April 26, 2007

Worth The Price for Perfection

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All of you loyal readers (thanks guys!) might remember that my parents visited me back in October and took me out to a delicious, but expensive meal, which I subsequently reviewed. Well, lucky for me, they visited again this past weekend and begged me to let them take me out so that they could be featured in another column (I might be exaggerating this point a bit). Of course, I couldn’t say no to such a fabulous offer and so quickly picked a restaurant that was enthusiastically recommended by a highly reliable source. Unfortunately, my busy college life and lack of multiple reminders from my parents caused me to forget to make a reservation ahead of time, and thus when I finally did call the restaurant — about two hours before we wanted to dine — the only available time slot they had was 9:30p.m.
We now found ourselves in a similar predicament as in October; our minds and stomachs were set on a wonderful dinner, but we no longer had a destination and refused to wander around the Commons aimlessly like the last time. My dad, being the problem solver that he is, offered up the restaurants that were near the hotel: Burger King (a definite no) and Olivia’s (already-reviewed). My mom, being the more prudent problem solver that she is, offered up restaurants that were featured in the very small dining guide found in the hotel room. None of those restaurants sounded very appealing and so it was up to me to make a decision. Thinking back on all the previous restaurant experiences I have had in Ithaca, one place stood out in my mind. Wasting no time, I quickly called, made a reservation, and saved the night.
Madeline’s, often called the-place-with-the-yellow-awning, is a Euro-Asian inspired restaurant located on the Commons famous for its large and innovative dessert selection. However, Madeline’s also boasts a wonderful dinner menu and a cozy yet elegant atmosphere. It’s the perfect place for a meal with family and is definitely a great date spot if you don’t mind spending a bit of money.
Surrounded by lovely artwork, I perused the extensive menu, deciding it was necessary to pick an appetizer and an entrée that would not leave me too full to enjoy dessert. After much deliberation I chose the Ultimate Health Salad, which is a mix of fresh mozzarella, tomato, toasted sunflower seeds, various exotic vegetables and baby greens in a sun dried cherry and star anise vinaigrette, and the Duck Two Ways, which featured an Asian five-spice duck confit and a pan-seared duck breast with a cranberry port sauce, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables alongside. Sounds wonderful, right?
My parents followed suit and both ordered salads to start; my mom chose the Ultimate Health Salad as well, while my dad opted for the Arugula Salad with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. For entrees, my mom ordered the Cornish Game Hen, which came with the same side dishes as my entrée, and my dad picked the Sushi Grade Tuna cooked in a spicy soy sauce with Asian noodles and edamame as garnish. Both of their entrees sounded so tasty that I knew I would have to steal a bite or two.
As we waited for our salads, our waitress brought over some rosemary focaccia bread and olive oil, which disappeared in a matter of minutes. Luckily, the salads arrived not long after and we dug in. Now, I know a salad is not the most exciting appetizer to order, but this was the most unique and exciting salad I have ever tried. The vegetables, which included lotus and celery root, jicima, carrot and daikon all provided different flavors and textures and the vinaigrette was wonderfully light and sweet. My mom wholeheartedly agreed with my compliments of the salad.
As you might expect, the entrees were all fabulous. The two different types of duck in my dish, one cooked on-the-bone and one off, possessed different flavors, but both retained the natural sweet flavor of the duck meat.
No trip to Madeline’s is complete without ordering dessert; in fact, the restaurant continues serving dessert one hour after the regular kitchen is closed. After much ogling at the amazing display of deserts, I ordered a slice of carrot cake, my mom a chocolate cherry bread pudding, and my dad a blueberry frangipane tart. Needless to say, each dessert was phenomenal and the perfect end to a perfect meal.