Thursday, September 20th, 2012

It’s guy night! Otherwise known as We’re going out to eat, honey!

My Darling B usually has the car and picks me up from work, but tonight I had the car and picked B up, putting us both on the west side of town at exactly the time that both our tummies started growling in unison.

“What are we doing for dinner tonight?” she asked, as we pulled out of the parking lot. I suggested that we could either stop at the grocery store on the way home, where I’d pick up a salmon fillet, take it home and broil it for dinner, OR we could drive just three minutes down the road to our favorite Italian restaurant, Lombardino’s, where we could both enjoy a refreshing cocktail and a big plate of spaghetti.

“Which would you rather do?” My Darling B asked me.

Wow. Talk about a no-brainer.

It just so happened that we showed up at that certain time of the evening on that certain night of the week that they were offering a special on three different kinds of wine by the glass, according to the lovely young lady who brought us samples to taste. My only regret of the evening is that I should have splurged and ordered a glass of the delicious third glass that I’ve already forgotten the name of because I thought, Hell, I’ll never forget a name as distinctive as that and didn’t write it down.

Instead of a glass of wine I ordered a pomegranate martini, partly because B ordered one, too, and I thought it’d be cute if we both had the same drink, and partly because the name of the drink had “martini” in it, despite the fact that there wasn’t a drop of gin or vermouth within a hundred feet of it. I should’ve known it would only disappoint me.

That huge plate of spaghetti sure didn’t disappoint me, though, and neither did the plate of calamari we ordered for an appetizer. I thought maybe we’d munch a couple of those as we sipped our cocktails but we ended up wolfing down the whole serving, yummy as they were. The marinara sauce, garnished with horseradish, really did the trick there. Couldn’t finish the entree, though. Didn’t even try.

Lombardino’s | 9:05 pm CST
Category: booze, food & drink, Guy Night, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants | Tags: ,
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Saturday, May 14th, 2011

We went to Bunky’s Cafe for dinner on Friday the 13th because we couldn’t come up with another place we wanted to visit that wasn’t already booked solid. We didn’t used to have any trouble booking reservations at Peppino’s, but that was largely because they didn’t take reservations more than a day in advance and I worked right across the street, so I’d walk over there right after work and be one of the first reservations on the book.

But Peppino’s is gone now, sadly, and Nostrano, the restaurant that took its place, doesn’t have the same reservation policy. When we called on Wednesday they were booked until after eight o’clock and we didn’t want to eat that late, so I suggested Lombardino’s. We’d eaten there last summer and liked it quite a lot, but when B phoned them it turned out they were booked until doomsday, too!

And we found out why: This is graduation weekend. Everybody and his mother – literally! – is in town to send the grads off in style with dinner at a local restaurant. We were lucky to get a table in Bunky’s at such short notice. Not that we were settling; we like Bunky’s quite a lot, but for our Friday the 13th celebration we like to have frou-frou cocktails before the meal and Bunky’s didn’t serve any, so Bunky’s is out for our next Friday the 13th.

On the up side, we didn’t spend half as much as we usually dropped at Peppino’s. The tradition that kept us going back there cost us at least a hundred bucks each time, but the menu and the frou-frou drinks made it worthwhile. Oh, and the company, of course. Can’t spend too much on My Darling B.

TGIF13th | 8:25 am CST
Category: daily drivel, food & drink, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants | Tags: , ,
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Friday, January 28th, 2011

On our second night out for Madison’s Restaurant Week we went to Lombardino’s, an Italian restaurant on the west side of town that everyone has been telling me is one of the best dining experiences in Madison, and they were right. As soon as we walked in the door and I saw coat hooks everywhere I thought, I am really going to like this place.

It’s the little things that count. You can hire the best chef in town, but if your wait staff sucks sewer water and your bathrooms are ice cold and smell like a ripe dumpster on a hot day in August, who’ll want to eat at your place? Well, one of those very important little things, at least to me, is just this: Coat hooks. When did it become acceptable to skimp on coat hooks? Especially here in Wisconsin, where presumably every customer who comes tromping in during the winter is going to be wearing a long, heavy coat. If I have to hang my winter coat off the back of my chair, so the tail drags on the ground where everyone can step on it, right away I’m not happy with the place. And where am I supposed to put my gloves and hat? On the table where they’ll inevitably sop up the spilled ice water? I’m just not having a good experience when it begins like that, so thank you, Lombardino’s, for the coat hooks. And not just a few token hooks near the door. They had hooks and trees everywhere. I was so happy about that I was grinning like an idiot.

And it just got better and better after that. The wait staff was excellent, really first-rate. Our waitress was friendly without being smarmy, attentive without wearing out her welcome. When a water glass was half-empty, it got filled, and when one of us pushed an empty dish to the side, it disappeared. We were happy to tip these guys heavily.

Usually when we go out, we order different meals so we can try each other’s food, but tonight we both wanted exactly the same thing. Well, except for the drinks. B started off with a cocktail of bubbly wine mixed with peach juice, while I enjoyed a pint of Ballistic, a seasonal IPA from Ale Asylum. We both ordered the Tuscan white bean soup for starters. It seemed to be more of a stew to me (B called it “hearty”) but I like stew quite a lot and it was yummy. We both cleaned our plates.

For the main course, we both ordered the spaghetti. The waitress brought us each a haystack of spaghetti, dripping in meat sauce. We tried as hard as we could, but after munching away at it for the better part of a half-hour neither one of us appeared to have made much of a dent. Wanting to avoid the sleepless night that would follow if I ate too much, I asked the waitress to box up my remainder, and so did B.

Which left us room for dessert. B asked for tiramisu and I went for the flour-free chocolate cake. I had no clue what a flour-free chocolate cake was. I mean to say, if you leave out the flour, what do you have left? The answer is: Pudding. It’s a little glob of highly-concentrated chocolate pudding, served in one of those teensy cups you get when you order espresso, with a big dollop of whipped cream on the top and a slice of biscotti on the side. I scooped off the whipped cream and dug in. Oh. Yum.

Just one more thing: Don’t go to Lombardino’s without taking time out for a trip to the men’s room, and here I’m obviously talking to just the guys. Ladies, you’re not missing anything, but guys, if you don’t make a trip to the head you’re missing some awesome classic cheesecake. I think they’ve got a photo of every Italian movie starlet in there: Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, Brigit Bardot, you name it, they’re all there, and every one of them posing in her underwear. I had no idea movie starlets were so scandalous back then! Okay, I did.

Time for Din-Din! | 9:36 pm CST
Category: festivals, food & drink, Madison Restaurant Week, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants | Tags:
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