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The Foodie Column

B&D's second downtown location opens

Nothing quite breaks the pattern of holiday gluttony like a burger, and there’s a new place to try. Locally owned B&D Burgers opened its newest location on Congress Street a couple of weeks ago, right up against the southern border of restaurant–filled City Market.

The former PressWorks location was gutted and got a complete facelift: Big bar downstairs, another bar and more seating upstairs and a huge outdoor area with covered and heated seating, big screen TVs and a stage. It’s a well–conceived design and adds another 140 seats or so to the downtown restaurant scene.

The food is B&D’s menu that has been dialed in for consistency for several years. My grilled chicken sandwich with Cajun seasoning was hot and flavorful, although the portion looked kinda small in that big bun. I chose baked beans — smoky and sweet — but could have opted for B&D’s hand cut fries or vinegar–based coleslaw. There’s a good beer list, and some unusual import and small producer selections.

The Broughton Street location closes well before midnight, but this new location is open ‘til 1 a.m. weeknights and 2 a.m. Thursday–Saturday.

209 W. Congress St./238–8315

It’s more than pretty lights

The inaugural Festival of Lights on Hutchinson Island opened last weekend. More than 60 large illuminated and animated light displays ring in the holiday season from the comfort of your car. But the event offers way more than twinkle and flash.

Special weekend events will feature food, family–friendly activities and entertainment. On Dec. 8, The Whiskey Barrel will be open with a craft beer tasting of more than 75 labels and a whiskey tasting featuring more than 20 brands. As part of the day I will lead three tasting mini–seminars on American whiskies, Single Malt Scotch and what I’m calling Beer School 101 — a tasting to familiarize newbies on different styles of beers.

Ticket sales and all the info are on or

I’ve got a beef

I cringe when I see “Wagyu beef” on a menu — there’s no guarantee that this overpriced meat will be any better than a feed lot ribeye from a monolithic Texas cattleman. Wagyu, literally “Japanese cow,” refers to several breeds of cattle. In the U.S., these Japanese breeds are often cross-bred with our old friend the Angus. And although Japan welcomes many of our exports, it will not allow import U.S. Wagyu. Telling point, eh?

I recently sampled Wagyu that was touted as grass–fed. Turns out, it’s grass–fed in Florida, then trucked to Wisconsin for “finishing.” What does it eat there? I got a blank stare and the guy turned his back on me.

Bottom line: Sort out menu descriptors and get to the basics of what you’re ordering. Want to know more about why just throwing a cow into a grassy pasture isn’t enough to insure a great steak?

Read Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef, by Mark Schatzker. The Slate columnist digs into the science behind bovine genetics and even the terroir of grass as he travels the world looking for the best steak.