Madison was a restaurant by Chef Austin Hu. Once known as THE go-to place for brunch in Shanghai from as early as 2011. Back in the day, brunch was still a foreign concept to Shanghai, and Da Marco was possibly the best Italian restaurant in the city.
As most restaurants go through in Shanghai, stuff happens, and one is forced to close/relocate. Madison had gone through a couple of locations, with the last-known location on Wulumuqi Rd beside Glo London. Today, Madison sits on Huai Hai Lu near Fuxing Lu, as a Deli-style eatery serving sandwiches and the occasional specialties.
A couple weekends ago, the original Madison menu was resurrected in the form of a pop up event at La Maison, under the event aptly titled ‘The Resurrection’. I checked it out for a late Sunday brunch with the Shanghai Bite club.
To our dismay, when we arrived at 1:30pm, many items had already been sold out, and we were forced to only sample on what was half of the remaining options on the menu.
Due to the temporary nature of the event and venue, this won’t be a formal restaurant review, because whatever was reviewed is no longer available at this time.
Long story short, we were quite disappointed with the food. If you are an ardent fan of the Madison menu, turn away now. You will not be pleased with what you read.
Poached Eggs with Pork Trotter Croquette and XO Hollandaise (RMB 58)
Being first item on the menu, I would guess that this was the best selling signature.
In reality, it was eggs benedict with XO sauce infused hollandaise sauce.
XO sauce is a type of chilli sauce invented by the cantonese, that consists of dried shrimp and dried scallops, often fried together with shallots and chilli with quite a bit of oil to the extent that the flavours have all melded together in the oil, forming a sauce together with the rendered ingredients.
The result is a spicy but super umami sauce that can be added to any stir fried dishes, or simply eaten with rice or noodles.
This version of eggs benedict at Madison didn’t quite worked for me, because the hollandaise was salty and tangy at the same time, which reminded me of a sauce gone bad. The eggs were decently done, with the yolk still flowing, but alas, the dish was drowned in too much sauce.
The pork trotter croquettes were meant as the meat element of the benedict, but failed to leave any impression whatsoever. Altogether, I felt the flavours were muddled despite the effort to make it a special fusion eggs benedict.
French Scrambled Eggs with Puff Pastry, Mixed Mushrooms and Truffle Oil (RMB 58)
Everyone had ‘that look’ when this dish arrived at the table. This was certainly the least visually appetising dish that I have had in recent memory. Chef Austin Hu’s version of french scrambled eggs. I’ve had and made french style scrambled eggs many times, in fact, recently raved about the one at The Commune Social. French scrambled eggs should be creamy, barely curdled with very fine curds that you could barely pick up with a fork. In fact, French style scrambled eggs should resemble more like a spread.
The one at Madison that day, resembled eggs that had been cooked in liquid, hence having a weird broken up consistency, and alot of liquid oozing out.
Neither the mushrooms nor the arugula felt integrated together with the eggs as a dish. We did however caught a whiff of the truffle oil, which made the dish only a bit more interesting.
I also questioned the quality of the eggs used, considering the pale yellow colour of the scrambled eggs.
Deviled Eggs with Cured Salmon, Rye Crisps and Salmon Roe (RMB 48)
This was a pretty looking dish, although a little confusing to pick up — It was impossible to pick up both salmon and egg in one movement without everything falling apart. I suspect this was originally meant to rest on a piece of rye crisp, which would have made more sense. Unfortunately, it was served as is, which meant eating either the egg first, or the salmon first.
The salmon was quite salty. With the inclusion of salmon roe on the egg, every mouthful didn’t get less salty. All that said, I thought that the flavours were quite nice, and the take of eggs on egg was cute and worked well, if only there was a sour element to balance out the saltiness.
Scotch Duck Eggs with Whole Grain Mustard (RMB 38)
This was also a dish I remembered being raved about in the old days of Madison on Fenyang Lu.
The ones we were served that day were cold, dry and stale. The mince meat casing was dry and crumbly, the egg, also cold and overcooked with the dreaded grey sulfuric ring.
Arugula appeared to dress the dish, but in reality, was neither pretty nor tasty as a garnish.
‘Ok so much for the bitching, how would YOU have done it, Mr Shanghai Kid?’
I would have liked a scotch egg with just-right, moist but set yolks, and orange ones at that, wrapped around a firm but juicy minced meat casing of 70% lean and 30% fatty pork, seasoned lightly with spice herb of your choice and/or some peppers, before being deep-fried upon order, with a lightly breaded crisp on the outside.
The minced meat casing of the scotch eggs were also deceptively spicy. Nobody went for seconds at the scotched eggs that day at Madison, but at least they looked better than the scrambled eggs.
Madison Burger with Aioli, Brioche (RMB 78)
This was a very simple hamburger, sans cheese. It had arugula, a slice of tomato and beef patty, dressed with some mustard. The patty was under-seasoned, but juicy and had retained nice natural flavours of the beef.
The bun was soft, but managed to hold together even after soaking up the beef juices. A slice or two of American cheese would have been nice.
House-Smoked Bacon with Raw Sugar and Chilli (RMB 32)
The house-smoked bacon arrived as thick chunks. First sensation upon tasting, was a rush of sweetness, followed by a tinge of spice. I didn’t detect the cured smokey taste of bacon.
If this was a blind taste test, I would have guessed these to be a version of Singaporean smoked meat (Ba Kwa) and never would have thought they were bacon. To add fuel to fire, these were also tough and chewy.
S’More Sundae and Peanut Butter Jelly Sundae (RMB 40)
Ice cream sundae in a cup, everyone loves ice cream, how could things go wrong?
We left with the ice cream cups 80% full (because most of us had exactly one taste each).
They were both consistently sweet till the extent of discomfort in the throat.
My Malaysian friend and I agreed that it reminded us of the cheap ‘Walls’ ice cream that we had as children, bought in plastic containers from supermarkets.
I couldn’t quite understood the lapse in quality of the ice cream, especially when one could get hold of some amazing ice cream from Gracie’s, just 15 minutes away.
That concludes my experience of the Madison brunch resurrection. Nuff said.