For the past few months, Dallas has seen a parade of interesting restaurant openings. Even well into the often-lackluster summer months, new concepts were opening their doors across the city. This week, the minds behind Proof + Pantry announced that their latest concept, Madrina, would open in the first week of September, and it’s about damn time. The French-Mexican fusion restaurant has been in the works for the past several months, and it’s an exciting addition to The Shops at Highland Park, a ritzy strip that’s already packed with excellent restaurants in TJ’s Seafood and Carbone’s.
Leading the kitchen at Madrina will be chef Julio Peraza. Before coming to Dallas, Peraza worked with culinary heavy-hitters such as Michael Mina and Kerry Simon. At Madrina, the cooking will focus on “marry[ing] French technique with authentic Mexican cuisine.” A native of El Salvador, Peraza is highly trained in French technique and perfected his take on authentic Mexican under the incomparable Abraham Salum at Komali.
Peraza spoke at length with the Observer last year about the similarities in authentic Mexican food and French cuisine. While he was at Komali, Peraza studied Mexican cuisine intensely. “To be honest, my background is pretty much only in French food. The more I study Mexican food, the more I realize that each state has a different style of cooking. So that makes what I'm doing really interesting,” Peraza said then.
As with any Misery Loves Company venture, you should also expect an impressive booze lineup at Madrina, focusing specifically on mescal and brandy in keeping with the theme. James Beard nominee Michael Martensen crafted the cocktail program here — half French-inspired, half Mexican-inspired — and it looks like a stunner. We’re particularly looking forward to Martensen’s French Polynesian take on tiki cocktails, including a pepita Mai Tai and traditional(ish) ti punch.
Curiously missing from the opening of Madrina is the culinary influence of chef Kyle McClelland, who leads the kitchen at Proof + Pantry. A press release sent by upcoming downtown food festival Park & Palate earlier this month doesn’t list McClelland as chef of Proof + Pantry, only Peraza, whose name is mentioned alongside both restaurants. McClelland did just return from cooking at the James Beard House in New York City with the Proof + Pantry team, so perhaps we’re reading too much between the lines.
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No official opening date has been announced for Madrina, but mark your calendars for the first week of September and prepare your budgets. You’ll want to spend all your cash on dishes like “Hay smoked Foie Gras made with jaggery, plantains, pepita and coconut; Lobster Bisque en Croûte with traditional French-style bisque, Mexican-inspired vegetables and black jalapeno ash; Enfrijoladas with homemade cilantro tortillas, duck confit, crispy duck skin and crema; and Plantain Empanadas featuring steamed plantain casing filled with braised oxtail, capers and chives.”