is the article from New City.
I ate there last Tuesday. It had only opened the Tuesday prior, but things were good just the same. As mentioned before, the service was exceptionally friendly, relaxed and solid. I can't think of any problems worth mentioning, really. But maybe because it had only been open a week, I don't think they had received their full order of wine glasses -- our table had a couple of different types of glasses. We could not have cared less, but others might (mado is currently BYO, with a liquor license pending).
As for the food, it was generally good. With the recent influx of Lincoln Park-esque restaurant/bars like The Foundry (or Boundary?) on Division, or Fifty/50 (and please, no need to remind me that Wicker Park has been a victim of Lincoln Park-ification for years already), it's nice to see a relatively straightforward, gimmick-free restaurant. One friend had the lamb which was over-cooked but still tasty. I had the taglietalle with cauliflower which was decent -- it could have benefited from a little more extra-virgin olive oil or cheese, but whatever. Another friend made a dinner out of their olive-oil poached tuna (which also seemed over-cooked) and tortellini soup, and found both enjoyable. And the other person had the trout -- served with the head still attached -- which was also good.
While the food all tasted pretty good, the prices seemed maybe a little high -- all entrees are at the $15-18 range. I applaud their focus on local/seasonal/organic/blah blah blah, but you don't get a lot for that much. The lamb, maybe 6-8 oz., was served sliced on a plate. With nothing else (the sides that come with entrees -- see below -- are served on a separate plate). It looked a little lonely and, honestly, not very appetizing. Nothing looked especially exciting on the plate.
The way that the menu has been set up proved a little confusing. There are bruschetta, anti-pasti, cured meats, seafood apps, hot apps, and entrees. Each entree comes with a side, a choice of which is available (our night it was polenta, garlic potatoes or a small salad, I think). And the sides are also available ala carte. I would much prefer to see two listings: small plates and large plates. Also, ditch the choice of sides for the entrees and just include one, ditching the additional plate, as well.
Desserts were a real highlight -- we had considered trying Starfruit, but I'm glad we stayed at mado. We had their rhubarb fool with an anise pizelle (which immediately reminded my friend of his grandmother -- a good sign, IMO), their dates with coffee and buffalo ricotta (excellent) and a piece of chocolate tarte (a good dose of bittersweet chocolate goodness here). I ordered a piece of cheese -- a goat cheese with a line of paprika in the middle. Each item was $6. One service-related issue that comes to mind now -- when I was served the cheese, I received a knife but no fork. I didn't know if I was expected to eat the cheese directly from the knife, but I asked for a fork and it was completely fine. But I thought it was a little odd just the same.
The room looks nice -- two walls of exposed brick, nice lighting throughout, a decent sized bar in the corner, etc. The tables have a cheap-looking laminate, but whatever. Save the money for the food.
I do think mado has a lot of promise. I'd like to see a couple of $10 options that bridge the gap between small and large plates. I think there had been a mention of panini on the menu in Nagrant's articles -- I hope they show up once the restaurant has been open a little longer. Also, if the savory can start upping the ante and looking as good as they taste, that would be good, too. But it's been open only a week -- I think the chefs/owners are doing pretty well, considering.