I thought it would be a nice way to gather our merry band of expats and (hearty) eaters.  On a festive night we in past years usually spent huddled with family, some of Madi’s butter-blessed American comfort food would help us overcome our collective nostalgia.

The more formal (and significantly less lit) half of Austin Hu’s Fenyang Lu location was up and running, although only serving a Christmas chef’s menu – and with our group’s appetite and adventurousness (and our lack of patience and abundance of hunger), Madi’s seemed like the better bet.  I was also comforted by the fact that some Christmas specials were added to the usual à la carte menu, at least a nominal sign that not the entire kitchen’s attention was devoted solely to the chef’s menu.

Our dinner in sum was delicious.  The griddled short ribs really surprised us, and the first plate (we ordered two) was made really well – a lot of umami, just the right amount of char.  The broccolini salad and the brussels sprouts were also very tasty, cooked to just the right level of crunch.  While I liked the composition and texture of the burger, and while I appreciated the toasted brioche bun and that it wasn’t cooked beyond a juicy pink in the middle, it was nevertheless too salty to get any condiment or bread flavors beyond the beef (which by itself was quite good).

The spicy hot chocolate is firmly established in my canon of desserts, due solely to Madison’s version.  At face value, we ordered the brown butter ice cream (who can resist brown butter) but it turned out tasting more yogurt-y, without the depth of flavor that one might hope for.  But the apple tart, hot, thin, and crisp, and topped with a scoop of goat cheese gelato, helped end the night on a strong note.

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In truth, I was somewhat disappointed that the regular Madison menu, to which we still had access on my last visit to Madi’s, was not available.  The coppa ham, fig, and burrata salad (from the regular Madison menu) had been a highlight of my last meal, so I was hoping to mix-and-match a bit tonight as well.

Still, Madi’s and its homey and warmhearted offerings were perfect for what we wanted most at the end of the day, a window-side view of a festively adorned Christmas tree and long table to host the boisterous company of good friends.

Bldg 2, 3 Fenyang Lu (near Huaihai Lu), Shanghai
汾阳路3号 (近淮海路)