I had a fairly lackluster experience at Mado about six months ago. I had heard nothing but praise and was disappointed that it didn’t live up to my expectations. I felt a little guilty writing it off, because I know restaurants (and patrons) can have off nights. Recently groupon offered a $20 for $40 coupon, so I found myself at Mado once again, determined to give it another shot.

It’s easy to get drunk on power when you go out to eat, as the following pictures demonstrate:

pig’s tongue

The tongue was an understated cold preparation with a spicy vinegarette, letting the dish speak for itself (sometimes I make myself laugh). I’ve had lengua tacos before, but this is my new standard for tongue dishes.

farm egg bruschetta

This was probably not the best dish to split, as the yolk did not divide in half evenly. The bread was great – soft, warm and crusty, and the egg was, well, a fried egg. I eat variation of this for breakfast several times a week, and while this was certainly good, it was rather tame.

cornbread with lardo

This cornbread was what I always wanted cornbread to be: crumbly, tender, a little sweet; I try and fail to make cornbread like this at home. The lardo was a nice touch, but I wish it would have melted a little better over the cornbread.

pork belly with braised kale

Can I ever not order pork belly? Surprisingly, this was the most ho-hum dish of the evening for me. The pork belly was well-prepared: very tender, fatty and with a crisp skin-side, and the kale was among the better kale preparations I’ve had, but overall the dish didn’t do a lot for me.

chocolate coconut flan

Oh my. This was really something else: creamy, smooth coconut flan with a chocolate filling topped with cocoa nibs. My friend left the table to talk to the chef, leaving me alone with the flan. I left him one bite.

dates with coffee and ricotta

The pairing of sugary dates with bitter coffee is an intriguing one, but it didn’t quit pan out like I had imagined. The coffee flavor was very pronounced and drowned out the sweetness of the dates to the point where it didn’t feel balanced. That said, I do applaud the restaurant for taking chances with desserts. Better than seeing another flourless chocolate molten lava explosion cake on the menu.

I now understand people’s allegiance to Mado. It’s honest, no-frills, ingredient-driven cuisine prepared in a comfortable setting. If I lived in the area, it would be hard for me to go anywhere else.

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