Taste of the Town
June 17, 2013 • 12:06:33 p.m.

Taste of the Town: Restaurant owner taps into creative side at A Toda Madre

By NICOLE WESKERNA - nweskerna@shawmedia.com

Among A Toda Madre's specialty dishes are the sopes, which are corn masa boats topped with pinto beans, duck confit, house-carmelized onions, salsa cruda and micro greens. (Nicole Weskerna – nweskerna@shawmedia.com)

GENEVA – The popular Bien Trucha restaurant has doubled its dining room seating since it opened six years ago in Geneva.

The restaurant grew so quickly that owner and creative director Rodrigo Cano said he no longer had time to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen. So, to get back into the kitchen, Cano last year opened A Toda Madre – a modern taqueria with a more flexible menu – next door to Bien Trucha.

“We wanted A Toda Madre to be more on the creative side, like a test kitchen with specials, not just tacos and margaritas,” he said. “The menu hasn’t changed much [at Bien Trucha]. That’s why we started this – we want to keep creating. We believe in honest food, fresh food and good ingredients. That’s been our philosophy since we opened.”

A Toda Madre’s food is experimental, as its drink selection. The restaurant’s house cocktails are sorted into two categories: for the adventurous and for the conservatives.

Among the “adventurous” house specialty drinks is El Mole – a drink made with a type of alcohol called Macchu Pisco, lemon juice, an egg white, brown sugar, syrup and mole bitters.

Another drink – Las Hadas – is made with Exotico Reposado tequila, grilled pineapple, orange, pimento dram and habanero shrub cocktail bitters.

The “conservative” drink menu includes classic margaritas – made with Exotico Blanco tequila, lime, orange liqueur and the option to add cucumbers or strawberries – and mojitos – made with rum, mint and lime.

Cano said he grew up working in restaurants. He said he learned a lot about flavors when he befriended chef Patricio Sandoval of Mercadito Hospitality while attending college in New York. He said that’s when he started experimenting with new dishes.

“We were always coming up with new ideas,” he said. “That’s how I developed my palate.”

When it comes to food, Cano, who is from Mexico City, suggests that diners try their chalkboard specials, which feature the restaurant’s latest kitchen creations. He said those specials typically include fresh seasonal ingredients, much like the dishes served by street vendors in Mexico.

Some past specials have included tlacoyos – a dish Cano said is common in smaller towns on the outskirts of Mexico City. The dish is served with corn maize stuffed with black beans, grilled cactus and is topped with an egg yolk. Another past special includes doraditas al cameron, which are fried tacos stuffed with shrimp cooked with garlic and olive oil, and topped with tomato, chipotle salsa, mixed cabbage, avocado and citrus.

“Real Mexican cuisine is going with what’s fresh for the season,” Cano said. “It’s not something you’re going to find on the menu or anywhere around. It’s not a special price or a special deal – it’s a special dish.”

A Toda Madre is located at 416 W. State St. in Geneva. For information, call 630-845-3015.

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