Saturday, October 22, 2005


Madoka is Bainbridge Island's newest restaurant, which just opened yesterday. We had dinner there tonight, on their second evening of full service. Since we just moved to the area this year, we never made it to chef Alvin Binuya's previous Seattle gigs, Ponti Seafood Grill and Axis, but I understand they were both well-regarded. Co-owner Jose Gonzales runs the front of the house. He's a really nice guy, and seems to run a tight ship, given how well things went on their second night--only slightly bumpy, nothing really to complain about.

Madoka is located in what used to be Bistro Pleasant Beach, on Winslow Way just east of Madison. The building has a parking lot to the side. They've done quite a bit of remodeling on the space, and it turned out really well--it's a very sophisticated and elegant space, with dark, rich colors and good lighting. The kitchen is open on one side, and not lighted too harshly. There is a terrace outside with tables, so hopefully once they open for lunch one could eat outside on nice days.

The menu hes been described as pan-Pacific, but that's really just a jumping-off point. We started off sharing the Ahi Poke and the Wild Mushroom Ravioli. The Ahi Poke is probably the best rendition of this dish I've had. Sometimes it can be sticky sweet, but this got a nice balance of flavor. The ahi was in approximately 1/2" cubes, mixed with some seaweed, and served with a little ball of wasabi granita and finely diced cucumber on the side, along with some crunchy sesame seed puffs.

The ravioli was made with chanterelles and I think a bit of lobster, with pine nuts and fried sage. They were very nicely flavored, with a simple sage butter. The fried sage leaves were perfect. Our only complaint was that the ravioli could have been a little warmer.

For a main dish, Debbie had the Cappelini with smoked duck, plantain-mango chutney, and basil. This was an interesting dish; the "chutney" was mixed around with the rest of the ingredients, and the basil was nicely wilted. The flavors were good, though we both agreed that the particular ingredients would do better on a different substrate than cappelini, like either in a bowl with a bit of duck-basil broth, or maybe on top of some couscous.

I had the braised lamb shank, which was served on top of a puree of potatoes and parsnips (I think), with some long and paper-thin plantain chips. The lamb was meltingly tender, as lamb shank should be, with a richly flavorful brown reduction sauce. We both agreed it was the best lamb shank dish we'd had.

The wine list is small but well put together, with interesting selections from all over the world. I understand Larry Davidson at Winslow Wine worked on the wine list, and he did a great job. The prices on the wine are really quite reasonable. We had a Morgan 2003 Pinot Noir "Twelve Clones" from the Salinas Valley, which was $35.

I understand that Chef Binuya's mom (who used to have a pastry shop on Vashon Island) is the pastry chef. I had a Valrhona bittersweet chocolate truffle tart, which was chocolatey good through and through. Debbie had the vanilla bean white chocolate creme caramel, which was silken and creamy, not excessively gelatinous like creme caramel can sometimes be.

A great start, hope it keeps getting beter.