By Britney Anderson
Those familiar with the Spanish language will recognize the name Madera as a direct translation of “wood.” As the flagship restaurant of Menlo Park’s luxurious Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel, Madera is conceptualized around a wood-burning kitchen similar to what might have been found in a ranch house or old Spanish mission. The food is sourced sustainably from local farming communities and prepared with such finesse, it’s no wonder Madera is one of the best Palo Alto restaurants.
Stepping into Madera is stepping out of the humdrum routine of everyday life. Leave the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and Silicon Valley behind as you sit in the chic dining room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows that allow the décor to become a natural, refined extension of the gorgeous Santa Cruz Mountains outside. If the call of nature is too strong to resist, enjoy the panoramic view with your food on the al fresco terrace.
Executive Chef Peter Rudolph is no stranger to the area: He grew up in an East Bay town near San Francisco. He got his start at learning about local produce and cuisine by cooking in his grandmother’s kitchen with the fresh ingredients in her garden. After a shining career climbing from the California Culinary Academy to cooking for various Ritz-Carlton hotels, Chef Rudolph is now able to more fully express his Bay Area roots.
Madera’s cuisine pays homage to the rich culinary heritage of the western United States, and especially the San Francisco Bay Area. The menu is market-driven and designed with bold flavors enhanced by preparation on the wood-fire grill or rotisserie oven. Seafood is sustainably harvested, meat is naturally raised and produce is selected from the plentiful local farms.
With such emphasis on local availability, a restaurant would be remiss not to include an excellent wine selection. Madera not only meets this expectation, but exceeds it with flying colors: namely, a wine list that is 95 pages long. Paul Mekis is Madera’s Director of Wine, and has three times piloted Madera’s wine program to win awards of excellence for its cellar size. You can rely on the expertise of Paul and his team of sommeliers; he’s been a wine judge, educator and representative for the United States all around the world, and is one of a select few to earn the designation of advanced sommelier.
Depending on the day, Madera serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and even Sunday brunch. You might start your day with Madera’s California Omelet or Smoked Salmon with cream cheese, red onions, capers, tomato, hardboiled egg and choice of bagel. Choose Schmitz Ranch Lamb or perhaps Oak Grilled Dry Aged Ribeye and Short Rib to celebrate a special occasion. And for dessert, Madera offers everything from a selection of artisanal California cheese to a Peanut Butter Black Sesame Parfait. In a sharing mood? “Happy Hour” is a collection of house-made chocolate bonbons.
Whatever you choose, from any of Madera’s menus, is sure to be exquisite. So whether you’re staying right at the Rosewood Sand Hill or traveling near Menlo Park, Madera is sure to provide one of the finest and most unique dining experiences in the Bay Area.
Photos courtesy of Madera