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A mouth-watering rib-eye arrives enrobed in garlic butter, a less-is-more masterpiece Madrecki maintains is exactly what he’d most like to devour after a grueling day at work.
A blistered potato embellished with butter, maple syrup and sea salt is an insta-favorite. “Yeah, we’ll be having this for breakfast tomorrow,” one guest proclaimed while greedily dispatching the salty-sweet spud. Madrecki even manages to convert a few skeptics with his alterna-grilling tactics.
“When I think barbecue, I do not think octopus,” a dinner companion opined upon being presented with deeply charred cephalopod. In the end, the marriage of smoke-infused seafood and tangy-sweet sauce (pomegranate molasses-black olive puree worked like gangbusters) proved irresistible; our cautious friend polished off his portion before several others huddled around the same table.
Nobody needs any additional coaxing when it comes to the coveted popcorn ice cream.
“Oh my god, nobody touches this,” a first-time guest half jokingly warned dinner mates, his spoon darting from mouth to bowl in search of another dopamine-releasing hit of cheddar-topped dairy.
The signature sweet — inspired by the caramel- and cheese-covered snacks peddled by Garrett Popcorn in Chicago — is fashioned from microwave popcorn steeped in milk, with generous amounts of honey, egg yolks and heavy cream rounding out the decadent equation. The frozen treat is finished with tongue-teasing powdered cheese and a dulcet reduction of maple syrup, brown sugar and water.
“It can’t come off the menu,” Madrecki said of the now-evergreen closer.Growing Pains
His bimonthly meals — the $50 “suggested donation” (he’s not an official restaurant, after all) nets you a multicourse meal with corresponding wine pairings — have become such a hit, Madrecki is now selling out several weeks in advance.
“At this point, it really is first-come, first-serve,” he said of the email chain that pings subscribers about upcoming dates. Instead of scrambling to fill seats, as he did early on, Madrecki must now routinely turn curiosity seekers away, an inconvenient truth he readily acknowledges yet is loath to remedy.
“People that come are interesting. You don’t have to be the director of something,” he said of an admissions process designed to constantly mix things up by bringing together all kinds of different people.
And Madrecki appears inclined to keep at it as long as patrons are willing to keep filing into his modified living room for another wild epicurean ride.
Or until his landlord finally figures out what’s really going on.
His nocturnal activities were nearly exposed after Madrecki popped up on the apartment manager’s radar by transforming the communal grill into an ersatz smoker (stoked with grape vines, no less) for an eight-hour-plus pig roast.
So, is he the least bit worried the powers-that-be might shut down this soul-satisfying side gig?
“I host dinner parties. Don’t you do that, too, from time to time?” Madrecki posited.