PaperCity Magazine

November 2019- Houston

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 101 of 115

100 EATING O ne of the city's most anticipated restaurant openings this year was MAD, the wildly imaginative tapas- centric eatery that opened in River Oaks District with a six-week wait list. Partners Ignacio Torras and chef Luis Roger are much acclaimed for their first Spanish restaurant in Houston, the intimate BCN Taste & Tradition in the Montrose (an innovative interpretation of the fare of Barcelona), which translates authentic Spanish ingredients into thoughtfully crafted dishes that simply astound. Two years in the making, MAD — named, like BCN, for the airport code of the city that inspired it, Madrid — was part of the grand plan when this duo conceived BCN. Meticulous planning and recipe testing have yielded a 6,000-square-foot space conjured by Barcelona-based designer Lázaro Rosa-Violán — one that has your eyes dancing about a room awash in hues of salmon, midnight blue, and red to land on one bright shiny object after another. Velvet curtains at the entrance part to reveal a 360-degree mirrored bar and a massive Brutalist-inspired relief above the open paella kitchen. Dinner, late-night bites, and Sunday brunch are served in the 122-seat dining room. Secure a table or a seat at the bar or out on the patio, and tiptoe through the lengthy menu. Offerings include traditional Spanish Ibérico ham served with imported Pan de Cristal flatbread and tomato ($25) and Gulas, purple potato chips topped with sautéed baby eels crowned with a fried quail egg sunny side up ($16). Don't miss Roger's sophisticated, modern spin on tapas, where he takes the art of trompe l'oeil to new culinary heights. He amuses the palate with olivas líquidas, green-colored cocoa-butter orbs resembling manzanilla olives poised on a real olive branch, each "olive" built around a frozen round of olive juice that melts on your tongue, releasing the saline-tinged liquid ($12). Or, try my favorite, the cucurucho de foie, a tiny crisp cone topped with foie gras mousseline and garnished with nonpareil sprinkles ($6). You can tell Roger is having a ball in the kitchen when he takes on a comfort food classic like mac n' cheese and elevates it with room-temperature penne made with a pork-based gelatin to create a translucent noodle warmed only by a topping of parmesan foam applied tableside ($16). His MAD tomato is a bright red replica of the real deal cloaked in a thin, gelatinous peel and filled with parmesan mousse and pesto, atop a bed of pumpernickel bread crumbs ($15). After meandering through the inventive tapas and gin-soaked cocktails, move on to something more substantial, such as the arroz a la leña. Four wood- roasted rice selections are available in two- or four-person portions. The rape option for two is a mélange of saffron- tinged rice with monkfish, prawns, and spinach ($42). Also offered are grilled beef selections, from 16-ounce Iberico de Bellota skirt steak with shishito peppers ($78) to a mighty bone-in rib-eye steak with piquillo peppers ($170). MAD's signature dessert is fresa wannabe, a "Meyer lemon" that's actually a white-chocolate shell colored yellow, filled with strawberry mousse and lemon-mint compote that a crack releases onto the plate ($14). Reservations required. MAD, River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer Road, 281.888.2770, IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD BY LAURANN CLARIDGE Trompe l'oeil olives filled with olive juice that melt on your tongue Photography Julie Soefer

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - November 2019- Houston