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Foodies rejoice: BCN spinoff to serve up paella in River Oaks District

Foodies rejoice: BCN spinoff to serve up paella in River Oaks District

Arroz de calamares, almejas y Shishito
MAD will feature paella cooked over a wood-burning fire. Photo by Julie Soefer
MAD BCN Ignacio Torras Luis Roger
Owner Ignacio Torras and chef Luis Roger in front of MAD's mural. Photo by Jenn Duncan
Foie gras cornetto
The foie gras cornetto is tasty and pretty. Photo by Julie Soefer
MAD Green tea gin and tonic
Green tea gin and tonic is just one of many options. Photo by Julie Soefer
MAD Txistorra a la Sidra
Tsistorra a la Sidra: another small plate to sample at MAD. Photo by Julie Soefer
Arroz de calamares, almejas y Shishito
MAD BCN Ignacio Torras Luis Roger
Foie gras cornetto
MAD Green tea gin and tonic
MAD Txistorra a la Sidra

Next week will be a busy time at River Oaks District. The luxurious mixed-use development — which to be fussy, isn't actually in River Oaks — will welcome three new restaurants.

In addition to seafood restaurants Ouzo Bay and Loch Bar that are opening on Monday, June 17, next week will also see the team behind Spanish fine dining restaurant BCN unveil MAD on Wednesday, June 19. Named after the airport code for the city of Madrid, MAD will expand executive chef Luis Roger's repertoire by focusing on two aspects of Spanish cooking he doesn't serve at BCN: tapas and paella.

"Luis and I have always aimed at sharing the love of Spanish cuisine and culture with Houstonians, showcasing a culinary experience that is part exceptional interior design and innovative cuisine,” owner Ignacio Torras said in a statement. “With MAD, we hope to continue highlighting the evolution of Spanish culinary experience and spotlight the traditional tapas and paellas, which strongly label Spanish cuisine around the world.”

Roger's menu will feature a selection of small plates that are designed to be as appealing to the eyes as they are to the palate. For example, the foie gras cornetto that presents foie gras terrine, duck consommé glaze, and colorful sprinkles in a style designed to mimic the appearance of an ice cream cone.

Even better, MAD will feature a rotating menu of six or seven daily paella preparations, all of which will be cooked over a wood-burning fire. They'll feature imported Spanish rice and utilize a range of ingredients, such as one that combines calamari, clams, and shisito peppers.

Just like at BCN, the cocktail menu will feature a variety of both classic and creative spins on the gin and tonic. Preparations will range from a green tea version made with matcha to a paella-inspired drink that includes tomato, lemon, egg white, and smoked paprika.

While BCN only seats about 60 people in its main dining room, MAD will have room for almost 150 between the main dining room, bar, and patio. Torras tasked Spanish interior designer Lazaro Rosa-Violán with the responsibility for bringing the spirit of Madrid to Houston. The space features "moving mirrors" along with "Picassos and Brutalist Art throughout" to enhancing the restaurant's Spanish identity, according to a release. In addition, the restaurant's exterior features a mural designed to attract selfies.

Although it will initially open for dinner, MAD will also offer a late-night lounge seating Thursday through Saturday from 10 pm to 1 am. In addition, the restaurant expands to add lunch service in the coming weeks. 

Torras and Roger have found success serving precisely-created Spanish cuisine in an intimate, luxurious environment. Given all the acclaim BCN has received, food lovers are buzzing about its sister concept. Stepping up to a larger space and longer hours could prove challenging, but the opportunity to sample Roger's take on tapas and paella makes the restaurant one to watch.