By Liz Giegerich
You wouldn’t expect a positive online restaurant review to inspire a chef to change his entire menu, but that’s exactly what happened at Madison Kitchen in Larchmont. Two months ago, a simple Facebook review that said only “old school delish,” struck a chord with Executive Chef and Owner Nick Di Bona (pictured above).
“I am not old school,” Di Bona adamantly told a gathering of food bloggers at a tasting of his new menu recently. “I am fresh and contemporary and want to be seen that way.”
As he considered that review and how to change that perception (even though it may have been just one person’s pithy opinion), Di Bona realized that his guests were more often sharing several menu items than ordering their own, and he was quickly drawn to the idea of tapas. So, he wasted no time transferring his old offerings into a small plates menu, enthusiastic about the opportunity to experiment with the menu more frequently.
The menu changed over to small plates by the end of 2015, and here are some of the items you may find (Di Bona’s menu will change depending on his whim, customer requests, and, of course, the season).
7 Madison Ave
I’m convinced butternut squash soup should never be served without crème fraîche after having these tasty soup cups. The soup comes in sake bottles that the waiter pours into sake cups, adding some charm to the start of your meal. The brandied pecans add a nice touch of sweetness to the soup as well.
A vegetarian option that meat-lovers are going to want in on, the roasted eggplant meatballs have a classic, dare I say, “old-school,” Italian flavor. They’re made with breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, Parmesan, garlic and smothered in red sauce. The dish is just light enough to leave you room to try the real thing, Adamo’s meatballs.
This was one of my favorite small plates. The crispy polenta batons, served with roasted pistachio honey and Parmigiano-Reggiano, made it a sweet and savory dish.
This is going to be the dish that requires an additional order, because who doesn’t love carbs covered in cheese, especially when there is truffle involved? The gnocchi is smothered in fontina and parmigiano cream sauce and topped with crispy panko breadcrumbs.
This was a flavorful bite of duck confit in hoisin sauce, topped with sour cream and scallion.
The buffalo chicken or waffles on their own would be great items, but put together on a skewer, the two flavors are an indulgent and comforting treat. The buffalo sauce is not too spicy and the Belgian waffle is so fresh you will crave more waffle for dessert (but you should choose the Bona Bona ice cream anyway).
DiBona uses a 30-day dry-aged blend of meat, tickler cheddar cheese, bacon onion jam, and special MK sauce on a pretzel bun for his sliders, which will fill you up if the other small plates have not yet. The beef is juicy and flavorful, and the bacon onion jam does a splendid job bringing all the flavors together.
We had the pleasure of trying six different Bona Bona ice creams. If you haven’t tried Di Bona’s ice cream, handmade with the freshest ingredients, don’t wait for summer—get your hands on a pint now (you can buy it at the restaurant). We were treated to: salted caramel, backyard mint chip, rainbow cookie, chocolate sorbet, Nutella s’mores, and pistachio.