Third time's a charm, I guess.
We've set reservations for Mado twice since September and both times one of us was sick.
But we finally made it back last night.
The guy that owns this place was the chef of the group that took over the Pottery Barn of a restaurant that I used to work at in Lincoln Square and boy, can the guy cook.
It's farm-to-table, all local products, all made in-house and it's just plain delicious.
This was our fourth time (?) and it was par for the course.
Chartuterie plate of chicken liver paté, country paté and copa with bread, mustard and pickled fennel
Farm Fresh Egg Bruschetta
Braised fennel with saffron aioli
Brandade with grilled bread
Rainbow trout with arugula and pine nuts
Pig's head meatball stew with chickpeas and kale
Pistachio shortbreadish-type cake
Dark chocolate bark
$115 and we were both bursting at the seams. Always a great meal.
Food: 2007 Pingus PSI ($32 - Binny's) and 2005 Királyudvar Tokaji Sec ($20 - Berkeley Wine Co.)
Before with Mado, I think I recommended a lighter red. We did not follow such advice.
The Pingus PSI is the new, third-tier offering from Peter Sisseck, the guy that burst on the scene in 1995 with his cult Ribera del Duero offering, Pingus.
In 1996, Sisseck made 325 cases of Pingus at a release price of $200 a bottle. Parker went nuts over it, calling it "one of the greatest and most exciting wines I've ever tasted." A ship carrying 75 of the cases sank in the Atlantic right around the time Parker released his tasting notes and demand in conjunction with the ship-sinking story went through the roof.
For example, the 2006 was released at $750 a bottle.
It's pretty much the über-cult wine of the last decade or so.
But this is the third-tier wine at a very reasonable $32 while the 2007 is the first offering of this label. The second-tier label, Flor de Pingus, has been made since the beginning and usually runs about $75. We have the 2006 but it still needs some time.
Dark crimson in the glass, wild brush and fruit on the nose, this one got better with a little air pretty quick. All the hallmark flavors of Ribera were there. Sort of wild and bucking, tasted like buttered toast dizzled with blackberry juice and slathered in dirt and tree bark with a wee hint of a creamy vanilla (?) element. A bit tight. Even one year would make it more welcoming. For $32, we'll be buying it again just to see what happens.
The Királyudvar has been covered before here at Food With Wine. It's currently our favorite white wine. So many layers, so versatile with food.
Great floral and mineral background to support its exotic fruit profile, fruits that constantly change and are always in balance. Less lemon this time for me and more something like kiwi mixed with guava mixed with a dash of honey. Still some great orange overtones as well.
If you can find it, get it. Wine Discount Center doesn't have it anymore but Randolph Wine Cellars has it listed on their website.
Pairing: Not great but very good
With the chicken liver paté, the white tasted like a dirty gym sock. And the red wasn't much better.
Overall though, there were highlights. The Pingus PSI pairs almost flawlessly with the pig's head stew and the copa in a weirdly gnarly way. The Királyudvar helped the braised fennel and saffron aioli, the brandade and the trout, though it wasn't spectacular.
Oddly, the egg and bruschetta was quite good with the Pingus. Something about the heavy char on the bread made it work.
On the whole, we were happy, even if nothing made for an experience that was supremely greater than the sum of its parts.
And check that "lighter red" advice at the door. In the winter, the chef gets a bit more comfort foody and things will be fine if you bring it up a bit.
Except for an Australian shiraz. Maybe not that.
In fact, that would be terrible. Or would it?