Le Madison (Steak & Lobster) – Whitechapel
Whilst a partial view of the restaurant’s invitingly bright, multi-coloured interior somewhat helps compensate for its shopfront sign being dwarfed by a humongous solicitor’s logo directly above, the place had only been open two months when we visisted in April.
What’s more, the exceptionally conceived decor and colour scheme certainly provided a super-impressive first impression.
With a capacity of 65, the large, centrally located, non-alcoholic drinks bar serves as the focal point around which the service and fun revolves.
White pillars contrast against the black ceiling, while the dark wooden tables and chairs are sufficiently set apart so as to offer equally sufficient leg room.
The other impressive feature of Le Madison is the art work. Not only is there a depiction of the iconic exchange between the two Hollywood legends De Niro and Al Pacino from the movie Heat, but also a wall mural of both New York City and Central London extending across the back wall.
With maroon upholstered cushioned seating also at the back, Le Madison has undoubtedly expended some thought and effort into creating a comfortable, modern vibe.
Although one Lion considered both the strawberry syrup to be a little too sweet and the camomile in the Strawberry Camomile “Martini” to be insipid, the others disagreed, thinking it to be good, while picking up on a hint of tanginess.
The Rosemary & Blueberry Smash, however, brought unanimity, with all three considering the taste of the rosemarry to be far too harsh and bitter. And though we picked up on the lemon, we couldn’t quite taste the honey that might have helped counter said bitterness. What’s worse, the straws were far too thin resulting in continuous blockages.
As for the Blueberry Mojito, then everything was so subtle that nothing really stood out. The lemonade was weak with only the sourness of the lemon adding anything remotely interesting.
The Coconut, Cucumber, Lime & Mint Cooler was essentially cucumber with the sweetness of the coconut running through the background. And while it was a fresh, decently balanced beverage, a stronger kick of lime could have done wonders.
Built up of standard nachos smothered in gooey cheese, plenty of well diced tomatoes and onions, and spoonfuls of guacamole, this rustic looking plate of Loaded Nanchos was one of the better ones we’ve had recently.
For those unfamiliar with Poutine, then it’s fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy that originates from the predominantly French-speaking province of Canada’s Quebec.
With its mixture of cheese and mince, Le Madison’s version was more chilli con carne. While there’s oodles of cheese, the finely ground mince was dry. And despite the mixture being well spiced and flavourous, the mince was quite disparate in nature requiring perhaps a sauce to bring the whole dish together into a coherent whole.
The Hand-Cut Chips and Sweet Potato Fries were rustic, crunchy and crispy – just as you’d want them.
The Onion Rings, however, were crunchy, greasy and oily, and peculiarly presented atop a bed of lettuce dressed in a light vinaigrette. As you can see, standard to the extreme.
Although this dish of soft pasta, generously covered in a velvety cheese sauce with a good amount of black pepper, was a deliciously satisfying one, it still came across as fairly steep for a small bowl of what was, in the end, simply Mac & Cheese.
Not quite the Chicken Caesar salad we were anticipating.
The crunchy croutons and soft square pieces of halloumi couldn’t hide the fact that the chicken was overcooked and dry. Neither could it mask how extremely wilted the lettuce was.
Le Madison’s sauces were a mixture of the thoroughly impressive to the bog-standard.
With the Buffalo, Sweet Chilli, and BBQ being the latter, the following came across as in-house made.
The best of the eight was evidently the absolutely divine Chimichurri, with a sweet-vinegary wallop kick that tantilised the tastebuds before leaving a pleasant hit at the back of the throat.
The Garlic was thick and full of taste, while the Mushroom Peppercorn Gravy delivered a strong peppery taste that slowly made way for the mushroom.
The creamy Bearnaise sauce had a delicacy to it that wasn’t found with the watery Blue Cheese, which, despite being cheesy, left a weirdly unpleasant metallic aftertaste.
This tasted better than it looked!
While this seemingly overcooked piece of chicken was ultra-crispy on the outside, it turned out to be surprisingly moist and succulent on the inside.
And while the batter had a good herby taste to it, what this burger ultimately lacked was a vibrant sauce that would succeed in bringing the entire thing together into a harmonious whole.
The mayo sauce simply didn’t do this burger and its mighty fillet of chicken the justice it deserved.
The element of fun, if you will, was played out in the removal of the lobster from its shell and placement atop the patty.
But, as appetising as it looked, it didn’t quite marry as a happy couple should.
Although the bun was crispy, and the beef well textured and cooked medium well, the succulent lobster was, sadly, lost somewhere in between given the strong flavours of the sauteed onions and red onion base.
In our view, while the beef stood its ground, what the burger lacked again was a sauce that would compliment and enhance the taste of the lobster. The insipid mayo sauce simply wasn’t enough.
There’s certainly potential here; all it requires is a few tweaks.
The meat was cooked in between medium-rare and medium, and consequently offered an assortment of textures ranging from the soft and succulent, to those chewy juicy morsels so distinct of a good T-bone cut.
Couple that with the gorgeous charring on the outside, which ensured that added depth of barbecue flavour, and what you had here was a steak which, when had with the strong mushroom sauce, made for an incredibly satisfying meal.
To be honest, we enjoyed this minus the fuss and bother of the accompanying condiments.
But, for what it’s worth, they were cooked well, with the runner beans retaining a bite.
It’s difficult not to over cook a lobster done on the grill. This, however, not only came away easily from its shell, but managed to retain that chewy touch of a well cooked crustacean.
The rich, buttery sauce had an evident squeeze of citrus to it, giving it a tangy edge that worked well against the smoky overtones of the well charred flesh.
We had the pleasure of being the first in trying Le Madison’s soon-to-be-introduced-to-the-menu dessert.
It’s certainly a case of work-in-progress though. While the posset itself was decently set, it lacked that citrusy kick you’d expect from the addition of lemon.
We weren’t sure about the addition of the two digestive biscuits plonked on top either.
Again these beverages hadn’t quite made the menu when we visited.
While the Frutti Di Bosco essentially comprised a plural of fruits that barely scented the hot water, the Ice Coffee wasn’t bad, offering a bitter aftertaste offset by a touch of sweetness.
The Green & Mint Tea was subtly minted and quite unmemorable.
- NO/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- UBER EATS
While it is in its infancy, there are improvements to be made all round, especially with the drinks.
And though the well conceived burgers have the makings of something, they lacked, and surprisingly so given how good most of their in-house sauces were, a unique complimentary sauce that would enhance the distinct ingredients of a given burger. Instead, the chef lazily resorted to rehashing the defacto mayo sauce.
The timing of the food service also requires improvement, for despite only two groups of people (including us) occupying an otherwise empty restaurant, there were fairly long breaks in between the ordering and the arrival of the food.
Having said that though, there's more than enough to like about Madison for us to recommend a prompt visit if you're craving a good steak or lobster.
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