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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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