Two tables: Review of Deessa, Quique Dacosta’s new Michelin starred restaurant at Madrid’s Ritz Hotel and buzzing La Burlona Bar in Lavapies

Madrid Deessa Restaurant
Madrid Deessa Restaurant Photo: Mandarin Oriental Ritz

IT must be easily the most elegant restaurant in the capital.

A true sense of grandeur awaits the lucky diners who get to try out Deessa, the hippest new Michelin-star restaurant of Quique Dacosta at the Ritz Hotel.

Madrid Deessa Restaurant
The elegant space of Deessa Restaurant. Photo: Mandarin Oriental Ritz

Spain’s chef of the moment had to be on top of his game to make it work in this large open plan dining room with Romanesque pillars, gold capitals and crystal chandeliers.

Ritz Bar 1
Ritz’s bar with Romanesque decoration, gold details and crystal chandeliers. Photo: Jon Clarke/Olive Press

And he more than does it with his choice of two menus, highly seasonal, changing regularly and with a number of his celebrated dishes from back home in Valencia.

Hence you’ll eat the wonderful red shrimps of Denia, or a Valencian pumpkin seed soup with black truffle from nearby.

Quique Ritz
The kitchens of Quique Dacosta’s restaurant at Madrid’s Ritz. Photo: Jon Clarke/Olive Press

But the real highlight for me – apart from the ingenious smorgasbord of caviar with Deutz champagne – was the Shiso saam with red tuna and ‘starry moss’, the most delicate of dishes, reminiscent of an Andalucian tortillita de camaron, but far subtler.

I won’t ruin the ‘hard boiled egg’ course, but it’s ingenious, while the simpler plates, such as shelled peas with eels, easily held their own.

Quique Ritz 2
Smorgasbord of caviar with Deutz champagne. Photo: Jon Clarke/Olive Press

Unbelievably grateful to be given an opportunity to export his three Michelin star expertise from Denia to the capital, Quique has installed his long-term sous chef Ricardo Vega – and spends a few days there himself each week.

The investment has clearly paid off for all, with the French food bible awarding Deessa a first Michelin star just six months after opening. No complaints from me.

NO BALONEY

IF you are looking for a hip, buzzing joint at the other end of the scale from Deessa, search out La Burlona Bar.

You’ll struggle to get one of its dozen tables so book early… and be prepared for one of the freshest and creative meals around.

La Burlona 3
La Burlona restaurant. Photo: Jon Clarke/Olive Press

Set in the edgy barrio of Lavapies, a short walk from the southern Retiro tip (behind the Reina Sofia Museum), is the culinary pop-up of Jorge Reina, who dominates the pass, glowering at both his chefs and diners.

A classic perfectionist he sends out some of the best-looking dishes I’ve witnessed in years.

Having trained with Quique Dacosta, Zalacain and DStage and then travelled the world, even cutting the mustard in London (Cambio de Tercio) he’s picked up plenty of tricks.

La Burlona 2
Yellow gazpacho at La Burlona restaurant. Photo: Jon Clarke/Olive Press

His cannelloni of game was as rich as could be while his Cantonese-style ribs in aniseed and plum rocked. It won’t suit everyone, but Mussels in callos (tripe) was from that very barrio, as good a working class Madrileno dish as one will ever find.

A scallop came out with a real Peruvian kick, while lighter dishes like yellow gazpacho with a blue fin tartare was so good, we asked for more.

After a lemon meringue tart with strawberries and a bottle of wine, we both marvelled at the price of just €89.

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Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

Do you have a story? Contact newsdesk@theolivepress.es

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