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“One of the best restaurants in western New York” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Madeline Patisserie

Madeline Patisserie
215 E State St Ste 10, Ithaca, NY 14850
(607) 277-2253
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Ranked #67 of 241 Restaurants in Ithaca
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
Rochester, New York
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“One of the best restaurants in western New York”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2012

Would you believe that we drive from Rochester, NY to Ithaca, NY just to eat a Madeline's. It is our special occasion restaurant. It is where we go to celebrate life's events. It is a place where we take out of town guests.

What we find so special about Madeline's is their excellent food. For example, we have yet to find a restaurant in western New york that prepares seared Ahi Tuna as perfectly as Madeline's. The quality of the Tuna is extraordinary and it is cooked to just sear the fish. Most other restaurants cook the Tuna until it turns a sickly gray. Over the years, I have ordered everything on the menu and not once have I been disappointed. Everything on the menu offers are little surprise that makes it stand out from how you may have experienced the same dish prepared at another restaurant. I urge you to try something that you have never had before. However do not expect to get the same dish of the same quality anywhere else.

If you don't order soups when you go out to eat because your palate has been abused by too many that have been canned or poorly made, now is your time to experiment. If Madeline's were located near me, I would go there just for soup several nights a week. Don't try to decipher what Madeline's soups will taste like from their names. For example, a carrot soup at Madeline's will be a culinary delight even if you are a carrot soup fan. If you are not a carrot soup fan, you might become one after tasting Madeline's.

Then, there is Madeline's dessert case. All other dessert cases dream of being Madeline's when they go to sleep at night. At the end of your meal, tell your server that you will visit the dessert case to select yours. You may have to stand in line just to view it. There are so many to chose from that diners tend to stand at the case for a long time. I have had most and every one seems to be better than the last. I tend to favor flourless chocolate desserts that contain coffee.

One caveat that I have to offer is to not take someone who prefers very plain foods to Madeline's. We once observed a family where the mother did not like the sound of anything she read from the menu and asked if she could just get plain grilled chicken. The server graciously honored the request, but the mother forgot to ask that no seasonings be added to the rest of the meal. Her dining experience was unpleasant and she let everyone in her party know about it. The rest of her family were amazed by their food. So don't waste Madeline's on someone who Calvin Trillin describes on page 130 of Travels with Alice as having a Naugahyde palate.

It is best to call Madeline's for reservations, especially during parent weekends at the local colleges.

  • Visited June 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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97 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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    12
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Dallas, Texas
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“Tiramisu”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2012

A late night at Madeline Patisserie, drinking coffee at the bar while sharing a Tiramisu from the counter is the best date night. I highly suggest

Visited September 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Montreal, Canada
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“I guess I see why some people just come for dessert”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2012

Great location..nice looking place...lousy service...food is totally over-priced for the quality. Pleasant enough but we're not going back any time soon.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ithaca, NY
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Marginal dinner, fantastic dessert”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2012

Madeline's is one of Ithaca's longer-established fine-dining restaurants. We recently visited for the first time for an anniversary celebration,

A beet and Gorgonzola salad was delicious -- perfect, really -- but not very different from what you might find in a lot of restaurants, and expensive at $9. Entrees reflected Madeline's well-known wide-open fusion approach. A pork chop was well cooked but had too many conflicting strong flavors (hoisin and Gorgonzola). Similarly, a green curry had very elusive but strange flavors, with mushrooms seemingly marinated in something strong (black vinegar?), plus tofugan (Chinese cured, pressed tofu) where plain white tofu or fried tofu would have been much better. A review of the rest of the menu shows similarly odd, probably ill-advised juxtapositions throughout.

Desserts, on the other hand, were uniformly spectacular and immensely enjoyable to eat. Selection is dazzling -- 15-20 offerings, all displayed in a walkup case. (Note that Madeline's started as a patisserie and seems to take pride in its origins, to the point where staff go out of the way to mention that a lot of people come just for dessert.)

Service is professional and attentive. Our server's manner was a little forced in its formality, but it was clear that he really cared about offering help and making the meal special. Overall, the service is a good reason to come back. It is why I give the place four stars instead of three.

In sum, we think that there are many other better lunch or dinner options in Ithaca, including all up and down the Commons and Aurora Street, but probably nowhere else in town that is as much of a destination for dessert and/or a nightcap. Follow the staff's encouragement, as well as several reviews here, and go just for the sweets.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newton, Massachusetts
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
10 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Delicious desserts”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2012

If you get to sit at the tables with the couches, the experience is perfect. If you are stuck at one of the middle tables, there are probably better restaurants to go to. The desserts are always absolutely delicious though. The server even quickly made us chocolate milk once, even though he said that they do not regularly serve it. I usually get a fish entree of some kind when I go and they have always been cooked very well. Be prepared to eat a lot though because it is quite a lot of food if you are going for dinner and dessert.

  • Visited October 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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