The critics are decidedly mixed on Madrina, the French-Mex sibling from the Proof + Pantry team. The restaurant just nabbed the title of "Restaurant of the Year" from D Magazine — an honor that's no doubt softening the blow of two less-than-stellar reviews filed this week by both the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Observer.
Brenner is enthusiastic about much of chef Julio Peraza's cooking, lavishing praise on artfully plated appetizers like pibil rabbit rillettes and esquites made with baby corn; but she's disappointed by lackluster entrees and a deafeningly loud atmosphere, leading her to proclaim Madrina a two-star restaurant — for now:
It's tough to assign a star rating to Madrina, especially before the noise issue is addressed; such a problem can be difficult to solve. The service was excellent and the dining room and bar are strikingly attractive. ... Peraza's best dishes would be at home in a four-star restaurant, but at these prices, the cooking seems too uneven even for a three-star dining room. One hopes that with time things will improve.
Reitz echoes many of Brenner's complaints, declaring Madrina a good concept that suffers from some bad execution. Reitz even goes so far as to offer some ideas for a potential re-concepting:
The tacos were so good I have a secret fantasy for Madrina 2.0 — a small and tidy restaurant with a short menu of hearty stews served in shallow bowls with baskets of tortillas on the side. A lengthy tequila menu and excellent drinks persuade customers to stay far longer than they should, sharing morsels of roast goat, stewed chicken and hearty mushrooms with anyone within reach. It’s just a dream, but it seems like a good one.
Another thing the critics agree on? Don't miss Madrina's wild setas, fried mushrooms perched on a creamy poblano sauce and served alongside warm tortillas for DIY taco-making.