On telling people in Madrid that I was going to this place, I was met with the same response each time… “Wow!” or the Spanish equivalent.
It seems that every person not only knows about it, but also holds it as a national treasure. This place is to Madrid what Dame Judy Dench is to Londoners, known by all but seen in real life by a very lucky few.
I am of course talking about the impeccable 2 Michelin star El Club Allard, under the guidance of the exceptional Maria Marte.
So, what makes this place so esteemed? Well its grandeur hits you the moment you walk in. The high ceilings, the sporadic marble columns and the thing that is now on my furniture-goals list… Those. Gold. Chandeliers. (Not kidding)
It also has 2 michelin stars that speak for themselves, but more than that… The meal (in my case, all 12 courses) is theatrical, imaginative and creative.
We arrived at our seats to “business card” place settings. Surely for mementos right? Wrong.
They were in fact edible and designed to be eaten with our pre starter of delicious Caramelised Onion soup. More than impressive.
… 10 minutes in… I am sold.
First, was Sea Popcorn with quinoa and sea urchin essence. If you are apprehensive with urchin, I would suggest that you have a word with yourself as it can be great. This also looked great with the cream in a mini pipette .
Next was a surprising contender for my heart… a shot of Butterfish and white asparagus with caviar bruschetta. One of my guests loves butter fish (I mean, she is almost solely leading the PR trail for the fish itself) but even those on the table that are not such fans agreed that this was delicious.
The next dish gets my monogrammed stamp for favourite dish. The sensational Egg and truffle cupcake. Yes, ok, it is largely because it contains truffle and egg (you know how I feel about those), but also its presentation. If aesthetically pleasing had a textbook picture, then this would be it.
The Cabbage Cream and cockles with lemon. This had a very rich, decadent flavour with a little cockle treat at the bottom of this soup.
Next was the Sea Rice. I really enjoyed this dish, though I understand the reluctance of seafood dabblers. Instinctively, you expect a “Risotto” to be rich, creamy and sweet, where this is respectably punchy with a bold flavour of seafood and seaweed crisps… I mean, its in the name people.
In keeping with the theatrics, I loved the next dish of Grilled duck with corn on a little grill. The baby sweetcorn was in fact corn mash, shaped (painstakingly I imagine) to re-resemble its imitation. Impressive stuff.
After the meaty duck, we had a perfectly cooked Sea Bass with Suyu No Moto. I love sea bass and this was Light and fresh.
Then was the Shoulder of baby lamb with okra and gnocchi date. Now, I am never sure about Okra, but it worked well with the tender lamb. The stars were the gnocchi dates, which were a sweet match for the lamb.
Now moving into dessert, we started with the Hibiscus Flower Pisco Sour… I mean, I love a pisco sour at the best of times and so this for me was fabulous and very nicely presented.
I know what you’re thinking … There’s more? Yes… Pull yourself together.
Next was the Pear pineapple which was almost a palate cleanser and then the Chocolate rocks which were essentially like aeros for grown ups. Yes.
“How would you top this 12 part production” I hear you ask? The answer is with an edible working Blackboard. Yes my friends, you can actually write with the chalk, erase(ish) with the erasers and eat everything on the board.
So, what makes this place stand out as a Madrid institution for the world to savour? Everything. It delivers on the food, the wine and most of all in the show and I would gladly see an encore performance.
El Club Allard – Calle de Ferraz, 2, Bajo derecha, 28008 Madrid, Spain