It's finally spring. We have waited long enough for the sun to arrive, and I am excited to enjoy the weather and all of the great ingredients and flavors that come with the season. Last night I was invited to Firefly at the Hotel Madera to enjoy some of the new dishes and cocktails they have added to the menu. Bar manager Jon Harris took good care of us making recommendations for us to enjoy, and also providing us with a refreshing cucumber cocktail palette cleanser in the middle of our meal. I started with the Porcelina which was made of Bols Genever, St. Germain, Campari, lemon, and Fentiman's rose lemonade. With the doors and windows propped open and the breeze coming through the bar area of Firefly, it was a really lovely start to the evening.
Chef de Cuisine Todd Wiss generously provided us with tastes of multiple dishes on the menu, but there were a few standouts. To start, the pimento cheese fritters and the beef tartare were clear winners. The cheese fritters, while fried, still managed to be served in a way that made them not feel too heavy. They came with a side of bacon marmalade which was hard to resist. The beef tartare had a small quail egg on top for us to crack and eat with the potato chips. I loved the different textures and consistencies in the dish with the soft beef, the crispy chips. and the liquid egg.
For the entrees, I particularly enjoyed the pan roasted Alaskan halibut. The fish had a perfectly crispy top and was served over a carrot puree and spring pistou with fingerling potatoes and snap peas. The carrot puree really sealed the deal for me on this dish. It had slightly sweet tones and was a perfect complement to the fish. Other noteworthy dishes included the smoked lamb shoulder with pappardelle pasta, feta, and leeks, as well as the spring risotto. I learned they actually have a smoker out back at Firefly where the chef prepares the lamb.
Finally, the evening ended with bacon bourbon bread pudding. Served with coffee ice cream and a peanut caramel glaze, this dessert was a delicious indulgence. I quickly noticed a serious kick of spice in the bread pudding, and Chef Todd revealed it was Cayenne Pepper. Probably not for everyone, but the cold and sweet ice cream cut it well. I thought it was unique and a great end to the meal. If you're looking for a great spot for a cocktail or some nice spring dishes, consider parking yourself in the lounge at Firefly. With the open atmosphere and the fresh air streaming in, it makes for a really nice evening.