Last time when we were in College Station we had the fortunate circumstance of waking up early enough on Saturday to go to Madden's for breakfast. For those of you who do not know, Madden's is one of my all time favorite restaurants. You may think that College Station is a cow-tipping, bar-filled town and I would have to agree with you. But Madden's is not in College Station, it is in Bryan, which makes it much more authentic!!! Kidding aside, there are also culinary gems to be found between the beer joints (or in this case far away from the beer joints). Madden's is located in historic downtown Bryan and is attached to a shop (which is the only way to describe the place). It is very rusticly loft-like in decor (which, again, is the only way I can describe it) with brick interior walls, hardwood floors, and a cozy setting (complete with working fireplace). I worked briefly with Peter from November 2003 to May 2004 at Cafe Eccell. Peter Madden then set out on his own culinary journey and my tummy has been giving thanks ever since! The menu has a great variety and Peter changes it enough that we (living in Houston and not being able to go as often as we like) can have a new selection when we come in. Some of the standards for lunch include the best meatloaf (really lean meat, well seasoned, and grilled with mashed potatoes and sauteed cabbage), boneless fried chicken breast (again mashed potatoes, and you can tell he has his oil at the right temperature because it is crispy and moist- not greasy), a variety of fresh salads (everything from ceasar to chicken salad to crab salad), and for those cold days in which you want to sit by the fire, delicious and creamy tomato bisque soup served with fresh mozzarella. You can already tell by the few items I have described that Peter's attention to detail and taking extra steps to make sure that each experience is both unique and comforting at the same time make for great food! Dinner is no different. One of my all time favorite entrees is the coco, coffee, and chili rubbed tenderloin steak. The 3-c rub enhances the flavor of the steak and gives your mouth something interesting without taking away from the pure steak flavor that comes with chosing quality meat. The sea scallops are also popular with my family, because he does a great job searing the scallops and serving it with a creamy risotto and a beautiful salad that, quite simply, refreshes the palate after eating the dish. Peter definitely takes opportunities to try different things as specials and depending on how he and the customers like them moves new items onto the regular menu. He has to keep us coming back for more! If you have a table that is accomodating or are looking for a lighter dish yourself, try the crab and avocado salad. It is served with tortilla chips and a sun dried tomato garnish. The crab and avocado are always fresh and work really well together. The wine list is complete without being exhausting to look over and I have never had a wine that I have not enjoyed. Even the lower end wines are good, the more you spend, the better it becomes! I usually save room for dessert and enjoy indulging in their blackberry bread pudding. The blackberries are plump and there is a touch of brandy cooked in to the pudding (which is different from having a whiskey or brandy sauce served on the sid, instead they serve the pudding with vanilla bean ice cream which is a nice contrast to the warm pudding). The unique touch however is the fact that they carmelize the top of the bread pudding creating a extra layer of deep flavor on an already delicious dessert. I saved breakfast for last because breakfast is the hardest meal to get there. If you love eggs benedict you have to make a drive to Madden's. They have recently added a few varities of the dish, but I particularily enjoy their "regular" eggs benedict. It is served with pork loin that is smoked in house, their poached eggs (which are always set just enough that you have a little additional runny yolk and a little yolk that is set), english muffins, a perfectly tangy hollandaise sauce, and grilled asparagus. I love this dish and get it every other time I am there. A new addition to the menu is the Jambalya burrito which should not just be for the daring of palate. It is a really flavorful dish that has just enough spice.
As far as service goes, they rarely lack in excellent attention to each of their tables. Peter and his wife Tara are excellent hosts and when at the restaurant make an effort to greet tables as much as possible. If you have the chance to meet them, please do so. It makes each experience at the restaurant feel a little more personal, as if you might be dining at their own home (I like to think that I am!!!). Blake, the general manager, is actually also one of my former co-workers and has worked his way up through the ranks at the restaurant. He knows the restaurant well because he has been with the restaurant almost since it opened (if not since it opened). We try to ask for Damon (again a former co-worker) because his knowledge of food and wine is as extensive as it gets! I know I can sit at one of his tables, say suprise me, and something wonderful will arrive! The rest of the wait staff is accomodating, friendly, and helpful and any questions you have or changes you would like to make are done to the best of their ability (not that there are many changes that need to occur).
In case you could not tell, I love Madden's. The setting is great, the food and service are wonderful, and the prices are good for what you get!