35 years ago this chronicler arrived for the first time in the small Catalan town of Sant Celoni, in the Vallès oriental, to eat at a rural restaurant, the Racó de Can Fabes, which was much talked about and had just obtained its first Michelin star. After a magnificent lunch, with a traditional base, a lightened technique and always at the service of the product and the resonantly fresh flavor, the Madrid chronicler greeted the chef and patron, Santi Santamaría, and predicted: "I think that one day you will be the first restaurant in Catalonia to obtain the third star". "Thank you, Pythoness!" replied Santamaria, laughing. And, things of life, is what happened in 1994.

Already from that first visit was born a friendship truncated too soon by the premature death of Santi in Singapore, in 2011, but the memory continues and continues the school of natural cooking and freshness that in his day, 15 years ago, caused a national controversy when in his book La cocina al desnudo he denounced the full entry of technology and additives in molecular or techno-emotional cuisineof his colleague Ferran Adrià, then on the cusp of fame... but that would end up closing El Bulli, also in 2011. Three decades ago, madness was spherifications, airs, deconstruction, liquid nitrogen... And Santamaria responded: "I defend fresh products, natural products and reject the abusive and unnecessary use of gelling agents, thickeners, emulsifiers, colorants, antioxidants and flavor enhancers."

Many sided with Adrià – an enormous talent, no doubt, but with constant and obsessive invention would end up in a dead end – and Santamaría continued his path towards the purity and freshness of natural and seasonal products. And the people of Madrid had since 2000 an embassy of his, the Santceloni, at the Hesperia Hotel, with two Michelin stars, where he sent a team of his best collaborators: directing the room, Abel Valverde; sommelier, David Robledo; head chef, Óscar Velasco; chief pastry chef, Montse Abellá. One of the very large tables in Madrid. Óscar and Montse met in Racó, and today they are also a couple in life.

The strange way in which the Hesperia took advantage of the pandemic to close the restaurant and offer the premises to other tenants – Dani García, in the end – without saying anything to the Santceloni team has been a sad episode and difficult to understand. Soon the room professionals were relocated, Valverde in the new Since 1911 of Pescaderías Coruñesas and Robledo in the Ambivium of the Ribera del Duero. We did not know anything about Óscar and Montse until they happily opened, all in white tones of purity, their VelascoAbellà.

The school of freshness and naturalness, of local products at their best, is still alive and vibrant in a short menu – there is a menu that includes much of that menu – which has allowed us, in the first of what will undoubtedly be more visits, to see the evolution of the cuisine of Oscar and Montse in that sense of delicacy and flavor. By the way, also a wine list full of surprises such as the magnificent Cadiz red wine by Luis Pérez, Tintilla Balbaina 2020.

The parade without reproach and with pleasure (there are also half portions of everything), after a few small amuse gueule to enter the spirit: marinated and roasted mackerel, cauliflower and green apple jelly; garlic white shrimp with broken fried egg and potatoes; smoked tender onions, octopus, grapefruit and almonds; sea bass with roasted sweet potato and mustard in red wine; Baked Arturo Sánchez Iberian pork dam with avocado and red onion, mint and cilantro. And the desserts of Montse: Casar cake with red fruits, caramelized olives and mint; Dark chocolate mousse with olive oil, hazelnuts and brandy.

Mackerel, shrimp, octopus, sea bass and that porcine roast beef that is the Iberian prey, all made very lightly and with all their taste, surpass the most successful spherification. It is nature treated by delicate hands. Another great debut in Madrid.

More information about VelascoAbellà

  • Victor Andres Belaúnde, 25
    • 91 566 97 40
  • Opening hours: Closed on Sundays
    • Official Website: https://velascoabella.com/

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