Terazza del Casino Madrid
This very well may be one of the most beautiful dining spots in the city of Madrid.
Perched on the rooftop of a building called Casino de Madrid is Terazza del Casino Madrid, a two-Michelin starred restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Paco Roncero. This elegant and beautiful al fresco dining experience is only available during the summer (when the sun sets at a glorious 11PM). The rest of the year you can still dine inside their beautiful indoor space.
Chef Roncero was a disciple of Ferran Adrià, the original gastronomic consultant for Terazza del Casino. Adrià pushed foward a style of cooking he called Deconstructivist. The concept is that you take a known dish, swap out various tastes and textures, and create a new dish that still preserves the essence of the original dish, but presents it in a new way. "Nothing is what it seems. The idea is to provoke, surprise and delight the diner."
Adrià's influence and approach to food is evident all throughout Chef Roncero's menu at Terazza del Casino. In fact, Chef Roncero refers to Terraza del Casino as the "el bulli of Madrid." Chef Roncero has set up his own food research laboratory called El Taller de La Terraza del Casino, located right next to the restaurant. Here that he experiments with new food ideas and concepts. Successful ideas move over the restaurant, where they appear on an ever-changing menu.
Chef Roncero has appeared on several television shows and has written several books. He owns many restaurants, such as several tapas bars in Madrid called Estado Puro, V.O. Versión Original in Bogota, Colombia, and VIEW62 in Hong Kong, the city's only rotating restaurant with views of the harbor and the city skyline.
We dined here in June on a glorious summer day when the sun didn't set until around 11PM. The weather was beautiful, and the long tasting menu was definitely a fascinating look at the type of modern cuisine that's hot all over Spain right now, largely due to the influence of Ferran Adrià.
Here is a detailed look at every single course of our loooooong 25+ course tasting menu!
We started with a Mojito Cocktail, a thin, sugar crust "cone" embedded with basil powder and filled with mojito whipped cream.
Our next bite was a Paprika Sunchoke Chip topped with a creamy and flavorful potato herb sauce.
Then an artfully prepared Tiradito (a small whole fish) appeared, complete with the spine pulled out and separately fried. Next to it sat a yellow pocket, which exploded with flavors of lime and herbs.
Chef Roncero is especially fascinated with olive oil and has researched it heavily, creating tasting menus exploring the ingredient. The first olive oil bite, an olive oil sphere, made use of spherification techniques to create a caviar-like ball (but much bigger!) filled with olive oil.
The next olive oil inspired course was this Olive Oil "Cheese".
A crack at the Parmesan skin revealed an olive oil custard and diced tomatoes underneath.
Continuing on the olive oil theme, a edible bag made with sugar arrived attached with tiny clothespins. Each bag came filled with olive oil. The oil was so peppery, we coughed upon taking a bite of the tiny bag.
The next course: yet another spherified ball on top of lime and a thin shaving of cheese.
Next, a lovely, creamy foie gras mixed with smoked eel and apples arrived. It was delicious, with a perfect balance of deep, rich umami from the eel and a sweet and crisp tartness from the apples.
The server then came tableside with a dewar full of liquid nitrogen. He proceeded to use the nitrogen to make frozen olive oil powder.
He elegantly shaved the powder on top of a tiny tomato tart, our next course.
The next course, called Margherita "Pizza" had all of the flavor elements you'd expect from a pizza, but delivered in a very different and surprising way.
The fresh mozzarella balls turned out be spherified balls filled with liquid mozzarella. These sat on top of a crispy cracker crust with basil and an essence of truffle.
Next a can of Caviar Butter arrived.
We ate it with small circles of brioche bread.
The next course looked like a peanut, but was actually a fake peanut. Instead, it was a thin peanut-shaped shell filled with coconut and curry flavors.
Our next bite consisted of jet black squid ink skin wrapped around shrimp paste and served with a baby shrimp on the outside. The flavors of seafood were intense, reminding me of the high quality shrimp flavored rice crackers from Japan.
The Deconstructivist theme continued. What looked like a simple caprese sandwich was actually a Gazpacho Sandwich. There was white "bread" made of airy meringue. The finely chopped "fresh tomatoes" were actually compressed vegetables (either tomatoes or red bell peppers). Finally, frozen olive oil "croutons" complete the sandwich, adding a crunch and a burst of unexpected olive oil flavors.
A stone bowl appeared next, filled with "Soup" of garlic, prawns, and almonds that looked more like snow.
As the sun began to set behind the tall buildings we moved onto our next course, Red Prawn Tartare. A thin layer of shrimp came laid on top of a pile of chopped up prawn meat underneath (like a typical tartare). There were flavors of ginger, seafood stock, and a strong umami.
The next course was very interesting and different. The server told us that we would receive a garden and that we would "harvest" our own vegetables. Inside the wooden box there was "dirt" made with breadcrumbs and black garlic sprinkled over a base made of creamed cauliflower and potato.
The flavors were delicious, but it was a large portion. We struggled to finish, noticing that other larger tables of 4 or more people received the same sized box. Essentially, we had received a double portion of this course.
By the time we finished this course, we were quite full. We thought we were near the end, but we were wrong. It appeared that we had just entered Stage 2 of the meal.
A basket of warm bread appeared out. It felt like we were starting over? Or just cleaning our palate.
The tasting menu moved onto more substantial courses. Our first course was an Iberico Pork Castanuela. The pork was very, very soft and had a slight offal-like flavor, reminding me of sweetbreads. It was served with a flavorful jus and some crispy fried small fish on top.
The next course was Turbot with mussels.
Next, we had cock's comb with kaffir lime and lemongrass. The comb itself had a gelatinous texture, and was served with a rich, flavorful sauce.
Our last savory course was a Rooster Roulade made with liver, served with shaved black truffles and a spicy orange colored sauce. It had an excellent rich mix of flavors, though it overpowered the black truffles.
The first dessert was deceptive. Called Poached Egg, it was actually sweet, consisting of a passion fruit sphere "yolk" and a kaffir lime flavored "white".
Next we enjoyed kumquat, tomato, and celery served with a bright rhubarb sauce.
Next, we enjoyed a masterpiece titled "Citrus in Different Textures". The dessert consisted of numerous elements of citrus (e.g., lime, lemon, yuzu,grapefruit) presented in different ways, such as in ice cream form, compressed, as a cake, a sphere, or a little dollop.
The last full dessert was simply called Chocolate Coffee & Milk, featuring the aforementioned flavors in the form of ice cream, sauce, frozen powders, and liquids presented as solids.
And if that wasn't enough dessert, we chose from a number of mignardises from the dessert cart - everything from macarons, flavored chocolates, and mini-cakes to doughnuts, nuts, and chocolate truffles.
General Thoughts - Terazza del Casino Madrid
Wow. What a meal. It was one of the longest tasting menus we'd ever done, with 25+ individual courses (not including all the mignardises from the dessert cart at the end!).
Paco Roncero is certainly creative and pushes the envelope on dishes, trying new ideas while also using several established ones (there was A LOT of spherification). Some of the more gimmicky ones, like making one type of food look like something else, was cute, but didn't necessarily means the flavors blew us away. Other ones, like his study of the different textures, flavors, and even temperatures of olive oil, was fascinating and really fun.
The Menu Degustacion, which is what we got, cost €148 (including tax and gratuity). Honestly, considering what type of restaurant this is and how much food you get, it's a really, really good value.
We did feel that the meal was too long and had way too much food. By the time we finished the "pick-your-own" garden course, we were basically knocked out. We really didn't feel like eating much after that. Having to eat another three main course type dishes plus several other desserts made the meal feel like a marathon at the end.
Yes, the chef was definitely having a lot of fun with the menu - maybe too much fun, at the expense of a nicely timed, well thought-out tasting experience.
If it weren't for the crazy length and volume of food, I actually really enjoyed the restaurant. We loved the first half of the meal (lots of really interesting, creative courses!), and it wasn't until we started feeling painfully full that the meal became less enjoyable.
In conclusion, I would still highly recommend a meal here. The outdoor terrace space is second-to-none, especially in the summer when the weather is really nice and the sun sets really late. The modern cuisine type dishes is fascinating, well-executed, and fun. It's definitely an authentic peek into the style of cuisine that Ferran Adrià made famous. If you've never had this type of food before, this is an interesting place to try it, because in one meal you'll see a variety of modern techniques executed on a number of different types of dishes.
Terazza del Casino Madrid
Calle de Alcalá, 17, 28014