Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Monday, April 25, 2005

La Madeleine (Sugar Land)

La Madeleine is a chain restaurant started in Dallas that now has 62 locations across the country. In 2001, Groupe Le Duff, who also own the ubiquitous Brioche Doree brand in Europe, purchased a controlling interest in this french-style restaurant. I know, this is yet another chain restaurant I'm reviewing, but frankly, it's getting pretty hard for small local restaurants to match the quality, atmosphere, and service of chain restaurants. So, despite my desires otherwise, you'll see me at quite a few of these restaurants every week.

A group of us went to lunch at this busy location. If you've never been to one of these restaurants before, then you'll probably want to know that the service is cafeteria style for most dishes. I like ordering the Croque Monsieur or the chicken friand and accompanying either dish with a Ceasare Salad. The Croque Monsieur is often nicely prepared with enough egg and ham to satisfy protein cravings. The Ceasare Salad has no anchovies, so it's not my favorite, but it does have real parmesan cheese--though I usually ask for an extra portion of the parmesan.

Today, I ordered the Duet Magnifique, which allows you to get half a sandwich and some soup or salad for about $8. I had the Chicken Parisien, a hot sandwich with some melted cheese. I happen to prefer hot sandwiches, so it's always a satisfying meal--if not ever memorable. I also ordered the French Onion Soup. It used to be that they served this soup piping hot so that when they threw the cheese and croutons on top, the cheese melted and formed a nice shell over the soup. Not anymore. The last few times I went to La Madeleine, the French Onion Soup wasn't hot enough to melt the cheese and the staff didn't know that they need to put the cheese on top of the croutons. Still, the soup is good and acceptable when you get that craving.

What I really think gets people to get up off their butt and go to this restaurant is the free bread, butter and jam. It's nice to order a reasonable amount of food and supplement it with some bread and jam if you're still hungry after the meal. It's also nice to go to a place with that french feel. The service, quality, and consistency of this restaurant has gone down in the past few years, but it's still your best bet when you've got picky eaters who need a decent lunch.


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