Madison on Park

By Sarah Holstrom

Lez Blog Culinary Columnist 
San Diego, CA

Recently I have been on a journey of self-love and I decided one night to take myself out on a date. I was looking for a place that offered live jazz music, scrumptious cuisine and a fun but casual vibe. I grabbed my phone, opened the Yelp app and found a restaurant named, Madison on Park. I thought to myself, well that’s a lovely name – and I began reading the reviews and perusing photos. Madison on Park – offered Live Jazz music on Tuesdays, a mediterranean inspired menu, a small selection of wine and unique cocktails, appetizers that all piqued my interest and a sea bass, which I rarely make for myself at home. This was enough to get me to dress up, don’t get the wrong idea, dressing up for me is still casual for most people I know. But, I took off my yoga pants, and cozy t-shirt – put on a pair of jeans, and a dressy stylish top and headed out the door in search of a night of solo adventure. 

My reservation was for a table in the Great Room, of course when I chose this area I was completely unaware of what noise level or vibe to expect on a Tuesday evening – live jazz night. I checked in with the host and after a few brief moments I was seated. The restaurant was already alive and in full swing even though it was just before 6 in the evening. The design and acoustics were incredible! I was seated at a small table against the wall and given a menu with specials and a menu with the cuisine and beverage options. The music was just what I was hoping for, albeit louder than I prefer for meals shared with friends, but since this was a solo outing, it was perfect for me to enjoy alongside my meal.
I ordered the half wheel of Brie with apricot-habanero jam and grilled bread as my appetizer, I was in the mood for whiskey so my drink of choice was To Kill A Daydream -California Glogg, Amaro Bonino, Buffalo Trace Madison Single Barrel Select, and for my entree the Cioppino – mussels, clams, jumbo shrimp, local sea bass, potato, vegetable stew. The appetizer was delightful and I wish I could put that jam on everything! When my entree came out I was surprised to see a red sauce with it, this is typically not my experience when ordering a sea bass. After the first bite I wondered why more people didn’t serve it with red sauce. It was mouth watering and delicious down to the last spoonful, if I wasn’t in public I would have licked the plate! The Sea bass was cooked to perfection and the vegetable stew served with it was a perfect pairing of what I could only describe as heavenly. 
When the server came back to ask how everything was I couldn’t say enough wonderful things and I knew then and there, dessert was a must to finish out this perfect meal. I ordered the Waffle Churro Sticks – served with jalapeño blackberry sauce, maple cream cheese and fresh berries. WOW!!!
I was drooling as this dish was set on the table in front of me, it was so good I forgot to take a picture before I demolished every bite. I ordered a glass of cabernet and an espresso to close out this wonderful experience while I enjoyed more of the live jazz band. Somewhere near me a birthday was celebrated and they brought out the churro dish I ordered but with a sparkler on it and the band played happy birthday right in front of their table. At the end of my meal, I was so pleased with everything I made a reservation the very next week that same night at the table. 
Since that first Tuesday night, I have returned on numerous occasions with several of my friends and coworkers to enjoy the asiago filled Gnocchi, The Pork Chop, the Madison Burger and the ravioli Rossini, and of course more of the Churro Sticks! Those who have accompanied me enjoyed what they ordered, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! I have sat out on the outdoor front patio area, the bar area and the Great Room and each area has been just the right vibe for that particular occasion. After realizing I had enjoyed the majority of their dinner offerings it was time to switch it up and give their brunch menu a try. Again, they nailed it and did not disappoint on anything that we ordered. 
The mimosa options were fun and different than anywhere else I had been before. The selection of sweet and savory menu choices were just enough and not overwhelming and the bar area was perfect for our brunch vibe. I can’t wait for my next meal at Madison. If you visit San Diego, pop in for dinner or brunch, I’m confident you will leave with a full belly, a smile on your face and a new memory to share with those you enjoy. As Julia Child’s would say, Bon Appetit!
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