An ample Dowry

MADISON, Wis. – Even though it stands very little chance of happening, I support the idea of a college football playoff with semifinal games at campus sites because of one glorious possibility. If schools host the games, then there is a chance that some SEC power (Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, you name it) will have to play at Wisconsin.

Southerners and Wisconsin residents need to meet in a football-themed environment, because they would get along famously. The raw materials of their good times differ because their natural resources differ, but their priorities do not. They want to be full and buzzed, and then they want to watch large people on the line of scrimmage slam into one another.

In Wisconsin, they make the following things with love:

  • Cheese
  • Carbs
  • Beer
  • Grilled beef (in patty and cylinder form)

In the South, they make the following things with love:

  • Fattening vegetables
  • Stews
  • Brown liquor
  • Smoked pork

Just imagine the pot-luck supper the RV dwellers could have the night before a clash between the Bagders and Bulldogs, Tigers or Crimson Tide. It might kill everyone in attendance, but they would die happy.

Before the Southerners share their cuisine with the denizens of America’s Dairy Land, they could sample some of the local flavor at Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry. Dotty’s actually started in 1968 as a gift shop in Des Moines, Iowa, but the focus eventually shifted to burgers. Founder Jeff Stanley moved to Madison in 1972, and he brought Dotty’s burgers with him. The place has moved several times, and Stanley thought he’d found a permanent home when he moved to a location on Fairchild Street in 1990. In 2000, the city had other ideas. It used eminent domain to take Dotty’s location for the Overture Center project. Stanley fought longer than his neighbors, earning even more respect in a town with a rebellious streak, but he eventually had to move the place to its current location on Frances Street.

Got that squish?

Like any self-respecting Madison establishment, the beer selection at Dotty’s is thorough and local. Like any self-respecting Madison establishment, the fried cheese curds are excellent. It’s amazing cheese curds haven’t caught on in the rest of the country, considering they’re part of the inspiration for the horrible, fresh-from-the-freezer fried mozzarella sticks available at every casual dining restaurant in the country. A good fried curd is warm inside and out. The cheese inside leans more toward solid than liquid, but remains soft enough to offer a blast of flavor on the first bite. “It’s got to have that squish,” 322-pound Wisconsin offensive guard Ryan Groy told me.

Still, the burgers are the stars at Dotty’s – and with good reason. They are served “medium-pink” unless otherwise specified. Do not specify otherwise. The burgers explode with juice, which immediately gets soaked up by the melted cheese to create a meaty, cheesy, juicy ball of cholesterol rivaled in decadence only by the fried cheese curds or possibly the golden triangles of fried macaroni and cheese.

I ignored the Rolls Royce (Irish cheddar cheese smothered with Belgian ale cream sauce and bacon) and the Gladiator (muenster, bacon, red onion and a black peppercorn mustard-mayo mix) and built my own burger. Mine included cheddar and muenster with mushrooms, bacon and Heart Throb sauce (cream cheese mixed with jalapeno, cilantro and garlic).

My heart did indeed throb. My stomach did not complain.

Pre-meal workout: Six-mile run around the University of Wisconsin campus.


About Andy Staples

Eating anything that doesn't eat me first.
This entry was posted in Bacon, Burgers, Fried Goodness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to An ample Dowry

  1. Wes says:

    Yes, I would love to go to Madison for a game, but I don’t want it to be in a December or January playoff. We played them in bowl games twice while I was in school (03 and 06) and their fans were great. IMO any school in a state that produces interior linemen, cheese, and beer of such quantity and quality should be allowed an honorary SEC membership.

  2. Jeff stanley says:

    Thanks andy next drinks on me. Jeff stanley.

  3. Hog Fan in Africa says:

    wow, didn’t know you had a food blog!! Not cool that I found this though cuz now I’m gonna have to spend a good bit of time reading it and following it. Do you think you could also categorize by college town/location so people can see where the good spots are the week before an away game? Got here from your post spring top 25. How dumb is Petrino. Is there gonna be a big blow-up when he gets hired by Texas or Tennessee in a year or 2?

  4. Joe L. says:

    Madison, Wisconsin is the greatest place in the world.

  5. Hilariously apropos Andy! Next time you’re in town do check out Babcock Hall where you can get 21 flavors of ice cream made right on campus.

  6. theinternationalshoe says:

    Your sentiments could not be any more correct. I was born and raised in Green Bay, WI. Went to college at UGA. My senior year at UGA I tried to tell anyone who would listen that Wisconsin is JUST LIKE THE SOUTH, but with different accents and slightly different food. Nobody believed me…

  7. BuffaloBadger says:

    Used to eat at Dotty’s on Regent often when in grad school in the late 70’s. Great memories of their burgers and fudge bottom pie! Have to go back next time I’m in Madison.

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