Terraza del Casino

The thing about Terraza del Casino in Madrid is that it is in a private club and the people there, frankly, are weird!

Terraza del Casino: Private Club

For instance, when Toni and I were in Madrid a few weeks ago we had a reservation at Terraza del Casino for 9pm. We arrived about ten minutes before nine and they would not allow us into the restaurant! We had to wait in the lobby until exactly 9pm when someone came to fetch us.

That’s really not the way to get my dining experience off to a good start.

Then they have that ridiculous rule that men are required to where a jacket in the dining room at all times, all the way through the meal! Forget whether you feel comfortable and have a good time.

In fact, I read on Trip Advisor one review from a disgusted client that had actually been declined entrance to the restaurant because he was jacket-less, and had to leave hungry! To be fair, they do remind you several times when you book about the dress code.

This was my second visit to two Michelin star restaurant Terraza del Casino in Madrid and Toni’s third.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Terraza del Casino: The Restaurant

The restaurant (once you are finally allowed in) is smart and elegant with large tables. The floor is always what calls diners’ attention, with its black and white chequered tiles.

To reach the restaurant from the foyer, you have to take an old, rickety lift that must have been there for centuries and which feels like something out of Harry Potter.

In fact, the private club itself was started in 1836, so the lift has probably been in operation since then! The building that the restaurant is housed in is spectacular. It looks like a grand old theatre or something. It’s almost worth not being allowed into the restaurant to take a look around.

Paco Roncero

The head chef and the person in charge at Terraza del Casino is Paco Roncero.

He trained at the Ritz and at three Michelin star restaurant Zalacaín before joining the team at Terraza del Casino, where he also worked for some time with Ferran Adria. He earned his first Michelin star for the restaurant in 2002 and was awarded a second one in 2010.

Until a few years ago, Paco Roncero was grossly overweight and unfit. He set about changing his lifestyle by running in his free time. He is now fit and healthy and has a great book out with healthy recipes and the inspirational story of his training.

Paco Roncero is one of the judges on Masterchef too.

Paco Roncero has another restaurant, a tapas bar, called Estado Puro, but Toni and I went a few years ago and we weren’t impressed.

My Experience at Terraza del Casino

The dinner at Terraza del Casino was a Christmas present from Toni for me and I had been really looking forward to it, even though we were visiting three other Michelin star restaurants in as many days, including Mexican restaurant Punto MX, Club Allard and Diverxo.

When we were shown to our table we met our waiter and the sommelier.

Maria Jose Huertas

The sommelier is Maria Jose Huertas, and she was already the sommelier the last time we ate here. As it happens, the last time, we’d had a bit of a problem with the timing and synchronisation of the dishes: often, the food would be served before the wine and the explanations about what we were having were quite random. We’d complained to Maria Jose and we had been really impressed by the way she’d handled it and turned it all around.

We were pleased to see that she was still the sommelier at Terraza del Casino and we looked forward to tasting some interesting wines.

We had decided to do the longest tasting menu on offer and wine pairing – no surprise there!

Terraza del Casino 2015

Maria Jose Huertas, sommelier at Terraza del Casino

Our expectations of the sommerlier

After years of hit and miss wines at Michelin star restaurants, Toni has a short, concise speech down to a tee. You see, we drink a lot of wine. We live in the Mediterranean, where wine is served with every meal. There are more than 200 wine cellars in Mallorca. And we buy a lot of Spanish wine too from different regions.

As I’m sure you can imagine, what we like to try when we are fine-dining is the type of wines that we can’t get at home, which perhaps don’t have a supplier in Balearics or if they make few bottles and it’s hard to get hold of one.

The last thing we want is a wine that we have a case of in our house that is from a wine cellar down the street from us.

We also like the sommelier to experiment with us too. Why not try pairing a sherry, a beer or something else?

Some sommeliers are a bit afraid of going off-script, so to coax them, Toni briefly explains our situation and asks the sommelier to please try to surprise us. He also tells the sommelier that when they serve the wine to us we want to know why they have chosen that particular wine.

Sounds complicated? Actually we are a sommelier’s dream.

So after Toni’s little speech, the sommelier at Terraza del Casino came back with a dry sherry (a manzanilla). She served it, showed it and said that we would drink this with the appetisers. And then she walked away!

Had she not listened to a word? Where was our explanation?!

We were taken aback but we didn’t say anything yet. As it happened, we didn’t need to. It seemed that Maria Jose just needed a little time to digest our request, because from the next wine on she was great, sounding really enthusiastic and pulling out all the stops.

The Food at Terraza del Casino

The tasting menu got off to a flavourful start with a mandarin and basil flavoured cocktail.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Bronx of mandarin and basil essence

It was swiftly followed by the snacks:

The anchovies in vinegar were pretty interesting because, as you can see, the flesh of the anchovy is served like a fillet, the whole spine is removed in one piece (that’s edible, by the way) and the vinegar is balsamic vinegar in the little crispy pillows at the side.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Anchovies in vinegar

Other snacks included:

Terraza del Casino 2015

Hide the snack in the Waldorf nuts

Terraza del Casino 2015

Monkfish liver canapé and Peking duck

Terraza del Casino 2015

Tuna tartare

Terraza del Casino 2015

Niguiri of tuna and salmon

Olive oil frozen toast, olive oil soufflé and olive oil cheese

One of the snacks was olive oil frozen toast, olive oil soufflé and olive oil cheese.

In order to get the olive oil frozen, our waiter had to pour the liquid into nitrogen and stir it as fast as possible.

This trick is done to death in modern fine dining restaurants, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s fun. The nitrogen freezes the liquid (in this case olive oil) as soon as it comes into contact with it, and it has to be moved continuously so that it gets the texture of ice shavings rather than a block.

It was a clever little dish, considering the main ingredient was olive oil, and considering the amount of work in each elaboration. But the little parcels pegged on the line were disgusting! It was like taking a swig right out of the olive oil bottle!

Terraza del Casino 2015

Olive oil frozen toast, olive oil soufflé and olive oil cheese

Terraza del Casino 2015

Olive oil frozen toast, olive oil soufflé and olive oil cheese

terraza del casino madrid

Olive oil frozen toast, olive oil soufflé and olive oil cheese

Tapiplatos

That was the end of the snacks, and next came something that they had decided to call ‘tapiplatos’; small dishes, like tapas.

The chef had clearly done this so that he could include more dishes in his tasting menu and therefore allow the client to taste more of his creations.

The ‘tapiplatos’ that we were served were not always the same, because I had asked for the seafood to be changed for something else, so sometimes Toni had one thing and I had another. We had, of course already told them that I don’t eat seafood at the time of making the reservation.

The first tapiplato was one such example. Toni had oyster margarita and oyster cactus, while I was served salmon marinated in miso with deconstructed tartar sauce.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Toni’s Ostra margarita y cactus de ostra

Terraza del Casino 2015

My salmon marinated in miso with deconstructed tartar sauce

Exactly the same thing happened for the next course. Toni had the red prawn and I had gnocchi with pesto and baby cuttlefish.

Wait a minute! Baby cuttlefish? Did I really eat that? I must have done!

Terraza del Casino 2015

Toni’s gamba roja

Terraza del Casino 2015

My gnocchi with pesto and baby cuttlefish

Toni’s dishes always look so much spectacular than mine! But I can assure you that I was enjoying my food just as much as he was enjoying his.

The only thing about this dish of mine was that it was so filling. There should really have been just three gnocchis instead of five, considering the length of the menu (about 18 dishes in total).

Next up we were both having the wild mushrooms with marrow and pine essence. This was my least favourite dish of the night because of the marrow.

What is it with fine dining restaurants at the moment serving bone marrow? We had seen it on the menu the previous evening at Punto MX and we would be served it two days later at Diverxo!

Terraza del Casino 2015

Wild mushrooms with marrow and pine essence

Next was lamprey a la bordelaise. Not heard of lamprey? It’s a kind of eel.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Lamprey a la bordelaise

Followed by sole with black butter and citrus

Terraza del Casino 2015

Sole with black butter and citrus

And then hake with shallots and codium. Codium is a type of seaweed.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Hake with shallots and codium

That piece of hake was very big. We were quite stuffed by this point, which, in my opinion, is a fault with the menu because even when you have the long tasting menu at a restaurant you should not feel too full and uncomfortable to finish the menu.

Thankfully we just had two savoury courses left; the meat dishes. Next up it was the Bolognese of hare with truffle.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Hare bolognese with shallots and codium

And to finish off, the rack of suckling pig.

Terraza del Casino 2015

Rack of suckling pig

The two meat dishes were excellent but I was really struggling to eat them.

Thankfully up next was a dish called Versailles, which was a fresh palate cleanser. Have a look at the photo and see if you can see which petals are edible and which are not:

Terraza del Casino 2015

Versailles

There were still a couple of treats in store for us in the form of dessert, and luckily they were not heavy. They were great too:

Terraza del Casino 2015

Strawberry and cream

Terraza del Casino 2015

Coffee and milk

The coffee and milk dish was the perfect lift after so much food and wine, which was making me feel sleepy. I asked the waiter if it was strong with caffeine and he looked concerned when he confirmed that it was, and asked if I had a problem with caffeine. I most certainly did not, and it was wonderful.

In fact our waiter was great the whole way though. Toni and I often have questions about techniques and ingredients and he was able to give us a very knowledgable and professional answer every time.

I hope you have enjoyed this gastronomic journey through the long tasting menu at Terraza del Casino in Madrid and I hope it will inspire you to visit this restaurant (sorry, private club) or another of the restaurants I visited on this trip.

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About the Author: Based in Mallorca, obsessed with the world and have a lot to say about both... Step into my shoes and join me on a journey...

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