19 February 2012

Dinner for 1 at Blue Marlin, Madison

If my wife had been with me, I don’t think I would have eaten at Blue Marlin in Madison, WI when I was there earlier in February. You see, when I walked in the door, I was the only patron in the restaurant.

Now, that didn’t put me off. When I’m traveling for business, I always eat alone. I use the time to think and plan. But it was kind of unusual to be the only diner in the restaurant. And Linda definitely wants a more social atmosphere when we pick a restaurant.

I picked the Blue Marlin because a few years ago, when Linda came along with me on a business trip to Madison, we walked by and the lunch menu looked interesting. I actually don’t remember if we had lunch there. But it made my list of places to stop back and try again.

So I walked in, and they gave me a good table. (Duh.) I had already previewed the menu online, so I kind of knew what I wanted.

I started with the crab curry soup. I had checked the online reviews, and several diners had recommended it. Well, just as I started my soup, Diner No. 2 came in the door. So, now there were two of us. Naturally, they gave him a good table … right next to mine.

Like I said, when I’m on business travel, I’m used to eating alone. But here I am, sitting in a nice restaurant, and there’s one other diner in the place. How can I not acknowledge him and say hello? So quite contrary to my inclination, we strike up a conversation. He’s from Florida. First time in Madison. We have a nice chat.

After a little while, my meal arrived. I had salt baked salmon with Israeli couscous, mushrooms and brown butter, and caramelized fennel with cauliflower. It was delicious. I’ve always been intrigued by salt-crusted fish. I expected that it would be quite salty. But it really wasn’t. It was deliciously moist and tender.

The other diner ordered the grilled blue marlin (the restaurant’s namesake, as he explained). I was intrigued by the dish as well. But the primary side was beet risotto, and I’m not a big fan of beets. So I went with the salmon that I’ve already described.

Neither one of us ordered dessert. We left at the same time. No one else had arrived while we were eating. I made a comment to our server about the paucity of diners. He attributed it to mid-week dining in the middle of winter. I hope that was the best explanation. I really liked the restaurant. Next time in in Madison with my wife, I’d definitely consider going there … as long as it’s still in business.

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