Today is: Wednesday, September 27, 2023
Madres Restaurant Review
Madre's, which is Spanish for Mothers, was created by Jennifer Lopez to celebrate her cultural heritage, and her family. Jennifer, who is of Puerto Rican desent, wanted her restaurant to serve Latin food, just like she had when growing up. Madre's
serves dishes inspired by her grandmother and prepared by her favorite chef.
A hint of fine dining mingles with authentic and flavorful Cuban traditions, resulting
in such diverse dishes. Almost everything is house made, right down to the fresh squeezed cane juice in the famous mojitos. While situated in a prime location in
the middle of Pasadena, Madres promises to whisk diners off to another
world, where flavor and tradition are king and dining is a simple art.
The Lopez family-run business opened in April 2002 in historic Pasadena, California with a star studded opening party. Besides Jennifer and her father David Lopez
who oversaw the operation of the restaurant, other attendees include Ben
Affleck, Nicole Kidman, Kobe Bryant, Jay Leno, Christian
Slater, Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro.
Madre's menu is filled with hearty dishes. Appetizers include: Empanadas, Ceviche and Tostones Rellenos de Cangrejo. There are amazing salads to choose from,
and the main entrees include such specialties as: Arroz con Pollo, Chuleta
de Cerdo al Ajillo and Jennifer's favorite "Ropa Vieja."
Jennifer wanted the interior of Madre's to have an old style Havana feel. With
the help of interior designer Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic, the
restaurant is warm, comfortable, and inviting.
The evening we dined at the restaurant, we felt as if we were driving onto an exclusive retreat. Our approach to Madre’s led us up a gently sweeping road then through an entryway. We next made our way along a driveway lined with graceful trees and lush foliage to Madre’s expansive parking lot. Even though it was early evening, half of
the parking lot was already filled, and we surmised the restaurant would be buzzing with activity. The sunny warmth of the day was transitioning into a clear, balmy
night, further adding to the illusion of a Havana night at Madre’s.
Taking the stone path up to Madre’s front doors, we could see that great thought
had been given to create a complete ambiance for restaurant patrons.
Proceeding down the walkway, on our right, we
passed the authentic and gorgeous bar.
Opening the front doors, we stepped into Madre’s
sparkling foyer paved with an inlaid floor giving the space an
atmosphere of sleek sophistication. The hostess greeted us and efficiently
summoned the maitre d’ to assist us to our table. The main dining room has beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, which accents the antique sconces on the wall, and white lace tablecloths. Booths near the bar have Habana style curtains that
create an intimate feel. The tables are set with hand picked vintage china.
There is an incredible attention to detail, all the way
down to the cigar box inspired menus.
Music was wonderful but not too lound, which while it made table conversation easy, wasn’t audible enough to consistently enjoy. Wafting through the air was a delectable and appetizing aroma of garlic. Our server and general manager, who introduced himself as Armando, appeared promptly to hand out our wine and dinner menus. Armando was quickly followed by a server who presented us with enticingly
aromatic warm selection of breads and garlic spread. Pouncing quickly upon
the bread and dip, we bit into the crusty slices perfectly topped with a
mixture of fresh garlic, olive oil; we were off to an ideal start!
Making a dinner decision was not easy. Madre’s wonderfully extensive menu of Cuban and Spanish specialties of seafood, chicken, and meat imbued with Latin flavors were all temping. Perhaps aware of the culinary conundrum the extensive selection created, the menu included descriptions for each dish, a big help
for patrons confounded by a possible dining dilemma.
For our appetizers, we chose the Tamal de Maiz Cubano, Tostones Rellenos de Cangrejo, Papas Rellenas and Empanadas. With the temptations of the garlic
bread and garlic dip all too alluring, I was thrilled that appetizers were
promptly served so our appetites wouldn’t be too affected.
The appetizers were tasty and enjoyable and distinctly flavored. The Empanada were tender and the Papas Rellenas with picadillo ground beef were perfectly breaded
and fried. The appetizers were truly filling, but I was dying to try
their entrees, which seemed to be amazing.
I had selected the Langosta Rellena and the special of the night; Grilled Halibut as
the second entrée for my companion. Madre’s portions were large and our
plates, served in glistening white shallow bowls, were brimming upon
presentation. Our mouths watered from the steamy aroma wafting
from our dishes, and we were delighted by our selections.
The Halibut, which was served atop of mashed potatoes set off with a lemon-caper sauce, tomatoes, and black olives, emitted wonderful scents dominated by the caper and dill garnish. The fish was impeccably grilled with a crispy exterior and firm yet delicate interior. Each bite included either the sharp tang of the caper or earthy brine
of the olive. A portion of sweet fried plantains accompanied my dish along with rice and black beans. The plantains glistened from the sweet emulsion of sugary
sweetness from the fruit, yet were firm to the bite. Mildly sweet and a little
rich, the plantains were a perfect foil to the salt and acidity of the capers
and olives from the sauce. The preparation of the was just enough to
retain the slight bite of crispness for perfect flavor.
My companion had to fight me off from sneaking too many forkfuls of her Grilled Halibut. My Langosta Rellena was also delicious. Generous portions of whole baby lobster tail filled with shrimp, scallops and octopus, sautéed in a white wine garlic butter sauce. The reduced sauce, imbued with an intense sherry flavor and zesty tomato, resulted in a savory depth of flavor that was irresistible. The dish was
perfectly paired with a large portion of steamed white rice which sopped up
the delectable sauce. It also included a serving of the same delicious
fried plantains which my companion heartily enjoyed.
Our 2 other guests were more into the meat entrees. One had the Bistec Empanizado, a prime breaded sirloin steak, pounded and sautéed on the grilled, also served with plantains, rice and black beans, and the other guest choice was the Chuteton, a 16 oz Prime Rib Eye steak bone in, marinated in Cuban spies and drilled to perfection.
If you love meat you can’t go wrong with these two incredible choices.
16 oz Prime Rib Eye Steak
Having sampled the expanse of Madre’s creativity with entrees, we weren’t about to deny ourselves dessert, especially upon learning the restaurant makes them on premises. Armando visited our table with a heavily laden dessert tray providing
a description for each one: flan, 3 leches cake and the rice pudding. Dense, hearty
and firm, the rice pudding combined a mild and rich sweetness from the raisins
and coconut. The flan’s rendition was traditional with its mixture of custard
creaminess and gooey caramel sweet of the glaze. While our desserts
were a little rich and filling, every bite was worthwhile. After
all, it wouldn’t be indulgence without dessert!
The evening had passed all too quickly for us. We were impressed with Madre’s capacity to manage each table as thoughtfully as the next. Throughout our dinner, hosts, servers, and wait staff would check on us to ensure our needs were met and silverware was meticulously changed with each serving. Service was impeccable
and our server and manager Armando was extremely attentive.
Their variety of wines and specialty drinks are served to you with professionalism
and expertise. Bring your friends and family to experience the flavors of a
Mojito, JLO Martini, Mama Mia Margarita and Sangria.
From red to white, our complex wine selection offers a type for any taste. Just sit
back and enjoy, while they complement your dining experience with their
award wining wine list with a variety of selections from California,
Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy and France.
Three Leches Cake
Madre's Banquet and Catering department can accommodate special events of 15
or more guests. They will take great care in ensuring your event runs smoothly,
by offering suggestions and tailoring to your special needs.
Madre's unique menu of Latin cuisine combined with the elegant decor, has made it the perfect setting for movie launch parties, and special private events. It is also
great for wedding receptions, birthday parties, anniversaries, traditional
celebrations and special occasions.
Whether a table for two or two hundred, Madre’s is a destination restaurant
seeking to wine, dine, and entertain it guests with generous Latin hospitality.
We even had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Lopez’ father; David Lopez
who was an amazing person and we all loved to meeting in person!
General Manager Armando
Madre’s is an ideal venue for couples, small parties,
and larger groups to dish and
dine in a unique setting for a special
occasion or to just savor good company and
fine food that
transform a meal into a memorable dining occasion. Ole!
For map and location click Here!
For more information please visit their website at
Article by: Mary Adams
Photos by: Chris Marx
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