Madrid is one of my favourite European cities and in my eyes too frequently overlooked. At the end of September (2013) we flew to Madrid for a long weekend and on the Friday were treated to a lunch at the lovely Relais & Chateaux Hotel Orfila. It surpassed all expectations and was a fantastic start to what was to be a brilliant city Break.
Through work I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of this boutique hotel and afterwards Rob and I gratefully accepted a complimentary lunch at their restaurant. Relais & Chateaux hotels are known for being of an excellent standard, having character (no chains) and – most importantly – amazing food. So we were much looking forward to lunch. And it did not disappoint.
Since the weather was not its standard sunny self we couldn’t eat outside on the lovely terrace, so instead ate in their light and airy restaurant. We were the only ones there for most of it (probably because we had lunch at 12:30, which is very early for Madrid standards), so it really felt like a private dining experience.
The service was impeccable and we were handed a rather large a la carte menu. After long deliberation we asked the waiter for his recommendations and went for those.
What I love about seriously good restaurants is the amuse bouches you get served. Unexpected and delicate, we were served a chic version of the very Spanish ‘patatas bravas’ and secondly a superb eel mousse in a lime shell.
My favourite part of the lunch were the starters. I’ve never had this before, but the waiter recommended we shared two starters and instead of bringing out both starters and scooping half of one dish onto your plate, they prepared two plates each for us. It felt like the courses were never ending. The scallops were melt in your mouth delicious.
By the time the main course had arrived my appetite was sated but the food continued to be so good that I easily finished off my delicious braised steak with truffle (and also tried Rob’s grouse with oats).
We were seriously impressed by all the food and the beautiful presentation and very grateful to Hotel Orfila for such a delightful lunch.
The only downside is that it set the bar high in terms of food for the rest of the weekend…!
Calle Orfila, 6, 28010 Madrid, Spain
The restaurant at Hotel Orfila is open to non-guests.