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The Daily

FOOD AND DRINK

Our favorite eats of 2007
A look at some of the standout dishes around Madison this year

Try the capricciosa pizza at Cafe Porta Alba
Try the capricciosa pizza at Cafe Porta Alba
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In 2007, Isthmus' crack team of food critics again fanned out across the city, and into outlying areas, in order to sample and savor (and sometimes lament) our local restaurateurs' offerings.

Here are the dishes our reviewers liked best this year, from kitchens old and new.

  • Babs' French Quarter Kitchen -- Catfish po'boy
    "Served on a soft baguette. Excellent, the fresh and tender fish coated in cornmeal and served with a spirited aioli." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Brasserie V -- V Burger
    "Topped with Muenster cheese and beer-battered onion straws, one of the few burgers in town that actually holds its shape, and doesn't drop down through its shredded bun, thanks to that sturdy toast." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • Buraka -- Chicken peanut stew
    "Excellent...a comforting blend of chicken and red potatoes in a peanutty gravy. Like all of Buraka's entrees, it can be ordered over rice or served atop injera, the spongy sourdough crepe/pancake/bread." (Linda Falkenstein)

  • Café Costa Rica -- Pork empanada
    "Encased in the traditional half-moon pastry crust. Terrific -- the pulled pork faintly aromatic with spices, the crust flaky and fresh." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Cafe Porta Alba -- Capricciosa pizza
    "A knock-out. The busy fallout of toppings (mushrooms, olives, fresh mozzarella, tomato, parmacotto and artichokes) come strewn sparingly, so that the effect is delicate and understated, and each ingredient has its moment to shine." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • The Dining Room, Monticello -- Pork cutlet entrée
    "The kind of dish you remember months later. Crusted with cornmeal, dressed with a poblano cream sauce, crowned by a sweet pepper tortilla salad and served beside a heap of cheddar grits, the cutlets were a proudly stacked study in anti-minimalist cooking." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • El Pescador -- Salmon filet
    "Perfect -- fresh and flaky, topped with artichokes, portabella mushrooms and a sun-dried tomato sauce, served over rice." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Fork & Spoon Cafe -- Rigatoni Bolognese
    "Made with ground homemade Italian sausage and just enough tomato-cream sauce to coat the pasta and enhance its flavor. Magnificent." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Gray's Tied House -- Hamburger
    "Served in a substantial kaiser bun with lettuce and tomato, a dish each of jalapeño butter and jalapeño slices, and some of the best bar fries I have ever had." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Luckenbooth Restaurant, Arena -- Lorne sausage
    "A double-ground combination of beef and pork, loosely mixed and shaped into a square patty. Peppery and filled with sustenance." (Sarah Minasian)

  • Mad City Crab House -- Pan-seared crab cakes
    "A winner, bursting with fresh crab flavor, golden outside and creamy inside, topped with a sun-dried tomato sauce that compliments the crab without overwhelming it." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Maharani -- Chicken mango
    "Throws its boneless chicken pieces into a gingery, tart mango sauce that flirts with the sweet and the sour, and winds up seamlessly blending the two." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • Maza -- Murgh burani badenja
    "Chicken breast and thigh sautéed to tender perfection with fresh eggplant, cooked with herbs, onion, tomato and garlic, served over white basmati rice." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Mildred's Sandwich Shop -- The Leadbetter
    "A combo of mozzarella, brick, cukes, green pepper, sprouts, onions, lettuce and tomato with mayo and Mildred's dressing on whole-wheat pita, served warm. Simple and satisfying." (Linda Falkenstein)

  • Osteria Papavero -- Ribollita
    "Real cause for celebration, a soup of beans, Tuscan kale and creamy polenta that is Mama-worthy." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • Sushi Muramoto -- Muramoto roll
    "A one-dish party. A medley of tuna, sweet shrimp, squid, sprouts and salmon roe, all wrapped up in bright yellow egg paper." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • Taquería Guadalajara -- Pollo en mole rojo
    "Two chicken thighs with a red mole sauce -- tender and succulent, the mole piquant, not sweet like some." (Jerry Minnich)

  • Taste of India -- Tandoori mixed grill
    "Everything it should be. The big, heaped platter has chicken, shrimp, salmon and minced lamb that stream out of the clay tandoor oven sizzling and spitting juice, and everything on the plate has a delicate, perfumed flavor." (Raphael Kadushin)

  • Tex Tubb's Taco Palace -- Fish tacos
    "Chunks of fleshy achiote tilapia wrapped up in a soft corn tortilla and dressed with a crunchy tangle of pickled red onion and slaw that add just the right pop of texture." (Raphael Kadushin)

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