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wattacetti

Madre

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Madre

2931 Masson

514-315-7932

http://www.restaurantmadre.com

So, Raza's Mario Navarette Jr. has fired up a second restaurant in Rosemont(!) of all areas.

Going to a place right at startup is just asking for a night of hiccups, but after yet another interminable session in southern NJ, I figured it would at least be a different way to help forget my time in that chain restaurant wasteland. I was curious to see how Navarette would differentiate this establishment from Raza, and (bonus!) I also got to meet Chef Roberto Neira. Anyway…

Raza: long and narrow space on Laurier offering Nuevo Latino cuisine, seats about 24

Madre: long and narrow space on Masson offering Nuevo Latino cuisine, seats about 24 :huh:

That seemed familiar.

Madre however is not a "Raza lite". The room actually has a color in the form of a chocolate accent wall, there's real wall art, and a variety of architectural elements make the room considerably warmer than Raza's expanse of white. THE important item Madre has that Raza doesn't: available parking. I think it's no secret that parking on Laurier can be a real b*tch on some nights but it was really easy to find open spots on Masson and the surrounding streets.

Madre's inaugural menu consists of four starters, four mains and three desserts, and a daily three-course prix-fixe option for those who don't want to choose. Couple of familiar elements, couple of new ones; I expect that this menu is going to get tweaked over the coming weeks and months, but this is part of what I picked for the evening:

Plaintain buns.

I really liked these.

gallery_10423_4876_8189.jpg

Avocado soup.

I made the mistake of starting to taste the components of this cold soup individually, as it's really better as a whole.

After watching that unfortunate episode of Top Chef where cheftestant Micah made one later described in judging as a "pudding", I was a bit hesitant to try this one. However, the Madre version turned out to be a very supple-textured liquid with a mild avocado taste that I thought needed some acidity. The tomato confit and cucumber salsa on the other hand was all soft and crisp texture and very acid.

Live and learn: guess all that time in New Jersey is making me slow. The soup was much better when the two components were mixed together. I also liked the slight bitterness from the sprouts, but for my personal taste the crême fraiche didn't add a whole lot outside of the visual.

gallery_10423_4876_353.jpg

Ceviche.

On paper, this looked like one of those familiar elements. Raza's tiradito is a very delicate presentation served with a shot glass of leche de tigre for a bit of zip.

Madre's ceviche is a muscular plate of lime-marinated striped bass with rocoto chile, onions and cancha. No little cubes like my Peruvian cookbook shows; the slices of fish are more "cooked through" than the tiradito variant and have a very vibrant taste. Good dish.

gallery_10423_4876_42758.jpg

Duck leg confit with coriander and beer risotto.

(sorry, no photo)

When I saw duck confit on the menu, the first thing that came to mind was "bistro staple", but this one wasn't served with a mâche salad and gizzards. I received a duck leg (Pékin?) atop a verdant risotto. Yep. Deep green. The risotto had noticeable coriander, Parmesan and pea flavors but I didn't pick up any of the slight bitterness I would have expected from using beer. One interesting addition was the presence of a pickled baby carrot, which helped cut a bit of the richness of this dish.

I'm happy that Montreal cooled down today because this dish would have been too heavy if the temperature was as high as it was earlier this week.

Pineapple "surprise".

I've had this one before at Raza, but I was informed that its new (and only) home will be Madre. Tonight's version was less sweet than the previous iteration.

gallery_10423_4876_24097.jpg

Wines: the list is still being developed. I had a very serviceable 2003 Ravenswood Icon Syrah with dinner but until the list is established, probably best to have sommelier Mathieu Guillemette run through his available bottles.

Service: very good for a place that's just opened. Some of the team is transplanted from Raza so it wasn't a green team working FOH.

So would I go again? Yes. It's going to be a nice addition to my list of eateries, and I'm curious to see how this new venture fleshes itself out.

edited for typos; one should not write at 2:00a in the morning


Edited by wattacetti (log)

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I was there the same night, and was really wowed by the food - every time I look at those photos, I'm ready to head back for another dinner. And now that there's a new guest chef announced for next week, I think I will!

I wonder if it's gotten busier since opening - hopefully it has...

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Am a bit piqued at my timing for meals.

I did get a chance to meet Neira, but it looks like I'll miss René Rodriguez too. Remember him from watching all those episodes of "Cook Like a Chef" while on the road and it would have been fun to meet him and try his food. At least The Black Cat is less of a trek that WichCraft/NY.

Curious to see how this is all going to influence the development of the Madre menu: Navarette's Peruvian, Neira's Chilean and Rodriguez is a Canuck raised in Mexico.

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