Fans of Formula I remember well the signature of journalist Manuel Franco, who for several years was the great specialist of the newspaper As in car racing and, after two decades in journalism, radically changed profession in 2018 to become owner and chef of a restaurant with great culinary ambitions, logically attracting the attention of the media that discovered -as was collected a couple of years ago in EL MUNDO- that it had been his youngest daughter, complaining because her father spent up to 200 days a year traveling, who convinced him to leave everything and return to his native Valdemorillo and become a hotelier.
The story of this tirelessly hardworking man who, despite covering careers around the world, found time to publish several books, is completed with another surprising detail: he also found it to complete a course at the Cordon Bleu school, which was his only culinary experience before launching, spending all his savings, into public catering.
But there was a latent fondness in him, because another Manolo, his father, had run since the 60s of the last century the busiest bar in his town, Casa Manolo. And what his son did was to recover and restore the old family premises, converted into a fine and pleasant restaurant, with a modern decoration respecting the rustic mountain building. And from day one, aware of his lack of practical experience, he surrounded himself with a small team of brilliant young chefs, but already experts. So from Casa Manolo we have gone to La Casa de Manolo Franco, already distinguished with a sun in the Repsol guide and whose patron does not hide his ambition to also achieve the Michelin rosette. It was necessary to know live this story of professional change and brilliant success.
Journalistic trips had familiarized Manuel with exotic cuisines and fusions that include elements of them and today dominate the gastronomic landscape. Formula 1 is held in Spain, France, Italy, Great Britain... but also in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan. In his restaurant he uses fine exotic touches but is based on modernized and transformed mountain traditions, as well as products from his environment, with an abundance of herbs and fruits that may give a slightly sweet touch to his dishes. But what matters is its delicacy and precision: in one of the two longest menus of the three it offers, and you can not order a la carte, -all of them change every season, and there are still the summer ones- just a very slight excess in the cooking time of a sea bass did not reach the perfection of everything else.
The long menus (one at 69 and another at 95 euros) include -after the welcome with homemade vermouth and things like a rosemary macaron with olive cream- sections called breakfast, walk in the countryside, aperitif, lunch, snack, dinner, evening chat ... The humor is evident, as is the enhancement of local products: the bread of Las Navas del Marqués with black pudding and a melted butter with fried egg; the watermelon gazpacho and mousse de fresh cheese from Fresnedillas with herbs from Valmayor...
What is not transformed is the great Iberian ham croquette "from Grandma Pepa": the recipe of Manuel's mother. Everything else has its wink, like summer thyme, with ajoblanco and a cantueso soup. The bloody mary serrano is a tomato brioche with semi-dried tomato and basil ice cream. The magnificent roast local veal, very little done, arrives perfumed with oak smoke and accompanied by a large rice.
The enumeration of all the dishes is impossible, let alone detail the varied wine list, even with a Garnacha Alicante from Curii in addition to those from Gredos. An experience that must be lived. This is a launched bolide, like Verstappen's.
More information about La Casa de Manolo Franco
- The Fountain, 6
- 603 66 24 94
- Opening hours: Closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and in the evening on Thursdays and Sundays
- Official Website: https://www.restaurantelacasadevaldemorillo.es/
According to the criteria of The Trust Project