Santceloni is a fairly large elegant restaurant located in the Hesperia Hotel in Madrid. Large tables are spread out to give privacy to the guests and make service easy for the large number of staff. The sparkler cart arrives as soon as you settle into your seat and the house Cava was not a bad buy at 11 euros a glass. The menu contains a number of a la carte items as well as a tasting menu with optional wine pairings. We chose the tasting menu and our own bottle of white wine from the massive wine list. The sommelier helped pick a glass of red wine to accompany the one meat dish and gave us a complimentary glass of dessert wine to go with the sweets. The wine storage is located off to one side of the room and is quite impressive.
The room is modern yet warm and crowned with a large window looking into the kitchen and the many staff in there. It was a good show. There is a smoking room to the side which is glassed off, and with the large array of cigars in the display case, I would imagine it gets used a lot. It is a classic 2 star Michelin place with some added touches of lovely amenities in the bathroom for freshening up after the meal. Service was helpful, friendly (but not overly so) and they all spoke great English.
Tables are quickly served a number of amuse bouche, white and wheat breads and a bowl of their own olive oil. The breads continued to come and were varied with the dishes served. All the snacks were nice, some better than others but the crispy skin with cauliflower dots was the only one that stood out in memory.
The tasting started with noodles made from squid and combined with beet and yuzu. It was quite tasty and a beautiful color made even more stunning by the dark bowl.
The bit of pork with caviar was outstanding. It was a lick the bowl dish.
The grouper was marinated and served with ginger foam and smoked apple. The fish was totally fresh and really good but the smoked apple was what elevated this dish to a winning level.
The chicken was served in thin slices rolled into an “o” shape and served on some crispy skin. The relish was amazing – this dish really sang and had the most delightful aftertaste.
The smoked ricotta ravioli were open instead of the traditional closed packages. They were full of a yummy cream in the bottom and topped with caviar. Talk about lick-your-plate, this was a home run. The smokiness just added to the succulence on this flavor explosion. Wow!
The crayfish seemed more like langoustine and may have been a translation issue. It was served on a green leaf and it was suggested you roll and eat it. The lettuce added a little crunch and was actually an important component instead of just a vehicle to get it into your mouth. It was really good. Another winner. Around now they introduced the tomato bread which was wonderful. It came with a slice of rye which paled in comparison.
The sautéed mushrooms were served with codfish and ham. Lots of different kinds of mushrooms were used and it was very nice.
The red mullet was served with moist scrambled eggs and crispy bread crumbs. The fish and crumbs were reddish but not spicy. The fish had a quite mild taste even if you ate the skin and brown portions. All combined there was some lovely textural contrasts and good flavors. Another good one.
The last savory was the veal knuckle which was brought to the table before trimming (that we could watch through the window). They sauced it at the table with the same glaze that it had been coated with in the kitchen. It was served with creamy mashed potatoes which also blended well with the sticky, viscous sauce. This was a total flavor explosion. The meat had been roasted a long time, not cooked in a sous vide, which was obvious by its roasted flavor. This dish has always been on the menu and you can see why. It is a yum x3!
The cheese cart is next and it is covered with a ton of choices. The waiter was nice enough to pick a selection of Spanish cheeses from soft to hard and mild to strong. It was served with a fruit bread but I would have liked a bit of honey or jam to further enhance the cheese.
The palate cleanser was an apple and celery slush with a juiced bit of green strawberries and covered with an apple cookie. There was also a sweetened pink strawberry that tasted like it had a white chocolate coating. It was a nice taste of apple overall but would only rate a nice as it didn’t have the flavor content of the previous dishes.
The fennel panna cotta was served at the same time as the chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream. The latter was my favorite of these two. It was scrumptious.
A selection of Petit Fours finished the meal along with a needed cup of coffee. The puff was filled with ginger cream and sugar topping. The chocolate covered marshmallow was okay. The small ‘taco’ shape was filled with a sweet cream and was really good as was the nougat bar. The long chocolate was filled with peanut butter cream and was a perfect ending for an outstanding meal.