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Photo by Adam Ryan Morris. We’ve made it through the political season, or, as the president has called it, “the silly season” (though his party wasn’t laughing after November’s midterm election). Now we can move on to more, ahem, serious times – the holiday season.  With the holidays, of course, comes good food. As a […]


Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.


We’ve made it through the political season,
or, as the president has called it, “the silly season” (though his party wasn’t laughing after November’s midterm election). Now we can move on to more, ahem, serious times – the holiday season. 

With the holidays, of course, comes good food. As a reader service for this month’s cover story, dining critic Ann Christenson picks the very best new restaurants in metro Milwaukee (Page 34). Many have sprung up in the city’s Bay View and Walker’s Point neighborhoods, reflecting a trend of creative risk-taking that Christenson finds refreshing. 

“Our city’s mix of respect for the past and cautious acceptance of change shows in the newest crop of restaurants,” she says. “They reflect a more sophisticated, knowledgeable and adventurous diner – not things that Milwaukee is necessarily known for. It’s probably a sign of the times, but the majority of places, even the ‘fancier’ ones, are the antithesis of stuffy. There’s a brashness to places like Ardent and Goodkind.”

Christenson is a writer of many talents. Her portrayal of a fine meal can take you to the brink of culinary ecstasy before even lifting a fork. Her nimble descriptions of a restaurant can make you yearn for a plate-filled four-top with good friends. Here’s how she describes the new East Side eatery, the Love Handle: “The Handle people don’t keep their love to themselves… Master sandwich man Chris Benedyk finds compelling ways to work an egg yolk into a dish, such as the white potato-bok choy soup topped with a runny circle of sunshine.” 

Another talented writer, freelancer Tom Matthews, tells a fascinating tale about Jack Douglas, a record producer with Wisconsin ties who befriended John Lennon and Yoko Ono in New York City. In “(Just Like) Starting Over” (Page 44) – taken from a Lennon song on the album Double Fantasy – Matthews depicts Douglas’ skyrocketing rise to fame as producer of rock stars like Cheap Trick, Aerosmith and The Who, before crashing to earth after Lennon’s murder in December 1980. Remarkably, and tragically, Douglas was in the recording studio with Lennon just hours before his death. Like many powerful narratives, it’s a story of personal loss and redemption. 

To cap off our political coverage this year, we focus on U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Page 54). Yeah, we’re all a little tired of politics. But Associate Editor Matt Hrodey turns in a revealing non-political profile of the first-term senator in her Washington, D.C., environs. Baldwin, the first open lesbian in the history of the Senate, has self-identified as a Madison liberal since she entered politics in 1992 as a Wisconsin legislator. Yet she gets high marks from her congressional colleagues for her even-keeled style. 

Baldwin’s accommodating personality shines through in the profile: “Asked to describe her,” Hrodey writes, “Democratic colleagues drizzle their comments with descriptors like calm, level-headed, soft-spoken and principled.” Words seldom used these days in the take-no-prisoners world of politics.

Here’s to a level-headed New Year. 

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