La Terraza Casino de Madrid Opening Remarks
-Located next to the Puerta del Sol in the Casino de Madrid, which has been open since 1836 as a historic event space and exclusive gentlemen’s club.
-The restaurant was opened in 1998 and managed by Ferran Adria who transformed the hotel menu into one of innovation and tradition.
–La Terraza del Casino is now run by Executive Chef Paco Roncero, considered to be one of Ferran Adria’s greatest disciples and the head of El Bulli catering in Madrid. Under his lead, the restaurant currently holds two Michelin stars.
-Chef Roncero is a celebrity in his own right. In 2012 he launched PacoRonceroTaller, an invite-only workshop for 8 diners that is designed to stimulate emotions and all of the senses. From what I understand about it, the room is controlled for temperature, humidity, colours, aromas, acoustics and more, to completely manipulate and perfect the dining experience.
-When you walk into the Casino, you’re immediately taken aback by the grandiose curved stairways, high ceilings and gilded embellishments every way you look. Its 19th C decor reminds me of a fairy-tale- just imagine your girlish dreams of the royal castle where Cinderella lost her slipper as she rushed down the steps. That’s pretty much Casino de Madrid, and that’s probably why there was a lavish looking wedding there the night we had our meal.
-The dining room reminds me of a scene from Alice in Wonderland with shiny white and black-checkered floors, pawn-shaped grey pillars, billowy grey curtains, and diamond-cached mirrors lining the walls. Inside, the tables are dressed with simple white-layered linens, and sat with cushioned pale grey chairs. I must say that the pristine Disney-perfect like space is not really my style as I find it lacks intimacy, but regardless, it’s definitely a beautiful space.
-The rooftop terrace is one of the hottest spots in the city, and obviously for good reason. When we visited it was reserved for a private party so we were limited to sitting inside.
-Service throughout the evening was professional and just friendly enough. Everyone was nice and quite accommodating with our terrible Spanish, but there wasn’t any effort to be personable or welcoming. As expected in such prestigious quarters, there was certainly a level of pretentiousness in the air.
-For example, the sommelier simply would give us the name of the wine and promptly disappear. Now, I don’t expect a full on tutorial, but I very much appreciate when staff take the time, even just an extra 30 seconds, to make sure we can really feel the passion they put into the pairings.
-Having said that, from a technical perspective, there wasn’t too much I could really fault them with. Wine arrived before food, cutlery and dishes were replenished, water glasses were never empty, and the two of us were served at the exact same time.
-My main criticism would be simply the timing and pacing of the meal and that there was no option or time to see the upcoming menu. We were sat down and we weretold that we would be starting with a welcome cocktail, and then moving onto a tasting menu. We actually had no clue how much it would cost until we got the bill. Moreover, I found there were inconsistencies in the flow of the meal. The first handful of courses raced by, and as we neared the middle and end, there were lengthy gaps, resulting in an almost painfully long 3 1/2 hour meal. This one did not need to be 3 1/2 hours
-La Terraza del Casino boasts about 500 different wine options on their menu, most of which are domestic, but there is a nice range of International bottles as well.
-Since we didn’t see the menu beforehand, we also didn’t know if there were organized wine pairings to go along with it, but the sommelier agreed to bring her selections for the courses. I guess we were both expecting to get small pours of multiple wines for each dish, but in reality, it ended up just being 4 glasses- one with the snacks, one with the first half of the tapas, one with the second half, and one with dessert. While all of the selections were good, there wasn’t honestly anything served that blew us away- neither alone nor as a pairing since it was made to be paired with a number of plates.
-For me, I opted to simply order a la carte at the sommelier’s recommendations- first a citrus-filled 2013 San Mauro Albarino, and then later, a very floral 2013 Vinas del Vero Gewurztraminer. Both were good, but neither were wines I would specifically order again.
La Terraza De Casino La Terraza Casino de Madrid Food
-Gleaning knowledge from his innovative culinary lab, Chef Roncero develops beautiful creative dishes from seasonal local ingredients that aim to stimulate all of the senses. There is definitely an element of modernist cuisine in that the presentations and techniques are clearly innovative, but nothing feels gimmicky or unpleasantly experimental.
-The tasting menu is available for 135 € ($195 CAD) and provides you with 1 cocktail, 8 snacks, 9 tapas, 2 desserts and a box of petit-fours.
Rum Welcome Cocktail
Passion Fruit, Mint, Coffee
Prepared right in front of our eyes with liquid nitrogen, the welcome cocktail had a fantastic balance of sweet rum, bright passionfruit, refreshing mint, and bitter coffee.
I would absolutely love to tuck into a full glass of this.
Olive Oil Butter and Cracker
Paired with: San Mauro 2013
This creamy emulsified olive oil butter made for the best of both fatty worlds.
Tuna Tartar Cone with Nori
I loved the contrast of the satiny smooth tuna with the light and crispy nori cone.
Guacamole and Herring on Fried Corn Cracker
So delicious it hurt to see it disappear so quickly! The combination of the sweet cracker with the creamy herbaceous guacamole and the salty meaty herring was perfection.
White Chocolate and Foie Gras “Filipino” Doughnut
Seriously? How could this be bad? Imagine biting into a crackly white chocolate shell only to have it burst into buttery fatty foie. This filling is so much better than ganache, if you ask me.
Peking Duck with Steam Bun
This featured a very rare slice of gorgeously tender duck slathered in sweet and tangy hoisin-type sauce and served with crisp refreshing vegetables and a thin steamed bun to cut the richness.
Goat Cheese & Quince Moshi
One of my favourite bits of the starter snacks. Creamy, tangy goats cheese with floral sweet quince is always a winning combination in my books.
Fried Quail Egg and Potato Horizo
Imagine a crispy potato chip but filled with a luscious runny egg yolk. Magically delicious and almost as mysterious as how they get the caramel in the caramilk bar
Talk about addictive- this little baby tasted like a potato chip but on savoury steroids with the addition of the teeny tiny fried shrimp.
Good bread, but not mind-blowing. Don’t ruin your appetite with this.
Frozen Gazpacho Rock
Olive Oil Ice Cream & King Crab
Paired with: Placet 2008
The first course of the night was an inventive and absolutely delicious take on the classic Spanish soup. Inside the crispy frozen shell was a selection of finely diced vegetables (all the traditional makings of a traditional gazpacho), sweet King crab, and a creamy cool center of a luxurious olive oil ice cream. Peasant food upgraded.
Fresh Almonds and Caviar
I was expecting this to be far too rich and salty to enjoy all on its own, but the caviar was mellow enough that it didn’t need any bread or accompaniments to temper down. Rather, the delicate cauliflower puree offered just enough body to carry the salt of the caviar, while the unblanched almonds lent a satisfying textural contrast.
Selection of Mollusks, Passionfruit and Grapefruit
While I loved getting the pops of flavour from the sweet passionfruit and the bitter grapefruit, I found some of the mollusks sadly overcooked and rubbery.
Gnocchi with Pesto and Baby Cuttlefish
This was one of my least favourite dishes of the day. While the cuttlefish were well seasoned and cooked, the gnocchi were soggy, gummy and unpleasant, and I found the parmesan sauce a touch overpowering.
Cauliflower & Celeriac Cream and Olive Soil
Incredibly simple but this was one of my favourite courses of the entire trip. This massive wooden planter arrived filled a few inches deep with a silky mildly sweet cauliflower cream that was then topped with a combination of dehydrated olives and toasted breadcrumbs.
We were then instructed to pick out any of the vegetables and cut the hydroponically grown sprouts out, dip them in the “soil” and enjoy. I could have happily made a meal just of that.
Olive Oil Paella
Chicken, Lobster, Saffron Puffed Rice, Lemon Foam
Paired with: Vina Real 2013
Another killer dish with creative presentation and seriously big flavour. Instead of the traditional rice, this paella was actually made out of olive oil spheres, cooked with buttery lobster and perfectly seasoned chicken thighs. It was then adorned with a sprinkling of saffron-seasoned puffed rice for crunch, and a light layer of dainty citrus foam. If you ask me, this should be how all paella is made.
Sole a la Meuniere
Butter Sauce, Garlic Sauce, Crispy Capers
While at this point, I had no doubt eaten my weight in fish on my trip, this sole was hands down one of the best I’d tried. The creamy nutty butter sauce contrasted the gentle sweetness of the garlic, while the fried capers and skin added a fantastic crunch. Hea-ven.
Iberian Pork with Yucca and Dates
Perfectly cooked tender pork served with slices of deeply caramelized tender yucca, and an addictively sweet date sauce. While I found the yellow mustard a touch overpowering, even in such small quantities, I otherwise thought it was a gorgeous dish.
Apple, Cherry and Balsamic
Reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast, the rose arrived in a glass container filled with dry ice smoke – an appropriate presentation for the palace-like setting. Using a set of tweezers (like the ones we used at Tickets), we picked out the center petals and savoured their sprightly flavour. The thin slices of candied apples seemed to tingle on the tongue with the intense sweetness of bright ripe cherries and the acidity of a gorgeously aged balsamic.
Strawberries and Cream
Yogurt, Marshmallow, Raspberry Sorbet, Sponge Cake
Paired with: PX San Emilio
The sweet sorbet, the delicate sponge, the bouncy vanilla marshmallow and the tangy yogurt all came together to yield a beautiful light dessert full of fresh Summer flavours.
Cotton Candy, Chocolate Ice Cream, Chocolate Coffee & Corn Nuts & Guatamalan Rum
Way to end the meal with a bang! This volcanic structure featured a sumptuous chocolate ice cream with plenty of crunchy chocolate-coated bitter coffee beans and salty corn nuts for textural and flavour contrast. While certainly not a sweet dessert, that tiny hint of candy floss on top and the accompanying rum added another light layer of sugar to balance the bitter chocolate out.
Unique Origins Chocolate Bombons
When this arrived, I could do nothing but feel regret I didn’t have another stomach to pack a few extra bombons in. Some were liquor flavoured (i.e. sherry), others had savoury spins (ie. olive oil), but my favourites were the bright and tangy Mojito and the sweet Cherry.
La Terraza Casino de Madrid Closing Remarks
-For 2 tasting menus, 6 glasses of wine, still water, and tea, the bill came to 335 € ($470 CAD). It wasn’t a cheap meal by any meals, but I did think it was well worth it for the quality and quantity of food we enjoyed. The service was professional and friendly (albeit a touch impersonal), the food was inventive, refined and consistently delicious, and the space was tremendously beautiful. This would be the perfect place for a special celebratory date night or a gorgeous space to book for a group- especially if you can nab a table outside.
-In conclusion, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at La Terraza Casino de Madrid and would highly recommend it to locals and visitors, alike.
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger, a cookbook author and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc.