Sunday, October 10, 2010

La Terraza del Casino Madrid. 2 stars.

After leaving Zaragoza we headed west to Madrid to find the first triangle shaped lift of our journey (success! It was a right-angled one). I'd had some difficulties with restaurant reservations, but I was still looking forward to eating in this place. After the excellent food in Barcelona, I was keen to get another fill of innovative Spanish dining. First stop: La Terraza del Casino Madrid.

Recipient of it's second Michelin star in the most recent guide, La Terraza is (as the name suggests) situated in Madrid Casino, an old gentlemens' club near the middle of the city and is somewhat known because El Bulli's Ferran Adria consulted on the restaurant when it opened and has been known to check on things from time to time. So it should be good, right?

Yep, it's good.

We get to the table and they whip up the opening cocktail of a whisky sour, using liquid nitrogen at the tableside to make a smooth sorbet. It is certainly sour.

On to the proper food! Olive oil butter comes served in a tube that you have to open and squeeze into a pastry pod of sorts. It would be nice if it was nice, but olive oil butter isn't doing much for me. It tastes like, well, olive oil butter.

On to really proper stuff. Snacks. Some bites on a plate like black olive muffin and tomato and pesto cake. Then a truffle made with yuzu that is damn good-texture and balance. Then trout roe tempura, which is so satisfying it's like trout roe was born to be in tempura, not trouts. Take that, nature.

Into the “tapiplatos”, the proper dishes. The first “wow” moment comes with oyster tartar. Uncomplicated but rich. A rare dish that actually improves on a natural oysters. Then an awesome hachi parmentier with lobster. Then two amazing dishes (seriously amazing dishes): the carbonara egg nest—where the “pasta” is actually a ham consumme that melts in the mouth and an egg where the white is a parmesan cream, the yolk still a yolk-- and the royal of pigeon with truffle and foie gras, made spectacular by sitting pieces of truffle and pigeon in a foie gras cream sort of thing and a rich sauce.

The tuna belly with lettuce marrow that follows is okay—and a good idea for a dish with the tuna resembling steak—but it doesn't quite work as well as other dishes. Then the final main dish of slow-roasted wagyu beef with pork raviolis that melts in the mouth.

The liquid nitro cart comes back for a palate cleanser and it's into desserts. Excellent balance of flavours in all.

We finish up and are presented with a printout of the menu. Not uncommon, but here they give you a copy that includes the date and the wines that you ordered. For someone that struggles to remember dishes and, in particular, wines ordered, this is an awesome touch.

Couple the excellent food with the good service, the room and the other touches and this was an excellent dining experience. While it didn't top the experience at l'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, or the everything at Guy Savoy, it's definitely towards the front of the pack of restaurants chasing third place for this trip.

And, maybe even more importantly, it was a sign that I was going to enjoy my time eating in Madrid.

Michelin star tally: 33

No comments: