Those guys at Misery Loves Company are always plotting. The restaurant collective, made up of Sal Jafar II, Michael Martensen, Kyle McClelland, and Jeremy Hargrove, has already introduced two great restaurants to Dallas in Proof + Pantry and the now-shuttered seafood spot Driftwood. Now, they're looking to expand their empire into some prime real estate in Highland Park.
As SideDish first reported late yesterday, the new Misery Loves Company concept, called Madrina, will be coming to The Shops At Highland Park. The name, which is Spanish for "godmother," probably undersells just how fancy this new spot is going to be.
According to Misery Loves Company co-founder Martensen, the choice of the name is a bit deeper than just this word's dictionary definition. "Madrina does mean godparent in spanish or as I prefer 'When friends become family,'" he wrote in an online message. "That's something that we practice everyday at Proof + Pantry, which is making guests feel that we are their second home. That same hospitality will be practiced everyday at Madrina."
Martensen also said that a variety of factors went into choosing Highland Park as the location for their newest concept. "The Shops of Highland Park is one of the best locations in Dallas," said Martensen." "We are a 5 minute drive from every major highway -- I-35, 75 and the Tollway." It also probably doesn't hurt that folks in the ritzy adjacent neighborhood have plenty of disposable income to spend on fancy food.
Being in good company was also hugely important for the group of savvy restaurateurs. "Across the street we have a great neighbor in Al Biernats. In the center you have Asian Mint, Carbone's and TJs Seafood. Being a French Mex restaurant and bar, Madrina will compliment the block and neighborhood nicely," said Martensen. "The space will have a 30-seat lounge and bar area that will accommodate a late night crowd which I feel there is a lack of within a half-mile radius."
Chef Kyle McClelland will oversee the menu, which will focus on Mexican cuisine prepared with French technique and influence. According to SideDish, the menu will feature unique fusion dishes like hay-smoked foie gras, steak tartare with pickled papaya and dried jicama, and okra-bell pepper ratatouille. Considering that France is obviously one of the world's greatest destinations for fine dining and that Mexico City is currently home to some of the best restaurants on the planet, this sounds like a solid combination.
Of course, barman extraordinaire Michael Martensen will be putting together a cocktail menu with similar influence, along with a predominantly French wine list. If you've ever tried a Martensen-mixed cocktail, you'll understand when we say that the drinks may ultimately end up being Madrina's best feature. Martensen's cocktail philosophy -- built around the simple tenets of good booze and fresh ingredients -- often results in the most innovative drinks in town, so we expect Madrina to be no exception.
He's most excited about working with France and Mexico's native spirits. "I'm super pumped about the marriage of two spirit categories, agave and brandy," said Martensen. "They are very similar and have this spirit and body warming effect when you're drinking them." Beyond that, he's pretty quiet about what the cocktail menu is going to look like. Both agave and brandy are trendy in the booze world right now, so it's no surprise that these two libations will feature prominently on the menu.
Madrina is expected to open in the early summer, which may be a somewhat optimistic projection. When you consider the logistical and permitting nightmares that caused restaurants like Luscher's and Uchi to be delayed for entire years, readying this new spot may take a little more time that they'd anticipated. Especially since design firm Breckenridge Taylor, who designed the interiors for John Tesar's Spoon, will be completely transforming the space with French and Mexican inspired touches.
Either way, this is a restaurant opening to look forward to. We'll keep you posted as construction moves along and we have more information about an opening date. Until then, get thee to Proof + Pantry and see if you can talk Martensen into divulging a few of these super-secret cocktail recipes. Report back if successful.