homemade artisanal food

Rustic Charm Outside Madrid

Paloma Clavet

There is no liquid nitrogen in sight, and you won’t find deconstructed plates at La Casita, only homemade, artisanal food prepared with lots of care.

Just twenty minutes north of Madrid, hidden in the mountain village of Torrelodones,we find La Casita, a charming restaurant nestled inside a rustic stone house surrounded by ancient trees. Entering is an invitation to linger.

LA CASITA RESTAURANT. Torrelodones, Madrid.

Warm wooden floors, wicker furniture, intimate lighting and a relaxed atmosphere define this place. Guests are always greeted with a wide smile, but the smart menu is the best welcome. Home made croquettes; foie “Mi cuit” with a light apple compote, or oriental beef with shitake mushrooms are just some of the delights in a menu that exudes creativity and love.

Javier Ripoll, co-owner of this family business, understands that the concept is very simple: “We specialize in Mediterranean cuisine based on high quality ingredients; we work to enhance the flavors and add a touch of innovation. We also maintain the typical Spanish fare.”

1. Arantxa Reca, co-owner. → 2. Javier Ripoll, co-owner; Gustavo Rodríguez, Maitre; Arantxa Reca, co-owner.

He espouses creativity, but doesn’t bother with the latest gastronomic technologies of the new generations. There is no liquid nitrogen in sight, and you won’t find deconstructed plates at La Casita, only homemade, artisanal food prepared with lots of care. The “carabinero” or “matanza” croquettes have become a classic first course. Diego, the current chef, is from Galicia and enjoys turning out delicacies form his homeland. His Betanzos omelets are unparalleled. Famous food critic Jose Penin, recently bestowed on him all kinds of praise from his Twitter account.

Steak Tartare, made from beef, salmon or tuna are some of the star dishes, prepared tableside from the best cuts of meat or fish. La Casita also offers magnificent fish, like the crispy sole rolls or cod-topped pisto Manchego. Some classics like beef tenderloin with onion confit and hearts of palm, or sauté “Iberian secret” strips ​​with vegetables make the delights of the lucky patrons.

LA CASITA RESTAURANT. Torrelodones, Madrid.

The wine philosophy is also a gift for the diner. There are over 300 labels that are continually updated. For the most exquisite palates, they have Vega Sicilia or Pingus. But the real challenge for the owners is the element of surprise. “What really pleases us is offering excellence at reasonable prices. In Spain there are wines in the 20 to 30 euro range that are spectacular. Names like “Habla”, a wine from Extremadura, Vìnculo de Valdepeñas, wines from Jumilla, Toro. There are a number of denominations of origin that didn’t have much prestige before, but now offer wines of extraordinary quality.” The conservation of wine in cellars, the correct refrigeration to serve them at the perfect temperature, the art of uncorking … wine is almost a religion in La Casita.

If you come, save room for the decadent desserts. “’La casita of chocolate’, the classic coulant adorned with a cream and apple tatin is the most popular. And in the summer, the ‘strawberry infusion’, a reduction obtained by removing the juice of about 20 kilos of strawberries, cooled and served with a scoop of mascarpone ice cream”, Ripoll says.

LA CASITA RESTAURANT. Torrelodones, Madrid.

At the end of a great meal, an after dinner drink is mandatory, and here the pousse-cafe has become an art. They have an extensive menu of malts, gins, and tonics that are combined with bold, daring flavors. Some of the cocktails look like fruit salads with hints of grapefruit, berries, nuts or lime. The Gin Tonic is a truth as a temple in this establishment, but Maitre Gustavo Rodriguez, says coming trends will launch vodka cocktails to new levels. Surely, they will be spectacular at La Casita because here they attend to every last detail. With any luck, we will be back soon to taste them.


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