A gastronomic icon of Madrid since 1973, Zalacain Restaurante has been a legendary dining establishment for decades. By 1987, they received the highly coveted Three Michelin Stars after earning their first star shortly after they opened fourteen years prior. Zalacain became the first restaurant in Spain to accomplish this top recognition, making them a culinary legend in its country and beyond.
Michelin Stars are not easy to come by, and I certainly enjoy restaurants that have achieved such honors. I am fortunate to have dined in many Michelin stared and recognized restaurants throughout the United States and abroad. Those gastronomic memories have been priceless. Additionally, I do enjoy dining at a restaurant that have lost their stars, but still holds a high reputation of excellence. Zalacain was one of those restaurants. Although they have sadly lost their stars, this legendary eatery still holds onto one of the best restaurant reputations in Europe.
🍽 Zalacain has been recognized in Michelin’s Guidebook for: The Michelin Plate and Extremely Comfortable Restaurant
I could not leave my first visit to Madrid without experiencing an over the top feast at Zalacain. I excitedly made a reservation for one during lunchtime on one of my free afternoons. Yes, table for one. I was traveling solo, and I do like to treat myself while I am on holiday. You should never wait to do something, or eat somewhere special if it is just you. Remember that you are your own best company!
Traveling solo to foreign soil, dining at an upscale restaurant by myself, and speaking in broken Spanglish was how I rolled when lunching at Zalacain. I have done this time and time again in different countries, speaking with my American accent ,and have never given it a second thought. My experience at Zalacain as a solo diner was phenomenal, and I was well taken care of from start to finish.
I also met a couple members of Zalacin’s profesional team Carmen Gonzalez who is the Director of Operations, as well as Susana Garcia-Cereceda. Both ladies were pure boss babes, and very welcoming. They approached me, were curious on who I was, and gave me recommendations for my visit to Toledo the following day. Perks of being a female solo traveler.
As for the dining experience, it was truly exceptional. My server did not speak a lot of English, but that was fine. He knew exactly what I was ordering, with help of my finger pointing at the menu. He was knowledgeable of the wine in-house, and was wonderful at pairing during the different courses.
When I looked back at my food and wine photos, I could not believe how much I consumed at Zalacain! I have no regrets, everything from the Amuse-Bouche to my final shot of espresso was tremendous. I would do it again in a heartbeat. ❤
On the Table
Bread – Pain – Pan
La Caña – Albariño
Spanish White Wine
Paired with Goose Foie Terrine, and Goose Foie Ravioli.
Although light in color, this lovely wine had a nice citrus aroma and taste. The flavors paired well savor tastes of the foie dishes.
La Caña is a Spanish Botique winery located in the village of Sisan Ribadumia , which is close to the Atlantic Ocean.
Goose Foie Terrine
Mango Foam and Acid Apple Sauce
The Foie Terrine was luxurious in both taste and presentation. This fatty goose liver was both devilish and heavenly when spread on all those little toasts. The plating was superb, and colorful with a ring of edible flowers and fanciful fruit- beautiful!
Stuffed with Mushroom, Truffle and Goose Foie
Abadia de San Quirce – Crianza
Spanish Red Wine
For the second wine pairing, a very palatable glass of Crianza was chosen to accompany my medium rare fillet.
A Crianza wine is a red wine that has spent one year aging in oak barrels. This dark wine with beautiful legs, was a wonderful choice with the heartiness of my main course, considering the wine was full bodied and bold.
Steak and Potatoes Elevated
Center of Fillet in Tender Garlic Sauce
This center of fillet was tender and perfect. It was an excellent cut of beef that was served with a flavorful brown garlic sauce. I typically do not order a steak, but I do in circumstances like this when I know it will be extraordinary.
The pommes soufflées were an excellent accompaniment to my fillet as the were not heavy. They were light and airy on the inside with a crispy texture on the outside. Fifteen little potato soufflées were lined up on a white laced paper doily, and served on a footed silver tray. It was an impressionable display of detail in service.
These little pillows are potatoes that are fried twice. The second time of frying after they are cooled, the potatoes will balloon and turn golden brown.
Taylor’s Select Reserve Port
I love a hearty bold port after dinner, and sometimes before. It is not uncommon these days to drink a port as an aperitif, rather than the traditional after dinner wine with chocolate. This delicious glass of Taylor Select Port was classic in every way. I have sipped this port before, and I was familiar with it. When I saw Taylor’s Select on Zalacain’s wine menu, I knew I had to have a glass sometime during my luxurious lunch.
This dark red port is bold and full bodied with lovely layers of fruit flavors. I found it nice with a chocolatey dessert, which is what I had for my last ordered course.
Fluid Chocolate Rose
Pistachio Moss and “Ruby” Ice Cream
On Zalacain’s dessert menu, there were about nine heavenly sounding dishes. I had asked my server for a suggestion, and he asked if I enjoyed chocolate. Well of course I do, and he brought me this lovely rose chocolate fluid cake, with pistachio moss growing around it. The presentation was very attractive and clever, I almost admired it too much to eat it.
Once I cut into that sweet rose, rich melted chocolate flowed out. It was delightful! The warmness of the melted chocolate with the sweet cake, and cold temperature of the ice cream was dreamy.
Along with my glass of port, I somehow added this bold cup of Americano with my rose cake. One of my favorite coffee drinks are Americanos, due to the richness of the flavor compared to a regular cup of brewed coffee. I love espressos, and to me an Americano is just a longer version to sip.
Espresso and Special Sweets
After my cup of Americano, I let my meal set for awhile. Then I was given my after dinner caffe, which was a stiff shot of espresso. There is nothing better than ending your meal with the bitter bite of a black espresso. It is one thing that I love when companioned with a plate of special sweets.
To make my second dessert stomach even fuller, I was given several plates of sweets that accompanied my espresso. There was a variety of peanut ladened bites that I thoroughly enjoyed. As I had mentioned earlier, I cannot believe how much I ate and drank at Zalacain!
An exquisite meal such as what I had at Zalacain Restaurante, was more than just food on the table. It was a dining experience or a feast for the gastronomes. Experiences like this will always be one of my life’s pleasures, without any regrets. The creative flair of genius chefs who showcase their talents, with expert wine pairing of regional wines, and a restaurant’s generous hospitality that can span for a couple of hours, will always be time well spent. I may have gained a few pounds grazing at this table, but my God it was worth every ounce!
For restaurant information and reservations – Zalacain Restaurante
Life is uncertain, eat dessert first…– Ernestine Ulmer
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📸 All photos are taken by me, and are my intellectual property- Trixie Navarre