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Madison needs more seasoning

University Heights restaurant still finding its way

Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Place

Madison

4622 Park Boulevard, San Diego

In recent years, Little Italy and North Park have become a dining destination. East Village is trying.

University Heights seems to be the next big area with the addition last year of Park & Rec and the recent opening of Madison to a Park Boulevard lineup that includes Small Bar and El Zarape, among others.

Madison
Umbrella Cocktail
Baby Beet Salad
Rye Emmentaler
Madison on the inside

Madison opened about two months ago in a space that previously housed Lei Lounge. The restaurant’s bar is in the front, and dining is in the back in a barn-shaped structure with an open-air feel. Heat lamps are needed at this time of year.

It’s a nice setting, but right now Madison is feeling its way and seems more like a bar with a restaurant than a restaurant with a bar. That’s because the cocktails are the signature items, especially the Umbrella ($9), a refreshing beverage with green chile vodka and cucumber. The drink is cool and refreshing. The Vieux From Above ($9) with rye whiskey, Cynar, and Ancho Reyes chile liqueur is much stronger, making it a good drink for long-term sipping. Both are a reason to return.

Food-wise, Madison has potential, but isn’t a destination dining place yet. The gnocchi with jumbo shrimp, corn, endive, and truffle cream sauce ($18) was decent, but a little heat would have helped. A better bet is the Baby Beet Salad ($12), a decent-sized portion of beets with spinach, asparagus, lentils, burrata cheese, and balsamic drizzle.

The sesame-crusted pork tenderloin with mushrooms and roasted tomatoes ($19) looks great and it is — if you eat everything in the same bite. If you eat your items separately, the pork lacks some seasoning. The same fate befell the Rye Emmentaler ($13), an upscale grilled cheese sandwich. Although it’s served with onion jam, zucchini, and mint as well as a honey bell pepper sauce on the side, it too lacked seasoning.

I was a fan of the gravlax, a citrus and beet-marinated salmon sliced very thin ($11). It had much of the flavor missing on the other items but gave me hope for the day if and when Madison serves a brunch. My wife summed it up best. “I’d come back for the drinks, and I’d be interested to see what they did for brunch.”

I’d be inclined to give it another try if I still lived in University Heights, but to me it’s not worth a drive from anywhere else. Well, maybe for another Umbrella.

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Comments
1

I'll just say that this is my new favorite bar. I walk down the street weekly to go try a new cocktail and some kind of food. I've never had anything but an amazing experience and haven't noticed any lack of seasoning. Keep doing what you do, guys.

March 2, 2016

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Ahi Tuna Tartare
Ahi Tuna Tartare
Place

Madison

4622 Park Boulevard, San Diego

In recent years, Little Italy and North Park have become a dining destination. East Village is trying.

University Heights seems to be the next big area with the addition last year of Park & Rec and the recent opening of Madison to a Park Boulevard lineup that includes Small Bar and El Zarape, among others.

Madison
Umbrella Cocktail
Baby Beet Salad
Rye Emmentaler
Madison on the inside

Madison opened about two months ago in a space that previously housed Lei Lounge. The restaurant’s bar is in the front, and dining is in the back in a barn-shaped structure with an open-air feel. Heat lamps are needed at this time of year.

It’s a nice setting, but right now Madison is feeling its way and seems more like a bar with a restaurant than a restaurant with a bar. That’s because the cocktails are the signature items, especially the Umbrella ($9), a refreshing beverage with green chile vodka and cucumber. The drink is cool and refreshing. The Vieux From Above ($9) with rye whiskey, Cynar, and Ancho Reyes chile liqueur is much stronger, making it a good drink for long-term sipping. Both are a reason to return.

Food-wise, Madison has potential, but isn’t a destination dining place yet. The gnocchi with jumbo shrimp, corn, endive, and truffle cream sauce ($18) was decent, but a little heat would have helped. A better bet is the Baby Beet Salad ($12), a decent-sized portion of beets with spinach, asparagus, lentils, burrata cheese, and balsamic drizzle.

The sesame-crusted pork tenderloin with mushrooms and roasted tomatoes ($19) looks great and it is — if you eat everything in the same bite. If you eat your items separately, the pork lacks some seasoning. The same fate befell the Rye Emmentaler ($13), an upscale grilled cheese sandwich. Although it’s served with onion jam, zucchini, and mint as well as a honey bell pepper sauce on the side, it too lacked seasoning.

I was a fan of the gravlax, a citrus and beet-marinated salmon sliced very thin ($11). It had much of the flavor missing on the other items but gave me hope for the day if and when Madison serves a brunch. My wife summed it up best. “I’d come back for the drinks, and I’d be interested to see what they did for brunch.”

I’d be inclined to give it another try if I still lived in University Heights, but to me it’s not worth a drive from anywhere else. Well, maybe for another Umbrella.

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Comments
1

I'll just say that this is my new favorite bar. I walk down the street weekly to go try a new cocktail and some kind of food. I've never had anything but an amazing experience and haven't noticed any lack of seasoning. Keep doing what you do, guys.

March 2, 2016

Sign in to comment

Sign in

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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