Who would have thought that Middleton, that cozy west-side enclave, home to a modest 17,400 souls, would have even shown up on the national charts, much less been recognized by Money magazine as number one on its list of best places to live? The Good Neighbor City won its laurels on the basis of good schools, low crime, open spaces and, among other things, "the number-one-rated brewery in America," Capital Brewery. What more could you want? How about a bite to eat?
We're happy for the folks in Middleton, with their heady rating on the quality-of-life index. And we're happy for ourselves, too, as story planners. The flowering of Middleton over the last decade, as the greater Madison area pushed out in all directions, caught our eye awhile back. It has steadily solidified as a western hub of the expansion, and its attractions, especially culinary, have proliferated.
Dining spots have been busting out all over the metro area (see Kenneth Burns' Food and Drink News in this issue for reports on three more), but the concentration in Middleton is surpassed only by the accumulation of eating spots in downtown Madison. So when Money annointed Middleton, we already had Tom Laskin's cover contribution in the oven, so to speak.
"The Yin and Yang of Middleton Dining" is not a survey article, nor is it merely a composite review of assorted eateries. It asks a philosophical question about the qualitative differences between Middleton dining old and new. Does the research stand up to the hypothesis? Read Professor Laskin's monograph on the topic.
And since we're exploring local institutions, how can we ignore one of the most prominent when it reaches a milestone like 100 years? The Wisconsin Union, truly a unique invention, celebrates that mark this year. Jay Rath memorializes the achievement in "Students at Play," our arts feature. There is nothing quite like the Wisconsin Memorial Union in the country. It integrates town and gown to an unequaled degree, but how many of us really know how it came to be and how it runs? Many more will after this week. And what better excuse to hoist a pint on the Terrace than the 100th birthday of everybody's favorite adult playground? See you at sunset.