The Madison, final Zagat meal #3 is situated in a splendid old bank building in downtown Long Beach across the street from L’Opera, another Zagat restaurant itself housed in a beautiful room which is The Madison’s sibling restaurant.
Driving down from Santa Monica, The Monster watches the Goodyear Blimp unsteadily rise into the air above the 405 freeway which is at a standstill (shocking). And the unsettling thought goes through The Monster’s head that this blimp, which doesn’t appear to be finding its groove, could easily crash down and obliterate The Monster. In fact, this very idea seems a certainty and not only won’t the Zagat adventure be completed so close to the end but The Monster will of course be dead. Which you might think is worse is open for debate.
Well, the blimp flies onward and The Monster is safe. This is a striking art deco room with impossibly high ceilings (fifty feet?), beautiful crystal chandeliers and burnished wood walls and marble floors. The only room in LA proper to compare it to may be Cicada.
The menu is a straightforward look at seafood and beef creations. Chateaubriand, Beef Wellington, English Channel Dover Sole and Grilled Alaska King Crab Legs give one the idea of what’s on offer. You don’t come here looking for innovation, you come here looking for things you already know you like. And from the looks of the clientele, they have known what they like for a mighty long time.
As it’s happy hour and a swinging jazz soundtrack is playing, The Monster decides on popcorn lobster with a sweet chili sauce and the grilled chicken quesadilla marinated in guajillo chili and lime juice served with pico de gallo.
The popcorn shrimp are a bit of a disappointment. The lobster chewy, the fried wrapping spongy. The sauce saves this from a total miss. Still, for the price ($6) what can one really expect.
The quesadillas are better which is peculiar from a place with nothing else remotely similar on the menu. The chicken marinade really makes the dish sing along with the cheese. One fault is the lack of salsa, the pico de gallo is merely a small cup of cut up tomato.
Service on this night is polished if not a bit herky-jerky. A few different servers check on The Monster, sometimes within minutes of each other and other times with long lapses in between.
Completely stuffed after a huge lunch, but needing to push on, The Monster heads twenty minutes away to Zagat Meal #2…
Why go? You need to make a night deposit.
Monster rating: 3/5
102 Pine Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802