Sometimes you develop irrational affection for a place and it becomes dear to you beyond its qualities. It could have a really convenient location, or be the only place you can get x thing even if they don’t do x thing well, or possibly they have particularly attractive employees.
Then there’s the place that’s so awesome there’s a guy strumming a square base on the patio just cuz, your baseline for thing x gets defined as “It’s competent if it’s 50% as good as here,” and you’ll drive clear across town on a weekly basis to go. I have just such a place and it is Jade Mountain Cafe.
I go for their bubble tea and their pot stickers, and I go every Thursday. Sometimes I go on Wednesday too. Or Friday. Or Sunday. Those “ors” could accurately be read as “ands.” They’re not actually as far away from my house as you can get while still being in Madison, but they do a decent impression of it. I go anyway. The tapioca beads they put in their tea aren’t just cooked correctly, with the right texture and density, they’re cooked superbly. I think they cheat and use honey. I’m totally down with cheating.
Let me give you some perspective so you can see what a big deal this is. A year ago, I did not like tea. At all. But I loved fruit smoothies with tapoica beads, and was in severe withdrawal after developing an addiction in Chicago because nowhere in Madison did them well. Then Jade Mountain opened, and while they didn’t do fruit smoothies, they cooked their tapioca so well that their tea smoothies were good enough.
Now I drink tea.
I’m not yet a refined, take my black tea black tea drinker, but tea no longer tastes like funky water. I have an actual pallet. I almost enjoy it even when it isn’t full of milk and honey and tasty, tasty tapioca. I foresee legitimate tea fondness in my future. That’s how good Jade Mountain is.
I want them to open up a new location on the west side something awful. I may, in fact, have a place within walking distance of my house picked out, if only the coffee shop currently there would go out of business.
Yes, I am obsessed. Yes, I am an addict. But it’s not irrational. They really are that good. And if you live in Madison, or ever come by, you should come see it for yourself.