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 it’s country and beyond.
Michelin Stars are not easy to come by and I truly enjoy restaurants that have achieved such honors. I am fortunate to have dined in several 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 has lost its 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 a full blown feast at Zalacain. I excitedly made a reservation for one during lunchtime on one of my free afternoons. Table for one, yes, 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 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
I always appreciate an Amuse-Bouche before an elegant meal. I actually love the surprise of it! When the server comes out and says “Compliments from the Chef”, places one or two divine morsels in front of you; it is a lovely and hospitable way to make you feel welcomed.
Bread – Pain – Pan
There is an understanding of bread being served on the table, it means simply “Breaking Bread”. The breaking of the bread is a symbol that everyone at the table is welcome to share a meal. Well since I was ‘everyone’ and the only one dining, I ate all of those delicious crunchy bread sticks!
During the course of the meal, the server made his rounds with a beautiful tray of assorted fresh bread. I decided on the dark bread which I have learned is the best type of bread in certain European countries. Whenever a dark bread is offered, I choose it for its heartiness and flavor.
La Caña – Albariño
Spanish White Wine
For my first wine pairing for both my exquisite Goose Foie courses, a delightful glass of La Caña, Albariño was selected by my server. 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
No lies, when I see foie on a menu, I feel a sense of exhilaration like being on an exciting fast ride. I scanned the list of starters and excitedly came to two foie dishes, my mind was blown. I ordered both!
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
My second starter with Goose Foie- I had so much of it at Zalacain Restaurante that I swore I grew feathers!
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
First of all, can you still see the legs on my wine? That wine, this perfect filet with a silver tray of potato souffléss were parts of my main course for lunch. I decided to go all out after my goose foie starters!
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!
I have been enjoying my beef medium rare since I was a teen and any other way would be a tragedy. Although I do enjoy steak tartare and do not mind my steaks a little bloody, please do not serve me a well cooked steak!
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.
This was the first time that I had delighted in pommes soufflées. 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, so 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! So 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 to 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. Perfecto!
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, so to me an Americano is just a longer version to sip one!
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 sinful pleasures, without any regrets. The creative flair of genius chefs showcasing their talents, 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 one table but my god, it was worth every ounce!
For restaurant information and reservations – Zalacain Restaurante
Salud- May your glass always be more than half full! 🍷
XOXO – Trixie
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📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property- Trixie Navarre