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Mado's Makes Magnificent Mutton

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Oct 26, 2009 6:00PM

"Have you ever been to one of our family dinners?" Rob Levitt of mado asked us Monday night at the LTHForum GNR awards dinner. Allowing that we hadn't, Levitt's eyes lit up. "They're fun and, with this one, you're gonna be in for a real treat."

Indeed, last night was set to be a special dinner, mado's first family dinner in two months. Levitt and wife Allie focused the menu on mutton, the mature, older goat meat that's richer in flavor but takes longer to cook lest the meat turn out tough. Mutton is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, which falls right in mado's wheelhouse. Additionally, the seating arrangements and passing of plates at family-style dinners is geared to encourage interaction between strangers.

From the opening course of mutton charcuterie, the dinner progressed in flavor and intensity, reaching its peak with Moroccan-spiced lamb shank braised with flaming lardo, Allie Levitt's maple roasted pear brown butter tart serving as a fitting denouement. We even managed to gain access to the kitchen to see the lardo set aflame (see the video after the jump). The dinner was one of those rare perfect menus that didn't strike a false note. Every dish was perfect and the $65 price tag seemed like a steal, given the quality.