High Altitude, Higher Quality
By Ashley Bennett
We Californians like to think that we live in the fast lane. Most of the time, we do—as we speed down freeways, perform infamous California “rolling stops” and dine out with the assumption that it won’t take more than 15 minutes to get our food. There’s no need for patience as most restaurants are criticized for their lack of haste. You’ll soon realize that the cuisine at Madlon’s Restaurant in Big Bear is very different—while the meals take time to create, it offers a menu of the highest quality.
Madlon’s is a quaint cottage right off of Big Bear Boulevard. It doesn’t quite belong in the scene of cabins, as the place looks more like it’s a fairy-tale house in the woods, complete with a white-picked fence. Although upon entering you’ll realize that Madlon’s is actually a high-end restaurant in a compact space. Seating here is limited (and reservations are highly recommended) but the booths have more than enough room for a party of four to sit comfortably. Sparkling yellow-white lights soften the atmosphere, making guests comfortable and relaxed. If that’s not how you feel here, then you’re not dining right.
My dining partner and I started with a order of the Spicy Garlic Shrimp, which was made up of six or seven large shrimp and a handful of sliced mushrooms bathed in a garlic infused wine and lemon sauce. Each prawn soaked up the sauce, making every bite a juicy treat. Plus you’re actually given a shrimp fork—fancy, eh? If you’d rather try something more suitable for a chilly evening on the mountain, try the Creamy Jalapeno soup; its soul-warming with just a hint of spice.
It takes time to craft a masterpiece and Madlon’s owners Robert and Chelsie Orr proudly create each dish with their French techniques acquired from Le Cordon Bleu. It’s important to note that the food you order will not take an exaggerated amount of time but rather the correct amount of time to make each dish perfect. We waited a while for our food and after a perfect opportunity to catch up with good conversation, it finally arrived. The Chicken Florentine was a massive chicken breast, topped with spinach and picatta sauce, which retained every bit of moisture in its long-time cooking. The result was a delicious meal that could absolutely be split between two people (Note: the split-plate fee applies here).
No matter how enticing the menu (Madlon’s has a variety of quality meats, including veal, filet mignon and porterhouse) I always gravitate towards salmon. It’s lean, and it’s almost always decorated with a few creative toppings in the “sweet” category. The particular order of Salmon I chose arrived as a generously large slice of fish, drizzled with honey atop a bed of buttery mashed potatoes. Each fork-full a light flavor of honey mixing with delicate meat in every bite.
By the completion of our meals, there was hardly any room left for dessert . . . but I can never say no to an order of Chocolate Bread Pudding. I’ll admit that I expected a smaller portion of bread pudding (as is customary with other SoCal restaurants to give you some tiny, pathetic portion of a dessert). Instead I got a large pan of the stuff topped with a mountain of whipped cream. Beneath that were multiple rows of bread, alternating between well-saturated layers of gooey, sweet chocolate.
Madlon’s is an amazing find. The food here has quality that few restaurants can match down the mountain, and knowing that the owners take care of each order with such pride truly makes the experience well worth the wait.
Madlon’s Restaurant, 829 W. Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear City, (909) 585-3762; www.madlonsrestaurant.com. AE, V, MC.