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River Oaks’ Hottest Restaurant Picks Up a Major Fan in Lynn Wyatt — and Gives Back to a Sacred Space

It's MAD, MAD Times in H-Town

BY // 08.30.19
photography Daniel Ortiz

“Have you been here before?” That was the most asked question, ahead of  “How was your summer?” as a clutch of sophisticates swanned into MAD for a Rothko Chapel fundraiser. For many, it was indeed a first time experiencing the celebrated interiors and the highly-praised cuisine of MAD. It was a foot in the door to the city’s hottest restaurant, one so popular that reservations are required a minimum of six weeks in advance.

Thank you, MAD founder Ignacio Torras and co-owner chef Luis Roger and BBVA for hosting the night that only further established the River Oaks District restaurant as Houston’s epicenter of contemporary dining — and chic partying.

Coveted invitations to the gala evening went out almost three months ago, intended for MAD’s grand opening. But permitting and building delays pushed the party back from summer to the cusp of fall at a time when the restaurant’s reputation was already solidly established. That, however, did not deter the gregarious Torras.

“So, today is the official opening,” Torras quipped, “and the intention is that we motivate people with the second and third gin and tonic to be generous for a very good cause.”

The MAD signature cocktails and wine flowed, thanks to the open bar, loosening inhibitions and pocketbooks. Proceeds reached close to $130,000 for the Rothko’s $30 million “Opening Spaces” capital campaign.

“When you open a restaurant for the first time, you invite the friends and family, where you invite everyone with no right to complain,” Torras told PaperCity. “And then somehow the opening night, you have a gala in benefit of some charity organization. So we decided to do it for the Rothko Chapel.”

MAD partnered with BBVA, the largest bank in Spain with a Houston stronghold, for the evening that drew Rothko board members, art patrons, BBVA clients and a chic collection of friends, many of whom hail from Mexico and Spain. In short, it was a very glamorous crowd. But that’s nothing new for the restaurant that serves as much as a nightspot (consider the DJ) as restaurant.

Honorary chair Lynn Wyatt, who serves as Rothko Chapel ambassador, shared that she had been invited by Torras to visit the restaurant before its opening at which point she gave it her blessing and then was invited back to review the space before the party.

“I wouldn’t change a thing,” she recalled saying. “You look there (at the bar) and it’s perfect. You look over there (a side dining area) and it’s perfect.”

“I’m mad for MAD,” she declared to the full house.

Following remarks that included BBVA CEO Javier Rodriguez Soler and Rothko board chair Michael Piana, wait staff swirled through with the  beginning of a multi-taste four-course meal that offered samplings of new items debuting this month as well as the popular MAD tomato and olivas liquidas. 

PC Seen: Rice University president David Leebron and Y. Ping Sun, Spanish consul general Julia Olmo and Juan Ignacio Avello, gallerist Nancy Littlejohn and Eric Littlejohn, Sotheby’s Aliyya Stude, BeDesign partners Adrian Dueñas and Marcelo Saenz, interior designer Nina Magon and Karun Magon, collectors Tatiana and Craig Massey, ABC 13 news anchor Melanie Lawson and John Guess Jr., energy exec Mike Loya, Joyce Echols and Steven Wyatt, Kate Wyatt, Carrie and Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, Duyen and Marc Nguyen, and Maritere and Ricardo Perusquia.

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