MADRID
I’ve been impressed by the cutting-edge creativity of the chefs in Spain, which isn’t surprising given the influence of the great Chef Ferran Adria. The meals I’ve tried in Madrid and Barcelona have ranged from mind-blowing to refined comfort.

Lua Restaurante, helmed by another young chef, Manuel Dominguez Carrete, falls somewhere in between.

In a quiet neighborhood called Chamberi, Lua is a handsome restaurant that makes a nice setting for a celebratory meal (there’s even a large private dining room downstairs). I treated my sister and niece to lunch here because I thought it’d be a nice break from the shopping and sightseeing.

The sophisticated dining room at Lua (top) and a starter tray of chips, nuts and olives (bottom)

Lua serves only a five-course tasting menu, and at lunch it’s 49 euros (or $61) per person. The combination of creativity and classic Spanish dishes was evident from the beginning with a trio of small bites of a cherry tomato, grape and shot of beer.

But things weren’t exactly as they seemed. The cherry tomato was made of cheese, the grape a spherical liquid globe, and the beer was a gelatin of garlic and almond.

Molecular gastronomy only went so far, though. The rest of the dinner resembled the classic farm-to-table approach to cooking that’s popular in California. A beautiful gazpacho of peaches was served up with beetroot with butterfish and salmon roe, and a skate wing fish dish highlighted touches of Spanish flavors with sprinkling of paprika and fresh peas.

Gazpacho (a popular Spanish cold soup) is made with peaches and served with beetroot, marinated butterfish, salmon roe and seaweed

My niece got to try her first tartare when Chef Carrete sent out his classic appetizer made with Wagyu beef. She enjoyed the slight spicy wasabi flavor that coated the fresh minced meat topped with chile threads. (A touch of molecular gastronomy was represented in the green chile that topped the tartare. It was actually a tiny carrot encased in green-colored cheese.)

I regret that I told the server that I have an aversion to raw beef, so the kitchen cooked up my Wagyu beef, which still tasted rich and savory but I know some of you out there are probably upset about me forcing the chef to cook such quality beef.

Other parts of the meal were beautifully plated but simple, like the pork confit that was served with the traditional flavors of prune and apricots, and a dessert of passion fruit sponge cake with raspberry sauce (although the cheese ice cream added a new twist).

The service was incredibly helpful and friendly, and the young hostess who spoke English did a masterful job of introducing each dish as it arrived, translating the chef’s creations and helping our table to really appreciate each dish.

Lua feels like an oasis off the beaten track, providing a calming space to celebrate and enjoy sophisticated and refined dishes with traditional Spanish flavors.

Rating: 3 out of 4 camera snaps

 

 

Lua Restaurante, Paseo de Eduardo Dato, 5, Madrid. PH: (34) 91.395.28.53. Major credit cards, reservations accepted. Metro: Iglesia. www.restaurantelua.com

A starter tray of cherry tomato, grape and shot of beer isn’t what it seems.

I loved the Spanish detailing above the entrance

Lunch at Lua provides a lovely respite from sightseeing

Wagyu beef tartare with wasabi and sesame cracker (top) and my plate with the tartare cooked up (bottom)

Skate wing fish dish with paprika, green rice, celery and seaweed

Pig confit with apple sauce, apricot and prune

Passion fruit sponge cake with raspberry sauce and cheese ice cream

4 Responses to Creative Interpretations of Classic Spanish Dishes

  1. Row says:

    Beautiful! I love how the chef struck a nice balance between molecular gastronomy and farm-to-table. That gazpacho of peaches looks wonderful. Was it on the sweet side?

    • Ben Ben says:

      The peach gazpacho actually wasn’t very sweet. In fact, the beetroot added some slight sweetness, and then it was countered with the seaweed that added some pickling flavor. Very well balanced, IMHO.

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    That faux beer and cheese plate is so clever and fun. Next time you go to Spain, I’m hiding in your suitcase for the ride. 😉