Fire, smoke and seduction in this booth that has only been open for 6 months
Dani García broke the bench on Tuesday at the presentation of the Michelin Guide 2022. In 2018, after receiving three stars for his restaurant in Marbella, he announced the closure of the project and his -apparent- distancing from the criteria of the red guide. However, yesterday it was shown that that is a back and forth path and his project Smoked Room (Madrid), a small private room for 14 people in which everything revolves around fire and smoke, took two! Stars in one go.
Quite a record considering that it has only been open for six months. How is it possible? At Cata Mayor we visited the restaurant in November and that day we were able to understand why this unprecedented event has occurred.
The first thing to say about Smoked Room is that it is a minimal part, the most special, within Leña, the other concept by Dani García at the Hyatt Regency Hesperia hotel in Madrid (yes, with a separate entrance). The space is accessed through a corridor that has something of an entrance to the Star Wars death star, with dim lighting in the form of light bars in the middle of a certain gloom: the perfect anteroom to create the necessary ‘mood’, such as it is said now; to get in modo Smoked Room.
Once inside, one can enjoy the experience on a table or in an amphitheater-style bar in which you sit on some very comfortable sofas, overlooking an open kitchen in which one can see in detail -what the eye does not see is rescued by a mirror in the upper part- what happens around a fire that it is the center of everything. Of course, the best option is to gain a place in that privileged bar.
In Smoked Room there is only one option, a tasting menu of 15 steps for 135 euros, because, after all, the concept drinks from the Japanese ‘omakase’, which literally means to put oneself in the hands of the chef. The pairing, as it usually happens, goes separately and is at 95 euros, a high but fair price, for the selection of ancient reds, surprising whites, rare fondillons and quality champagnes with which one can share the evening.
Massimiliano Delle Vedove is the chef in charge of a kitchen and dining room team that moves as if it were a ballet. Everything is visible and our eyes go behind every detail: how each product is tempered, how each proposal is plated & mldr; is authentic visual porn for anyone interested in knowing how haute cuisine works.
Wagyu, shrimp and barnacles
The first bite is already of a great quality, a contents con wagyu (A5, which indicates that it is a piece with the highest degree of fat infiltration) and grilled sea urchin, in which the sensitivity with which fire is used can already be seen.
At the same time an addictive man appears on the scene ‘Brioche ‘with butter with smoked Malaga avocado: difficult to stop with it once you start. But it will not be because of butter: it reappears in the next dish in the form of a noisette giving a unique texture to some trash from Motril that melt in your mouth. Follow some Bourguignon style grilled barnacles very delicate and surprising. Without realizing it, we have already put a foot and a half in the universe of fire designed by Dani García.
But there are also nods, how could it be otherwise, to Dani’s Andalusia. His version of the traditional smoked pot with a lot – a lot – caviar is spectacular. And we are witnessing the umpteenth reinvention of nitro tomato, this time in white thanks to the unctuous ajoblanco that falls like pure silk on the smoked eel. An old trick presented differently. The party continues with a glass in which the tomato water appears treated as if it were a ceviche along with smoked avocado cream and thin-shell mollusks. Refreshing and tasty.
From espardeñas to desserts
The espardeñas with green sisho pesto, Iberian gazpachuelo and fried panko: almost a marine carbonara, creamy and tremendous. The perfect prelude to the start of the main parade: start a pepper lobster, a version of the classic sirloin of a lifetime; it is followed by a viceroy reposado in the same place -the fish that mature are in sight- and a sea and mountain in the shape of duck and oyster meatball. In the end, the wagyu A5 with 34-year-old barrel-fermented soybeans: a madness barely close to the fire that melts on the palate. Blessed glory and the perfect circular closure to a menu in which all dishes are remarkably high up & mldr;
In desserts, the grill returns giving a delicious touch to a pumpkin mousse smoked which is refreshed with another tangerine in a delicious play of sweet, sour and smoky flavors. But Dani García always likes to finish off his menus with a perfect dessert for those with a sweet tooth and that is the tarta di rose and lots of vanilla, a nod to the same one that they make in Leña, just a couple of meters above & mldr;
In between, the fire has been exerting its hypnotic influence on us, the sommelier Luis Baselga has been coming and going with always correct recommendations and a young but perfect room team, moving between freshness, informality and skill, has been enriching the experience.
Did Dani García want to return to the Michelin sky with this new experiment? Who knows. What is clear is that when something is done so completely well, it is easy for the laurels to arrive. Right now, There is no more exciting restaurant -except DiverXO- in Madrid. Two deserved stars for a project so well thought out and oiled from the get-go that it seems like pure magic.