Mevery restaurant has come and gone over the past two decades at Antler Creek Golf Course, effectively operating as a slightly bloated snack bar for the mini country club type setting (next to a golf shop) . Madera’s is the latest to rise to the challenge, having opened in mid-April, our attentive and friendly waiter tells us. It’s operated by the folks behind local brand Omelets Etc.
Based on our tasting here, I’m more of a fan of their work there, as there’s an institutional kitchen vibe between American and Mexican comfort food, including burgers, sandwiches, salads (yes, there has a Cobb), fried apps and a handful of Mexican dishes like burritos and enchiladas. I will say up front though that the prices are incredibly affordable for today’s market. Consider my boyfriend’s choice of pork ribs: two strips with bone (although thin), served with a side salad, a roll and butter plus two sides; it accompanies garlic mashed potatoes with a bowl of red pepper. All of this is just $9.99 – wow.
No complaints about the volume, although we found issues with just about everything else. The bland, bagged greens of the salad with an overly thick and sticky commercial balsamic dressing. Potatoes taste like pot garlic brine, strong and off-putting. The red chili is also a miss, with an unpleasant ground beef texture and a one-note (not deep) chili powder seasoning. The chops themselves “certainly meet the standard of safe cooking temperatures,” my friend cheekily says of their difficult chewing; the flavor isn’t great either. It’s cafeteria food.
To taste the homemade green chilli, I opt for a green chili dog — $7.99 including a generous portion of fries or onion rings; I can also mix the two, which I do. It’s presented much like a slopper (minus the sharp white onions), the open bun under the hot dog, with melted cheese and chili. The sides are unevenly fried with browned, burnt edges and brown bits, both with a frozen feel.
The bun quickly turns into a gummy wet bun and the doggy base is okay, but I don’t dig the green chili – actually more of a red color, with a thickened gooey cornstarch feel (not my favorite style) and little heat, spice and defining earthiness. It’s just skinny. We wash everything with a couple margaritasa jalapeño-lime and spicy strawberry, made with El Jimador tequilas (house-infused with said flavors) and base premixes by taste and syrupy texture. They’re perfect for a warm, sunny day on the patio facing the greens if you need a pick-me-up of booze, sugar and salt and are more nauseous than artisanal in spirit. That is, you need to be aware of the setting and set your expectations accordingly.