by Beth Pickhard
I decided to venture away from my typical restaurant destinations, State Street and the Capitol Square, to an area where I had never dined: Williamson Street. Called Willy Street by Madisonians, the area boasts distinctive dining options that you won’t find on State.
My destination was The Weary Traveler Free House, a pub that serves international fare within a cozy, quirky atmosphere. The delightful chicken dijonnaise with Dijon cream sauce is served with garlic mashed potatoes done right. The mashed potatoes balance the not-too-overpowering garlic flavor, and accompany the chicken well. I sampled the grilled walleye sandwich with fresh greens and Yukon gold potatoes as well. The potatoes and salad dressing have a bit of a kick to them, so I wouldn’t suggest ordering this if you don’t like a little spice. The tartar sauce wasn’t as flavorful as I had anticipated for being paired with walleye, but the piece of walleye was sizable for the meal price ($9.75).
What goes well with a fish sandwich? I elect for a beer, and the Weary Traveler has a fine selection. Eight beers are served on tap, with 19 more bottled choices. Local favorites are of course in the mix – from Capital Brewery’s Seasonal Fest, to Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale. I was surprised to see that the kitchen is open until 1 am, so you can always grab a drink with late night dining.
In addition, there is a good variety of options for vegetarian and vegan diners, from the Mediterranean Plate to Weary’s Tom Ka Tofu coconut lemon grass stew. The grilled cheese sandwich with Wisconsin cheddar and organic mozzarella is a simple menu item, but makes your mouth water nonetheless. Be sure to savor your meal while you take in the funky décor: paintings in various styles, large chess pieces and old instruments tacked on the walls.
Overall, the menu is fairly limited, but two specials are served for dinner. The chef even tweets the specials so you can know what they are in advance. The Weary Traveler also strives to buy their food locally from friends who are independent producers. Many menu items boast local ingredients.
Choose the Weary Traveler if you are looking for a casual dining environment to share a unique meal with friends.
Average cost of an entrée: $10.
The Weary Traveler is located at 1201 Williamson Street. It is open for dining from 11:30 am until 1am Tuesday through Sunday and 4 pm to 1 am on Monday. Drinks served until 2 am. For more information, call 608-442-6207.