All about MadisonEat This!, Section 4A Thursday, March 17th, 2016
Madison’s beauty is more than skin deep. From the street, Madison on Park presents itself as a sophisticated but approachable upscale bar – a sleek white counter top, bottles displayed against a tall wall of glass and mirror, large comfortable booths, eye-catching intricate wood inlay and taut ropes like guitar strings strung at rakish angles separating spaces. Madison’s inner beauty is revealed at the end of a long wood lathe walkway providing peek-a-boo views into Park & Rec’s adjacent patio. Inside, a soaring vaulted ceiling is revealed creating an airy indoor-outdoor aesthetic with wood and more wood everywhere; the walls, the floors, the tables and chairs. In short, a gorgeous inviting space with a contemporary casual vibe. “Wow” was all “Pierce” could say after we were seated.
Sarah, our extremely capable and delightful server, greeted us and introduced the menus. Madison features Mediterranean-inspired cuisine infused with West Coast sensibility. Every selection on the judicious and diverse menu is carefully prepared using only the freshest ingredients.
We caught up while lingering over craft cocktails. Pierce, looking sharp in his ripped jeans, tight crew neck T-shirt and cowl shawled cardigan, sipped the Vieux from Above ($9), while I savored the From Sea to Sea ($9). The Vieux is a complex well-balanced blend of darkly sweet Rittenhouse rye whiskey, Cynar (an artichoke based bittersweet liqueur), spicy Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and fresh-squeezed lemon juice served on the rocks. Think sweet tea with a kick. Sea to Sea combines Pisco Portón (a white spirit distilled from Peruvian grapes), with golden-hued Gifford peach liqueur, anise flavored absinthe and fresh lime juice for a consummate sweet/tart and completely satisfying concoction.
Gossip was shared as were the appetizers, Mac & Cheese ($11.50) and Tuna Tartare ($12). The hearty portion of housemade shell pasta tossed in a delicate white cheddar béchamel sauce with diced potatoes and lump crab meat, is topped by crunchy onion strings and is rib-sticking delicious. Tender fresh tuna is minced with red bell pepper served atop thin avocado slices, the entire affair wrapped in ribbons of cucumber. A shrimp tempura crown, mixed micro-greens, sprinkles of toasted sesame seeds and dabs of sour crème fraîche complete the presentation. So light and exquisite.
Our entrées arrived steamy hot from the kitchen. Pierce sang the praises of his thick succulent 12 oz. Duroc Pork Chop ($19) served with smokey grilled endive, asparagus spears and broccoli rabe, all laced by a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette reduction. The generous serving of handmade Gnocchi and Shrimp ($18) is prepared in a rich buttery truffle cream sauce with chopped chives and corn niblets, then garnished with endive leaves. Although the selection was velvety and delectable, the few scant “jumbo” shrimp hidden among the small dumplings were overcooked and tough.
We saved room for dessert and shared a slice of Red Berry Mascarpone cake ($9). The vanilla sponge cake has an exquisite crumb and is served with fresh blueberries, raspberry purée and mascarpone mousse on a plate dusted with powdered sugar. A perfect note to finish a wonderful meal.
Madison on Park is the creation of managing partners Jeffrey Fink (M-Theory Music, FLUXX Nightclub) and Matthew Sieve (Isabel Cruz Hospitality). The menu is designed by Chef Mario Cassineri (BiCE Ristorante, Buona Forchetta) while the bar is helmed by Danny Kuehner (Blue Point, Single Fin). Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
4622 Park Blvd.
Bar: 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
Restaurant: 5:30-10 p.m.
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