One of my favorite pleasures of Spain is the food. No matter which corner of the country you may find yourself in you can count on one thing, that there is excellent food near by. Whether it’s a small family-run tavern that features homemade cooking to one of the many starred culinary monuments that are popping up all over Spain. There are the old ground-breakers like Arzak and Adria, but a new generation of chefs are building on the older masters work; case in point, David Muñoz at Diverxo, Madrids first 3 star Michelin restaurant.
Madrid is home to thousands of bars and restaurants, with well over 6,000 restaurants within the city limits. With all of this choice, deciding where to eat and what wine to try is not always easy. Many visitors feel overwhelmed on how to choose where go and what to eat and drink. If you find yourself in Madrid, here are five dishes with some a few suggestions on wine with from my five favorite restaurants in Madrid.
Chef: Paco Roncero
The Terrace at the Madrid Casino is one of the best places in town for if you are looking for the wow Michelin experience in Madrid. Paco Roncero has made this restaurant a Madrid Landmark a top a members club that dates back to 1836. Even though the restaurant has been around since 1988 it is a modern classic that continue to be innovative and must be tried when visiting Madrid. The food never disappoints.
Plate to try: Ñoquis al pesto con sepia Pesto Gnoochi with Cuttlefish
Wine: Gran Feudo Rosado edicion 2013
Romón Freixa at Hotel Unico
Creativity and innovation without loosing a sense of tradition is what impresses me most about the gastronomic scene in Spain. The best do not loose sight of traditional flavours no matter how avant-garde a chef may be. This is exactly what I love about Roman Freixa, creative food yet it seems familiar and satisfying.
Not knowing too much about wine I always like to ask the expert at hand and the sommelier at Roman Freixa really knows his stuff. When trying the Estudio del Tomate I had no idea what wine to try and had to ask. I asked Juanma Galan (sommelier at Roman Frexia) what he would pair my menu choice with this is what he had to say:
“Keeping in mind the different flavours that we find in this seasonal course -a mixture of sweet, salty, acid flavours and oily sensations- i would suggest a fresh, dry and mineral white wine made of an aromatic grape, such as a Moscatel from Málaga, from D.O. Sierras de Málaga that can be found in Axarquía, the eastern coast of this province. The acidity helps us to clean the palate making the wine persistent at the same time that the moscatel flavours -citrus, mint, white flowers, rare almonds- match perfectly with this amazing mixture of different shades which this course is full of.”
His recommendation was spot on and went perfectly with my dish.
Plate: Estudio de Tomàte (Study on Tomato)
Wine: Moscatel from Malaga
Chef: Diego Guerrero
Even though DStage is relatively new in Madrid (1 year) Diego Guerrero is not. Previously at Club Allard where he won 2 Michelin stars he has broken off on his own creating Dstage Concept in Chueca. DStage has a completely different feel to it, it’s exposed brick and casual setting makes it a restaurant you could eat at every month and never get bored with it. If you want to try something less formal this is your place.
DStage has tasting menus of 10 plates or 13. I suggest going with a wine pairing for each plate. It is bar far the best way to try new wines that match the dish just perfectly. Since I was there for lunch I tried the 10 plate. And one of my favorites is the Ravioli with Alubias (beans)
Plate: Ravioli de Alubias
Wine: Lagar de Costa 2013 DO Rias Baixas
Also new on the gastronomic scene in Madrid is Arriba. Inside the Platea Market which is in a converted movie theater on Plaza Colon. It occupies the second balcony and overlooking the entire market and stage below. As Roman Freixa says Arriba is the prêt-à-porter line of my cuisine, a restaurant concept where tradition and avant-garde collide. And I found this to be very true. Great food in a cool location that is easy and fun. This is the perfect place to share plates. For me the must try is the Rodaballo frito or whole fried Turbo. You eat absolutely everything. To top it all off Arriba has friendly service with a staff that came out of central casting.
Plate: Rodaballo frito (Turbot)
Wine: Cair Cuvee
Thursday through Sunday you can count on live entertainment at 9pm and a DJ post show for cocktails.
Chef: David Muñoz
David Muñoz and the only 3-stared restaurant in Madrid has gotten global attention for his unusual pairings and vibrant style. Eating at Diverxo is most defiantly a show, you are never quite sure what is going to happen but can count on being surprised. The only thing that is predictable is the unpredictability of what will appear on your plate. This one restaurant you will really have to decide for yourself, guests favorites and recommendations are as individual as David Muñozs food combinations themselves.
The dish to look out for is the Foie Asado + Erizos (Roasted Foie with Sea Urchin.) As for the wine, consult with Javier Arroyo the sommelier will be your best bet to pair your dishes with the right wine for you.
Ron Otto is Onwer of Best in Spain.
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