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Wednesday, October 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 49.0° F  Overcast
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A few of our favorite Madison eats of 2006

Night after night, at restaurants all over town, the exchange is surely the same: "What'll ya have, hon?" "The regular." Although culinary adventurousness has infinite rewards, sometimes we just want to eat the dish we usually eat, because it is the best dish.

But if the regular is getting stale, here are some suggestions for your new regular: Culled from the past year's Isthmus food writing, these are the dishes our dining scribes loved the most at eateries in and around the city. Bon appétit!

Here are 21 of our favorite dishes, in alphabetical order.

Baumgartner's Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe -- Limburger cheese sandwich
Don't bother asking for lettuce and tomato. They don't have them. And guess what? The sandwich doesn't need them. Served only with a slice of onion on soft dark rye, it is absolutely delicious. (Sarah Minasian)

Bunky's Café -- Puttanesca pasta
Served in a large portion with sauce that is a fantastic combination of contrasting flavors: Acidic tomatoes, spicy crushed red peppers, salty anchovies and kalamata olives. (Sarah Marx Feldner)

The Casbah Restaurant and Lounge -- Beef shish kebab
The secret is the beef tenderloin. It's extraordinarily tender and bears the taste of the grill. It comes wrapped in a round of lightly grilled bread that's also stuffed with grilled onions and freshly chopped tomato. A beef-eater's dream. (Tom Laskin)

Caspian Café -- Kuku sabzi
A supernal soufflé of eggs, spinach, parsley, cilantro and walnuts layered between fresh-baked flat bread and dressed with feta, onions and tomatoes. The soufflé itself -- crisped around the edges, textured by the walnuts -- is so good that I usually just eat it unadorned on one slab of the flat bread. (Raphael Kadushin)

Cocoliquot -- Braised short ribs
Framed by velvety smoked potato purée, the whole dish comes delicately flavored by bacon, mushrooms and pearl onions. (Raphael Kadushin)

Coreana -- Chicken bulgogi
The strips of tender and juicy chicken, marinated in a sweet but understated soy sauce, come tossed with onions, green peppers, and mushrooms; the whole things sizzles on its plate and is instantly satisfying. (Raphael Kadushin)

Dobhan -- Mediterranean flat bread plate
Features triangles of hot flat bread paired with scoops of perfect hummus (delicate and spared too much garlic), a carrot terche and a red pepper walnut paste that you'll keep eating, without stopping for a second, until it's gone. (Raphael Kadushin

Ella's Deli -- Sweet-and-sour cabbage soup Slightly on the sweet side, a clear broth with morsels of beef swimming in the cabbage shreds. All in all, a delight. (Jerry Minnich)

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar -- Tuna mignon
A sushi-grade filet of tuna, fully three inches high, served rare with a poppy seed, pepper and tomato sherry vinaigrette. You've got to like raw tuna for this one, folks, but it is simply spectacular. (Jerry Minnich)

Fresco -- Gnocchi
Surprisingly big, they have a perfect, pillowy bite and pick up layers of subtle flavors from shiitake mushrooms, brown herb butter, shaved Parmesan and sautéed asparagus tips and carrots. (Raphael Kadushin)

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. -- Chicken pot pie
Excellent, with a golden puffy pastry crust and well stocked with chunky white meat. It was served with a wonderful, homemade hot applesauce and the Dane's famous beer bread, dark, dense and slightly sweet. (Jerry Minnich)

La Rocca's -- Pasta al forno Bucatini -- thick-cut spaghetti with a thin, hollow center -- baked together with ground beef and cheese, then sliced like a pie and smothered with marinara. Definitely Italian comfort food. (Sarah Marx Feldner)

Market Street Diner -- Madras vegetable big bowl
Featuring summer squash, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers with spinach and chickpeas in a curry coconut sauce, topped with crispy wonton strips that played nicely against the spirited curried vegetables. (Jerry Minnich)

The Old-Fashioned -- Baked potato Slathered with sour cream and a nest of matchstick fries, just to make sure you get your double order of starch. The nice thing about going old-fashioned is that none of this demands any apology. In Wisconsin tradition, a baked potato that doesn't come piled with butter and sour cream is one pretentious, empty vessel. (Raphael Kadushin)

The Old Feed Mill, Mazomanie -- Pot roast
Ever-so-slowly cooked beef yields easily to the fork. Unsullied by seasonings but graced by dark, rich brown pan gravy, this is indeed a pot roast for the gods. (Jerry Minnich)

Original Pancake House -- Crepes
The Kijafa cherry crepes are tantalizingly sour, while the enormous and tasty spinach crepe comes with potato pancakes that will have you thinking of the old country, whatever country that is. (Kenneth Burns)

P.F. Chang's -- Wok-seared lamb
The lamb strips, marinated in sesame sauce, were tender and served simply, with cilantro, over a bed of crisp chopped lettuce. The effect was rousing. (Raphael Kadushin)

Peppino's -- Gamberi Savoia
Jumbo shrimp sautéed in olive oil with button mushrooms, garlic and sliced scallions, served with a citrus and white wine sauce, flavorful and delicate, that was perfectly suited to the plump, fresh shrimp. Accompanied by fresh asparagus spears, bok choi and roasted red peppers. (Jerry Minnich)

Rossario's -- Pasta marinara
Robust and perfectly balanced, not overly sweet. (Jerry Minnich)

Sardine -- Duck confit salad
Stupefyingly good. Seamlessly layers flavors and textures. The smoky strips of duck play off the crunch of crisped potatoes and snapping green beans, and off the silkier cap of a poached egg, its buttery yolk mixing with the bright, citrusy vinaigrette dressing. (Raphael Kadushin)

Weary Traveler -- West of the Andes beef tenderloin sandwich
Fresh pico de gallo and chipotle mayonnaise wake up the tongue and give the sandwich both a fresh, clean taste and a slow-burning spiciness. They also wake up the buttery tenderloin. The capper is a slice of ripe avocado that draws the flavor together and adds smooth, pleasant textures to each bite. (Tom Laskin)

More reviews, Madison eating news, and other food and drink tidbits can be found at Isthmus Eats, including a listing of restaurant locations, cuisines, and hours.

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