This is the sixth post in the series Hola Madrid! Exploring Spain's Incredible Food. Other posts include StreetXO Madrid, Lua Madrid, Viridiana, Madrid, Terraza del Casino - 2 Michelin Stars, and Ultramarinos Quintin Madrid.
Dining at Ramon Freixa is an intimate experience. The entire restaurant only has seven tables. Chef Ramon Freixa, the Catalan chef-owner, is pretty much always there, and will likely serve you at least some dishes.
Dining at Ramon Freixa is also an extravagant experience. The dishes are intricate, creative, and cutting edge. Each course is both a visual piece of art as well as a gustatory adventure. The restaurant boasts two Michelin stars (one of only four restaurants in the city to have two stars).
I decided to come here based on Bryan's strong recommendation. Bryan had come by himself during his first visit to Madrid. The hotel at which he was staying, Principal Madrid, had a relationship with the restaurant where hotel guests could get 20% off their bill. Bryan loved it, raved about it, and told me I should definitely go.
So, I came solo. They gave me a corner seat where I could sit quietly and observe the rest of the room. I ordered the tasting menu, and then the fascinating show began.
The server poured me a sherry-like white wine to pair with the initial bites, which I would call "snack" courses. The first bite was an edible, transparent cone-shaped "bag" filled with crunchy dried whole baby shrimp (you can see their eyes!).
It was really good! I just had to get over the fact that I was eating dozens of baby shrimp, whole. It was sort of like the most intensely flavored, umami-filled pile of shrimp crackers you've ever had.
A smooth dark gray pebble on a spoon appeared. In reality, it was a chocolate "stone" filled with a creamy, peanut flavored liquid inside. Definitely eat it in one bite, otherwise things get messy!
The next course looked like the world's smallest sandwich. In fact, the "bread" was made of something else, maybe egg white to give it that airy texture.
Next, a bowl arrived topped with a scallop shell and a single scallop dumpling in a deeply flavorful oyster sauce. The server poured some water, and voila! Smoke streamed out in magnificent fashion.
Next, the server brought over a tiny little wooden board with a clothespin-fastened piece of paper on top. He unclipped it, revealing a mini tosta (thin cracker) topped with an intense tomato paste and several slices of cured salami. It reminded me of pan con tomate, but executed with different textures.
Frankly, I found it a bit too salty and preferred a traditional pan con tomate (though this cracker was pretty cool).
The next course, simple called "Crisp" reminded me a bit of the Japanese takoyaki, or octopus balls. This fried ball was topped with a tiny deep fried squid of sorts (or I think it's a squid . . . hrmmmmm) and a sheet of lardon.
Next came the fanciest croqueta I've ever had. This breaded and deep fried ball was a bit sweet in flavor but also had a burst of briny olive. Perhaps the inside is spherified. I really have no idea, but all I can say is that the flavors were excellent. The gold on top was just for show.
Two of the breads, the butter bread and the seed bread, are baked at Chef Freixa's father's place in Catalonia.
The next course was sort of like an herb-green dumpling topped with flower petals and filled with a flavorful mushroom broth inside.
The flavors were very good, though a bit too salty on their own (but perfect when paired with the white wine).
This next course was one of my favorites. The blended seafood soup was magnificent, full of intense flavors from all the seafood that went into it. The shrimp served in the soup was super soft, barely cooked. The peas and pea tendrils emphasized the seasonality of the early summer.
On the side served separately was the deep fried shrimp legs and body (!). This reminds me of Japanese tempura places, which always deep fry the head and legs separately.
The next dish consisted of smoked eel covered with some sort of rice-like covering. Underneath sat potato "noodles" tossed in a dark sauce, almost like hoisin or oyster sauce. The champagne paired with this course was needed to balance out the rich intense dark sauce.
I was quite full at this point. The final course was a turbot served with an oysterd cream sauce. It was good but did not make me go wow. I enjoyed the perfectly cooked,crunchy fried "crispies" sprinkled throughout to add texture. There was also a tart fruit-based sauce, fresh baby frise, and spherified balls of what tasted like chick pea soup inside.
Dessert was another meal in and of itself! First came a place of fresh fruits, pate fruit, and chocolate truffles.
Interesting berry that I've never had before.
The twist with these chocolate truffles?
They are filled with boozy milk - yum!
Ramon Freixa's interpretation of "Apple Pie" was unique. Upon opening the lid, fragrant smoke wafted out. Inside, a smoking wooden stick had to be removed before you could eat the dessert, which consisted of circular shortbread cookies (the "crust") and apple slices.
The "Mille Fieulle" was very crunchy and quite sweet. The dessert consisted of cream layered between sugar "sheets", served with ice cream.
Finally, a single spoonful of a mild ice cream and a candied cherry.
At the end, I enjoyed some more chocolate truffles and tiny baked madeleines (chocolate and vanilla) with my coffee.
The tray of pebble-shaped chocolates was really good. I epecially enjoyed the little ones, which tasted like chocolate covered pop rocks. Some of the chocolates were quite tart, which was really fun.
GENERAL THOUGHTS ON RAMON FREIXA MADRID
In general, I enjoyed my meal at Ramon Freixa. Not every course was a slam dunk, but enough of them were really interesting and enjoyable that I still highly recommend the restaurant. My favorites would definitely be some of the unique "snacks" at the beginning, the excellent seafood stew, and the fun chocolates at the end.
I do recommend trying to eat later if you can (especially if you are dining solo like me!). I booked a 1:30PM lunch reservation, and felt quite alone and a bit awkward in the restaurant by myself with all the servers just trying to serve me. Most people in Madrid don't really start eating lunch until close to 3PM, so it's a bit lonely the first hour when you're in such a tiny restaurant. Having said that, service was super fast at the beginning of my meal. By the time everyone else showed up, it had slowed a bit, and at the end it took 20-25 minutes just for me to get them to give me my check (I had to ask twice).
Ramon Freixa Madrid
Claudio Coello 67, 28001