We recently had a chance to go out on a beautiful sunny day and enjoy the patio at Players on Madison, a local favorite in Lakewood for years. That patio always seems to show up on lists of “Great Places to Eat Outside” and it did not disappoint, fitting the bill for a lazy late-afternoon summer dinner. The menu here is “New American” with Mediterranean roots, full of creative takes on classic fares in addition to a number of pizzas and “pizzettes.”
Our meal was quintessential summer. We started with two small plates because everything sounded delicious. First, an heirloom tomato salad, which was just that. Thick slices of juicy tomato with some crumbled feta, chopped herbs, and a drizzle of balsamic. I was expecting the stereotypical salad with some extra tomato on top, but to forego the lettuce and just skip straight to the good part was a pleasant surprise. Second was a smoked mozzarella, gooey and warm and surrounded by prosciutto, fried zucchini, and tomato bacon jam.
Next up was an ancho-glazed pork tenderloin for S, complete with tomato bacon corn ragout, grilled asparagus, and crispy pommes frites; and for me, a dish called “A Study in Tomatoes,” which sounded too amazing to pass up. Sundried tomato Asiago risotto, fried green tomatoes with a creamy St. Angel (cheese) and lemon oregano vinaigrette, roasted tomato-polenta gratin and a salad consisting of sliced beefsteak tomato, red onion and boccancini. Tomato overload (not to worry; this is a good thing around here, since tomato season is so short). Definitely one of the more unique and creative dishes I’ve had, with the assortment of flavor and texture, all highlighting this simple vegetable.
And finally, dessert was a luscious combination of chocolate, cream, and a drizzle of raspberry – hard to go wrong there.
Players on Madison is good for six stars out of seven – great food, good service, and prices are reasonable. Unfortunately, Players will be closing soon after a long run, so get there soon. There will, however, be a new restaurant opening in the space shortly thereafter featuring the same chef, so I’m excited to see what’s next!