2015-01-14 / Restaurant of the Week

MADERA

Come for the fine Cuban cuisine, come for the best mojito and Happy Hour specials in L.I.C., come for the friendly, warm staff, yes, do come to Madera Cuban Grill Steak House where you’ll be transported to a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere where conversation flows among the tropical drinks and excellent, home style dishes. Madera opened five years ago and its continued success is due to the dedication and passion of the amiable wife and husband team, Miriam and Daniel, whose personal touches go into every detail of this cozy restaurant. Daniel is a talented artist whose paintings adorn the walls, along with prints from the elusive island of Cuba. Miriam contributes the recipes from her mother and grandmother that have made Madera’s menu unforgettable and unique. Fresh flowers and candles complete the elegance of the dining room.

Madera offers fine dining using only the freshest, quality ingredients at prices that are affordable. The service is excellent too, delivered by Andrés, who took care of our every need. You simply must start with a cocktail such as their classic mojito, voted the best in L.I.C., made from muddled lime and mint mixed with rum and dressed with a spear of real sugar cane. The “besito” is “little kiss” of coconut infused vodka shaken with pomegranate and pineapple juices. The “Madera” is their signature drink mixed with cachaça, rum, mango, pineapple, and lime. Fruity sangria comes in red or white varieties and there is a wide selection of wines and beers to enjoy with your meal.

A vibrant Happy Hour takes place at the bar from 4-7pm every night. This is a great time to sample some of their tempting appetizers that include homemade empanadas filled with either ground beef, spinach and cheese, chicken, or guava and cheese. At just $2.50 each, you’ll want to try one of each. Pick on an order of savory grilled chorizo sausage or a platter of fried calamari as you sip on your drinks. Cuban style grilled shrimp are plump and tender, served on a bed of mashed plantains with a heavenly sauce ($11). Tostones rellenos are plantains stuffed with your choice of ground beef, shredded beef, or shrimp. Ours was filled with shredded beef called ropa vieja, a traditional dish meaning ‘old clothes.’ The meat was so lean, tender, and juicy, I could have made a meal of it alone, and it can be ordered as an entrée. But steamed mussels are great too, swimming in a very flavorful herb and white wine sauce ($10).

A refreshing salad of arugula, beets, red onion, and avocado is drizzled with raspberry dressing, while the signature Madera salad combines grilled pineapple, avocado and watercress for a palate cleansing experience before the main course.

Madera Cuban Grill Steakhouse lives up to its name with top quality steaks, chops and seafood, all purchased daily. First we tried the flaky, Chilean sea bass, perfectly cooked and served with a delicious sauce and mixed vegetables. Seafood stew called Sopa de mariscos is the perfect winter meal, brimming with fresh seafood simmered with mild spices. Madera salmon is another big hit here due to the freshness and simple preparation.

The Madera Style Steak is their finest prime shell steak (USDA Prime), charcoal grilled to your liking and served with homemade rice and beans or a house salad ($28). Skirt steak is grilled to perfection and topped with chimmichurri sauce, made from parsley, garlic and olive oil ($23). A house favorite is “grandma’s pork chop” that has been marinated in a special blend of juices and herbs, then fired up on the grill to a juicy finish ($19). Perhaps the most memorable dish for me is lechon, slow-roasted pork that simply melts in your mouth with its natural flavor and juices. This dish epitomizes Cuban cuisine and should not be missed. The leftovers the next day were even better.

Sweeten your palate with their cool, creamy coconut flan with dulce de leche, decadent fried ice cream, or rich chocolate cake. An after dinner cordial and robust coffee completes the meal nicely.

Make your reservations now for Valentine’s Day! Madera can also accommodate private parties for a sitdown dinner for 40 people. Madera Cuban Grill Steakhouse is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner (Monday dinner only), from noon until 11pm on weekdays and until midnight on weekends. Saturday and Sunday brunch is served here and there are fantastic sandwiches for lunch including the most famous Cubano layered with roasted pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard on grilled bread. You can even order on-line. Madera is conveniently located near the subway stops in L.I.C., only one stop from Grand Central station on the 7. A short walk down the street offers incredible views of Manhattan from Gantry State Park. Open your own diplomatic relations with the fine cuisine of Cuba at Madera Cuban Grill Steakhouse. With fine food and drinks and excellent service, you’ll be cheering for Cuba libre!

CUBAN GRILL  STEAK HOUSE

47-29 Vernon Blvd.  Long Island City  718.606.1236

www.maderacubangrill.com

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