Among Madrid’s freshest eateries is Odds Restaurant, along the fashionable Calle de Serrano. The eatery’s décor and origins were detailed in this previous article.
This week: owner and maestro Ariel Toledano serves up a fusion style menu presented with gracious elegance.
Toledano, backed by his young chef Roberto Ariza began the evening with “pumpkin cream with Foie al PX.” The dish’s aromatic bloom hit our noses before the bowl was placed on the table. Each spoonful served up little surprises with the dish’s many notes, which included variations on orange. It was masterful, and I doubted how the upcoming plates could top it.
Toledano said he often uses oil––in this dish truffle oil––which he believes is healing and therapeutic. In any case, the pumpkin cream was a standout. Chef Ariza plans to make the pumpkin cream a regular winter dish, adding other variations on the main ingredient.
An interlude arrived: Jamon de Bellota, freshly cut by Jose, the maître d’, or “Jefe de sala,” Toledano explained. The jamon was delicious, having been sliced ultra thin just moments before.
Next: a tomato tartar wreathed by lime vinaigrette and topped with tuna belly. It was not special, but a nice, light break from the heartier pumpkin. It did seem more of a summer offering. We sampled just a few of the jamon croquettes, which normally arrive eight on a plate. Spaniards traditionally enjoy sharing courses––a good idea with the rich and tasty rolls.
More truffle oil was included in the ravioli with meat, stuck with a thyme sprig –– all bathed in a mushroom sauce and dusted with Parmesan. The truffle oil worked well in this dish as well, adding a deep, nearly haunting flavor.
Toledano has a theatrical yet genuine flair, and it’s clear he cares deeply about his customers: “This––it’s all about making people feel comfortable in my area, in my house.” Toledano has been enamored with food and presentation since he was a boy. “I’m the one who always set the table,” he explained. “And I’m the first in my family to enter the restaurant business.”
The owner also possesses a youthful sweep of vision for his enterprise, which he hopes to augment in the future. “To me everything is possible,” said Toledano during our early 8 p.m. dinner. Most Spaniards begin dining around 10 p.m., an hour that sees Odds packed with regulars and newcomers. Toledano relayed a story of a customer who arrived during his first few months of operation, asking, “Do you have cigars?” Toledano did not, but he secretly ran down the block and purchased some. Now the restaurant stocks cigars––thanks to the owner’s magnanimous nature.
Jose next served up beef cheek stew served over potato truffled cream and fried purple chips. The presentation, the colors: delightful. The meat fell apart with great delicacy, and the oil again dominated. Rich and hearty, it was a clear main dish, and a beautiful one for winter.
Another interlude arrived––this one cava (an Extremadura sorbet with Follador Prosecco.) The drink was the perfect palate cleanser between the richer beef cheek stew and the following dish: sea bass served over a black olive, anchovies and garlic tapenade, framed by miniature vegetables.
Our fear was that the complex tapenade would dominate and even overpower the main dish, but it worked wonderfully with the light, flaky sea bass––optimally-cooked. Befitting wine pairings included Marques de Vizhoja, and Otazu.
Dessert: homemade cheesecake with pistachio ice cream covered in a red berry sauce. The cake was nicely subtle, topped with a berry gelatin––the sweetest layer––that hovered over the cake, which had a welcome and heavy emphasis on cheese. The dish was dusted with confectionery sugar. The pistachio was intense––I termed it a “slam of pistachio” at the time, and my dining partner agreed. But it was a welcomed hit of flavor.
The evening concluded with a digestive: the traditional Orujo de Hierbas––a drink farmers once drank before early morning work in the fields––and now perfected for post meal enjoyment.
- Odds Restaurant, Calle de Serrano, 110, Madrid
- Reservations and directions.
- Odds Restaurant Facebook page.