Lúa means "moon" in Galacian, the language spoken by those from Galacia, a region on the northwest corner of Spain. Chef Manuel Domínguez, who is the executive chef of a Lúa in Madrid, is from Galacia and his cuisine incorporates food from his roots. In fact, he blends traditional cooking he learned from his grandmother with modern techniques he has acquired from his culinary training. Lúa is one of only a handful of restaurants in Madrid to have earned a coveted Michelin star.
I decided to dine at Lúa by myself on one of the evenings when Bryan was busy with a work dinner. I chose Lua because it was highly recommended, seemed like an amazing bargain, and was within walking distance of my hotel (~20 minute walk).
Lúa only serves a tasting menu that changes on a weekly basis based on seasonable ingredients. The tasting costs a very reasonable 60 € (remember, this includes all taxes and grauities!). Ordering became ridiculously easy: all I had to decide was whether I wanted some wine with the tasting. I could either order by the glass or get the pairing, which cost an addition 27 €.
I opted for a glass of their beautiful house wine (pictured below), an excellent wine made from a blend of five grapes. Had I known it only cost around 2 Euros a glass, I probably would have asked for several refills!
I started with some delicious house baked bread, olive oil, and a spherified olive.
Perhaps it's the influence of Ferran Adrià, the famous Spanish chef behind El Bulli, but I found spherified foods to be unusually prevalent in nicer restaurants in Madrid. A lot of restaurants had "molecular gastronomy" (or what Ferran Adria called "deconstructivist") elements in their dishes.
The first real course was a tiny pastry filled with cheese and pear, served with jelly and a nutty topping (maybe ground pistachios). It was excellent - a lovely bite that was both sweet and salty.
The next course started with a scoop (or technically, a "quenelle") of papaya ice cream topped with fish roe.
The server then poured pureed celeriac soup over the ice cream (!). Again, it was a creative and well-executed interplay between sweet and savory elements.
I loved this next course. Out came a tiny 1-inch cube of smoked miso marinated salmon served with chili carne and a phenomenal eggplant sauce. The eggplant sauce was quite tart, like it was marinated in lemon or something. The tartness balanced out the miso very nicely. The salmon was also super tender - seared on the outside but still rare on inside. All in all, it was an outstanding dish.
The next course consisted of cured mackerel (it was still rare in texture) served with spherified olives, pomegranate seeds, salmon roe, pickled vegetables. It was a very good dish, full of familiar flavors.
Next came a pan-fried block of risotto topped with thinly sliced scallops, micro greens, and a creamy sauce. It was a rich dish but had nice flavors.
The first main course, served at room temperature, consisted of sliced octopus served in a green tomato and strawberry sauce. The octopus was cooked properly and the sauce definitely had elements of tartness. However, I found this dish to be a bit weird, and it wasn't one of my favorites. Although everything was executed perfectly, I just did not love the flavor combinations.
My last savory course was a suckling pig "taco" made with a homemade tortilla and topped with pickled onions. Although there were some offal notes (which I typically do not like), all in all I found that the dish to have very nice rich flavors with just enough heat to give the dish a kick. They gave me a fork and knife, but I found it easier to eat with my hands.
The first dessert was a tangerine sorbet topped with coconut mousse. I loved it! It reminded me of a creamsicle but with a much more sophisticated "orange" flavor.
According to the server, this next dessert was a typical Galacian dessert. Like panna cotta in texture, the "custard" is actually a soft cheese (sort of like marscapone) served with one raspberry, one blueberry, and a sour tiny berry (sort of like a cranberry). A tiny mint leaf and a violet sugar shell completed the elegant dish.
I really enjoyed the sauce that accompanied the dish, which was fragrantly floral yet tart like a berry at the same time. It went nicely with the creamy custard-like cheese.
Finally, the server brought over some marzipan, chocolate, and a cookie filled with nuts and rolled in cinnamon sugar.
All in all I had a wonderful meal at Lúa. I think Chef Domínguez is extremely talented and really creative with his dishes. Execution was flawless, and I had a great experience. I liked how the decor, ambiance, and overall feel of the restaurant was relaxed (not fussy!), while at the same time it was quite clear that the kitchen was very "fussy" about the food quality.
I think this meal is a steal for 60 Euros, especially considering how many courses actually came out (closer to 10!).
I still regret not splurging for that second glass of wine, considering how delicious and reasonably priced it was.
If I ever come to Madrid, I will most definitely bring Bryan here. I highly recommend it - it's definitely one of my favorite restaurants from this Madrid trip!
Paseo de Eduardo Dato, 5, 28010 Madrid