Oh how life changes. One day he is one on the tatami of the judo olympic team, and the next day (as he says) he is among the first place in Madrid gastronomy. It’s a true story, it happened to Mario Valles, chef and creator of Hortensio, a restaurant that was born and destined to become a classic among the classics.
Of course, this story was much longer, much harder and, we imagine, much more satisfying as a result. It turns out that Mario, judoka in the Olympic team of Colombia (his homeland), was injured and had to leave the sport. he chose then to study cooking he did it thoroughly in Madrid, then in London with the group Terence Conran; in Paris, at the George V Hotel and at the Maison Blanche; and again in Spain, in El Celler de Can Roca and the restaurant of Koldo Rodero. Afterwards, he decided to fly alone and opened a restaurant in the always dynamic Chamberí that sees time go by without falling behind but without succumbing to fashions.
And it is that Hortensio’s kitchen is Mario’s, as well as personal. Of gala basis but with the spark of the earth that welcomes you, refined and delicious, sophisticated and, above all, respectful with the product and disciplined with the technique. It stands out for its hunting status, and it is true that it treats hunting like few others, but it is much more. To sample, the Red Mullet with Bisque de Roca, a spectacular dish not only for that bisque of lobster heads, powerful and delicious, but for the point of the red mullet, few touch it with that care. Or the smoked eggplant pastry with miso and pistachios, delicate, nice, well spiced, with a fine puff pastry and smoked to perfection.
Now, let’s talk about that hunt that places Hortensio among the best in the field. The first dish we tried is one of the hare elaborations that Mario practices when it is season. Tartar de hare with yuzu, with fresh meat cut with a knife, well dressed with a spicy point, and on it, a sorbet of yuzu and chips of tupinambo. Perfect to open your mouth and for any self-respecting carnivore to overtake the steak on the move and one step further.
Following the line of hunting, the grilled pigeon with mole and its juice is a classic of their kitchens. They serve the sliced and slightly marked, juicy, tasty breast, and the deboned thigh. And accompanying everything, a very fine cream of potato, well-intense mole and a casserole with the reduced juice of the pigeon itself. A dish that loses its manners in favor of dipping bread.
For dessert the Lulo Sorbet is perfect to clean the palate, very fresh, light and citrus. But if there is a gap, the Nougat Soufflé with passion fruit ice cream and white chocolate is a Gallic wink that puts the finishing touch to a sophisticated and at the same time warm meal. Exactly like the restaurant itself, which is elegant in general and at the same time cozy, when you look at the exposed brick, the wood, the different chairs or the fresh flowers. A transparent and luminous site, also figuratively, and to show its kitchen seen illuminated by a Sun of the Repsol Guide.
Calle del Marqués del Riscal, 5. 28010, Madrid.
Phone Number: 910 023 554
Horario: Monday through Saturday from 1:30-4 PM and 8:30 to 11:00 PM; Closed on Sundays
Average Price: 65-90 €.
Text: María G. Aguado
Photos: Nacho Alcalde Ruiz