Randall and the old Field House. Monroe Street is a cool little section of town - it features a lot of local mom-n-pop stores, and it also plays host to Trader Joe's grocery store. There are also a ton of little restaurants and coffee shops - it's more or less its own little city within a city. The architecture is also pretty cool - it's very "old school" which I fully appreciate. Here's Jacs as seen from Monroe Street:

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It's not a terribly huge establishment - I'd say it might seat about 60-70 people at the most. It features tall ceilings, a velvety red wall color, a large cracked-copper-top bar, and a handful of cozy 4-seat tables. Two large windows provide a nice influx of ambient light.

Upon entry, I was greeted by a hostess who asked if I might like to sit at the bar, as I was dining solo. I obliged and took a seat at the far end of the bar, where I had a decent view of the establishment (and also had an opportunity to see all of the various food plates as they left the kitchen). Here's a blurry shot of the interior:

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Jacs definitely has character - it's a comfortable and inviting place that you wouldn't mind spending time at on a regular basis. I could easily see myself meeting coworkers at Jacs for afterwork beverages...

The menu is expansive and varied - from asparagus risotto to pheasant flatbread pizza to filets and burgers with frites - there's likely something for everyone. But, alas, I was here for the fish fry. And as much as I wanted to try the frites or the curds, I went with a "safer" option of tomato basil soup, which arrived promptly and featured two nice little pieces of baguette.

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The soup had a nice consistency and texture, but didn't deliver big flavor. I expected a bit more basil punch, but for the most part, the soup tasted a lot like a standard tomato soup... Bummer, for certain.

The fish fry offering is limited to beer-battered cod and is served exclusively with potato pancakes. There were no options for baked fish, perch, shrimp, or any other types of fish. When my plate arrived, I was a bit underwhelmed.

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Why so underwhelmed? A couple of reasons... The plating seemed to be quite confused - Jacs uses some really cool plates, cups, and utensils, yet they dump their apple sauce and tartar sauce in some cheesy plastic "to-go" cups? The portions were also quite disappointing, especially given the $12 price tag. Two smallish pieces of fish and two tiny potato pancakes shouldn't cost $12... The cup of soup also ran $3 or $4... a bit "proud" for my tastes.

I sampled the potato pancake first - it was obviously homemade and had a texture that leaned more toward the pancake side than the hashbrown side. Onion flavor was very subtle, and despite having a bunch of chives mixed in, I didn't detect any chive flavor. For the most part, the potato pancakes were quite plain and unexciting. They weren't bad, but they didn't hold a candle to the potato pancakes that we've had at places like the Nite Cap in Palmyra or The Wayside in Jefferson.

I dug-in to the fish, which featured a semi-heavy, dark beer batter, and was actually quite tasty. The batter had a clear and easily identifiable yeasty beer taste, and it clung nicely to the moist and tender cod. The cod flaked apart when cut with my fork and the flavor was fresh and mild. I'd say it may have been a bit light on fish flavor, but I much prefer that to the alternative.

The fish stayed crisp and grease-free throughout the meal - a sign that it was cooked perfectly.

After finishing the plate of fish, I was offered a dessert but took a pass. In hindsight, I should've ordered dessert, because I found myself starving about an hour later... the portions of fish and sides were simply miniscule.

Jacs = FAIL

Service = 4.5 stars
Food = 2.75 stars
Value = 1 star
MISC = 4.5 stars

I hate giving Jacs a "Fail" rating, because the service was stellar - really top notch, and I loved the interior (and overall vibe of the place). The menu looked incredible as well, but everything that I sampled failed to deliver on numerous fronts... the flavors were lacking, the portions were tiny, and the prices were simply too high. My total dinner bill with one New Glarus beer, soup, fish, and tip was $25.33. That's too much, especially for two smallish pieces of average cod.

I'll go back to Jacs to sample the other menu items, but I probably won't return for fish.

Third time's a charm? (I hope)

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I was giving my bike a thorough cleaning a few weeks ago, when I discovered what appeared to be another crack in the bottom bracket area of my new bike. As you'll recall, I discovered a crack in my Cervelo frame a few months ago, and thankfully, the fine folks from Cervelo and Cronometro replaced the frame, no questions asked.

I loved the new frame - it featured a few small improvements over my original frame, and I really liked that Cervelo kept the R3's paint scheme the same from 2008 to 2009. I put about 1500 miles on that new frame - the R3 is a super fine bike, for sure.

Anyway, back to the story... I was cleaning the new bike a few weeks ago, and just about died when I saw another crack, in the exact same location as the last time. I called Cronometro, made an appointment for them to look at it, and kept my fingers crossed. Official word came back from Cervelo: "let's replace the frame, just to be safe."

They didn't suspect the crack was structural; it was most likely a crack in the paint, but Cervelo stepped-up and wanted to replace the frame for good measure. I continued to ride the bike while awaiting delivery of the new frame.

Well, it arrived this week, and Cronometro built-up a new bike for me. I love the folks at Cronometro - they're simply awesome. Their service, attention to detail, assistance and patience are second to none. They didn't even charge me for setting-up the new bike, which was a complete shocker - I had no problem paying to have the new bike built, but they waived all fees.

So... here's the new ride - let's hope that I don't ever have to warranty another single part on this bike!

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I took it out for a maiden voyage yesterday, and am pleased to report that it rode as expected: completely excellent. Thanks to minimal winds and extremely pleasant weather, I knocked out 60 miles without any trouble - averaged just over 19mph the entire time, hills and all.

I'm not entirely crazy about the new paint scheme, but I'll probably get used to it over time. For some reason, I really liked the all white look of the 2008/9 R3. At least there's enough white left on the 2010 R3 that my seat and bars still match. :-)

I'm sad to report that I don't have a review to share with you this week - I've been on an irresponsible eating binge lately, and so I forced myself to be extra good this week. The problems with attending a fish fry (for me) are many: there's usually a wait, which means we order drinks and cheese curds. Then we eat dinner, which usually includes bread, soup, and far too much food. Then we usually go out somewhere afterward, and that means popcorn, a drink or two, and then I wrap-up the evening with donuts and/or cookies... not a very healthy way to finish a week.

So, I'm going to lay-off the fish frys for a bit and re-focus on my diet. I like Wisconsin, but I also hate it - everything seems to be geared around food/drinking/socializing - it's so easy to lose track of a diet and go overboard... terribly frustrating.

With that in mind, I entered a bike race this weekend and did pretty well - I think I finished second out of about 100 folks or so. It wasn't a "true race" so much as it was a timed "fun ride" for Habitat for Humanity. It was a 50-mile course that was chock full of hills - the race was held down by New Glarus; my time was 2:43:14 - not too bad.

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I didn't get any good pictures at the event, save for this rather "interesting" photo of some type of cow that I saw while on the course... After I finished the race, I rode back over to it and took this picture - I'm still trying to figure out what exactly is going on with this little dude:

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And here I am, in the truck after the race (you can see my bike in the background) - thankfully the weather was nice (actually, it was too nice - I started the race with my leg warmers on, but had to ditch them after about 30 miles because I was starting to overheat). If I look a little tired, I was - as mentioned, there were a ton of hills... plus I wasn't looking forward to my 14-mile run after the race. :-)

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Post-race and post-run I returned home, hopped in the shower, and enjoyed a nice big bowl of Fiber One with blueberries, then cleaned the apartment. Then I got a call from one of my friends from Madison, John, who said he was going to be going out with some other acquaintances and wondered if I'd like to join them. I figured that since I burned about 4,500 calories between riding and running that I could grab a salad or something with the crew... they decided to stop by the Come Back Inn, which actually has a decent grilled chicken salad, so I had that and a soft pretzel and a New Glarus Naked. Here we are at the CBI:

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From left-to-right it's: Scott, me, John, and Evan. Evan always takes the craziest pictures - he can get the goofiest look and it's hilarious. We all had a good chuckle when we reviewed the photo. What a goofball.

I went for a 45-mile ride this morning, followed by an 11-mile run... my legs were feeling a bit heavy thanks to yesterday's workout and a somewhat brisk wind (not as bad as in weeks' past, but not enjoyable). Thought about a swim, but I'll save that for the weekdays. Ran some errands, including dropping off my bike at Cronometro - the bottom bracket cracked, again... And now I'm hanging out at the apartment, watching TV and enjoying my compression/recovery tights and socks. These things are so glorious - they really help your muscles recover more quickly. They look unusual to say the least, but man - they work!

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Contemplating dinner... thinking about a chicken breast with acorn squash or something like that.

With no racing plans for this weekend and a busy week of work behind us, we were excited to get back on track with chasing down the best fish fry around. After considering our many options, we decided to hit RP Adler's Grill and Pub, located on the far west side of Madison.

We arrived promptly at 5:15pm and were pleased to find a few good seating choices: the large and inviting bar is outfitted in dark wood and features high ceilings, plenty of pub tables, and a variety of large screen plasma TVs. The dining side seemed to be a bit of an afterthought, and conjured memories of Denny's, with its forrest green booths and carpeting. To say that it's a stark contrast to the bar would be an understatement.

The host told us that we could grab a seat at the bar, order a drink, and then make a decision as to where we'd like to sit. He added that the smallish dining area would fill-up promptly by 5:45pm, but also said we could eat in the bar if we'd like.

We grabbed one of the high-top tables and browsed the beverage menu. Mark went with a margarita; I opted for a New Glarus Naked (now back on tap!). We browsed the menu, but were most interested in the fish special, of which our waitress informed us included cod (baked, fried, blackened, or boiled), or lake perch.

I inquired if I could "mix-and-match" my cod options and was shocked when she responded with an "of course you can!" So, I ordered the three-piece cod dinner, with 2 pieces of baked cod and one fried, with steamed red potatoes for my side. Mark chose the lake perch with fries. I also asked for a cup of French onion soup, in lieu of cheese curds - Mark and I have decided that unless the curds are infamous, they're most likely going to be the standard Sysco curds, and calories don't come cheap...

The soup arrived just as I was finishing my beverage. I was saddened to see a fair amount of oil/grease in the soup; I cast aside the cheese and dug-in to the dark brown brothy cup. Any sadness quickly disappeared - the soup was fantastic. It had an initial peppery hit, a velvety and rich beef stock flavor, and a sweet and mellow onion finish. It was really a good soup - obviously homemade.

Fish frys include a baked pretzel as the bread option - the pretzel was awesome; I wish they'd have given us a dozen.

A second round of drinks was ordered, with Mark opting for an Old Fashioned (whiskey sour). The Old Fashioned was muddled (with orange - minus 1 point), and was very "watery" tasting. No favors won with the Old Fashioned, but that's ok.

Our fish plates arrived, and they looked decent, although RP won't win any awards for presentation. Here's my plate:

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The baked cod was delicious, if not a bit small. It was moist yet pleasantly firm, and flaked nicely when cut with my fork. The cod flavor was just as I'd expect - mild and smooth. No signs of butter or grease anywhere. If this would've been AYCE fish, I would've put down more that a few plates of the stuff.

The deep fried cod featured the same delicious cod base, but was covered in a beer batter that included what I believe were Corn Flakes. The result was a slightly over-battered piece of cod, but it was still delicious. The batter was extra crispy and just barely overpowered the cod. I ate the fried piece last, and was happy to find that it remained crisp, with no signs of grease or sogginess.

The steamed potatoes were average - about what you'd expect from a steamed baby red potato.

Mark's 4-piece perch plate looked delicious as well:

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Crinkle cut fries were obviously of the Sysco variety, but were well-cooked and crispy. The lake perch pieces were bigger than what we're used to seeing, and weren't quite as "firm" as what we've had elsewhere. The batter was identical to the cod batter, and featured the Corn Flakes as well. As such, I feel some of the lake perch beauty was lost in the batter, which is a shame, because lake perch can usually stand on its own - it doesn't need much batter; a light dusting and a quick fry will usually work perfectly.

RP Adler's Pub & Grill = WIN (barely)

Service = 4 stars (excellent, attentive and helpful - definitely sit in the bar area)
Food = 3.25 stars (baked was great; fried options were over-battered)
Value = 2.5 stars ($60 for two, with drinks - a bit pricey)
MISC = 3.5 stars (the bar area is enjoyable)

Summary: You can definitely do a lot worse than RP Adler's Pub & Grill - if you're in the area, don't hesitate to swing on in for a couple of beverages and what is for the most part, a decent fish fry.

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Sorry folks - no fish fry review this week as I had a 20K race first thing on Saturday morning, and I didn't want to be loaded down with a gut full of fish. I did enjoy a nice "carb load" on Friday night, by way of a bison steak, a sweet potato, some grilled asparagus, tomatoes, and a nice huge bowl or two of popcorn.

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The race came about with short notice - I discovered it purely by accident on Tuesday of this week and was fortunate enough to secure a spot in the race. The race began at 9:00am on Saturday, with the start and finish lines located at a beautiful park in Monona.

The race course consisted of one lap around Lake Mendota for a total of 20K (or 12.45 miles). About 950 people entered the race; I thought about carrying my camera to snap some pictures along the way, but decided against it as I didn't really feel like lugging a camera around for nearly 13 miles of running.

The weather was nice - mid-60s at the start, sunny, but incredibly windy. And by "incredibly" I mean sustained winds of around 20mph, with gusts in excess of 30mph. There were a couple of times where gusts of wind literally stopped me in my tracks - I nearly fell over and/or came to a complete stop while running. It was brutal at points, for sure.

Wind aside, the race went well, although I need to remind myself to stop lining up near the back of the pack during the start of a race. I spent the first 3-4 miles weaving in and out of people, which was tiring and aggravating. By around mile 5, the herd had thinned and I was able to settle-in to my normal 8-minute mile pace.

Only surprise of the race was a rather unique "aid station" that was set-up around mile 9 or 10... two guys set-up their own table with cups, but rather than filling the cups with Gatorade or water, they had them filled with beer. I started laughing as I approached and saw their sign. I thanked them as I ran by, but declined a "cold one" - there was something about drinking a beer while running that didn't seem too wise.

I finished the race with a time of 1:44:15, which was good for #278. Not too bad, I suppose, especially given my bad choice for a starting position and the strong winds.

Here I am at the finish line, just after completing my race:

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The park was really quite cool - it was huge and gorgeous, and it even had a small pond/lake in the middle of it. The race directors arranged for a band to play after the race, and they also had after-race goodies, including pretzels, trail mix, fresh cut fruit, animal crackers, and of course: beer. I just don't understand the fascination of drinking a beer after a race, but as the saying goes, "When in Rome..."

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I had about 1/4 of a cup and wished I hadn't. Normally I would enjoy a frosty beverage, especially on a gorgeous sunny day, but like I said - after expending about 2,000 calories worth of energy a beer just doesn't "hit the spot."

I stuck around to watch the band for a bit:

lmr_band.jpg

Then I headed back to the apartment and rather stupidly went for a bike ride. Holy cats - that wind was ridiculous on my ride... I almost got blown off the road (literally) so many times that I lost count. Riding with the wind at my back, I averaged 32mph. Riding into the wind, the best I could muster was 8mph! It was absolutely insane!! I called it quits after 20 miles, admitted defeat, and fought my way back to the apartment.

When I got home, I refueled with one of my favorite post-workout meals:

lmr_bfast.jpg

1 cup of Fiber One cereal, .5 cups of Silk, some blueberries, and a strawberry protein shake. 250 delicious, refueling calories.

I joined my friends the Topels for dinner in Delafield - it was great to see them, and we had a tasty dinner at the Delafield Brew Haus.

Today, I lounged around for far too long, and then went for an 80-mile ride - I love riding out here because it's so gorgeous:

lmr_bike.jpg

After my ride, I went for a 8 mile run, and then cleaned the apartment... nothing too terribly exciting, I'm afraid. Dinner tonight was a bison burger with a sweet potato. I'm counting down the days until Friday - I'll definitely hit a fish fry!

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