First Taste: Sergi Arola Gastro

Sergi Arola Gastro

If you are male, the first thing you should know about Sergi Arola’s new place is that jackets are required. If you are female (and straight), the first thing you should know is that quite possibly the best-looking bartender in Madrid works at the restaurant’s cocktail lounge. And that pretty much sums up Sergi Arola Gastro: a little more formal than you might expect, but very, very hot.

Despite Arola’s vast empire (which used to include Madrid’s two-Michelin-starred La Broche), this is the first restaurant that the Adrià-trained rocker-turned-chef has actually owned, and his temperament—serious, sexy, a little intense—determines everything from that jackets-only rule to his decision to do away with à la carte ordering (the restaurant offers three prix fixe menus).

Arola’s sensibility is most clearly on display, however, in a few ardent dishes: a plump row of charred sardines, drizzled with the garlicky Mallorcan sausage called sobresada and set atop a stack of verdant haricots; a lush scallop showered with truffle shavings and swimming in a caramel-y “vichyssoise” made from a type of Catalan onion called calçot; a bit of rosy, tender venison dredged in Moroccan spices and dotted with chestnuts and apples.

Desserts—carrots with cream; a chocolate sphere that cracks open to ooze saffron—aren’t up to par, and two days into the restaurant’s opening, service was exhaustingly slow. But the combination of buzzy intimacy and serious food make Gastro the kind of place madrileños are going to love.

Sergi Arola Gastro c/Zurbano 31, Madrid (+34 91 308 7240)

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