Located in the heart of the Spanish capital, very close to Puerta del Sol, the city center, Lhardy restaurant impeccably retains the aristocratic essence of 19th century Madrid. Other historic Madrid restaurants: Casa Lucio and Casa Botín.
Lhardy opened its doors in 1839, during the reign of Isabel II of Bourbon. Its name was inspired by the famous Café Hardy form Paris’ Italians Boulevard, which became later Maison Dorée. Its owner, Emilio Huguenin, eventually adopted the name of his business and became Emilio Lhardy. It didn’t matter that a few decades before Spain had fought bravely to get oust the French invaders during the Napoleonic wars, because in those times haute cuisine with its distinction, magnificent tablecloths, fine glassware, excellent service and great food came exclusively from Paris.
During the Second Empire, the fondness for French fashion gave Lhardy the elegance that can still be appreciated in the design of its exterior facade, built with magnificent mahogany brought from Cuba. The interior decor – with two opposing counters, a mirror in the background and the opulent console that holds the bouilloire – remains intact, with the same floor plan created by the its designer Rafael Guerrero.
Much of the history of Spain has been plotted amidst the elegance of these walls, under its romantic lamps, and around these tables, which continue to deliver high gastronomy in a unique environment.
The dining rooms, with names like Elizabethan Hall, White Hall and Japanese Hall, still boast the original wallpaper, fireplaces, fittings and adornments praised by illustrious Spanish writers such as Azorín, Galdós and Ramón Gómez de la Serna. King Alfonso XIII, the grandfather of the current Spanish monarch, was a frequent incognito guest at Lhardy during the early years of the 20th century. Here, he would meet with friends and important figures of Madrid’s elite. Time seems to have stopped inside this classic establishment, witness to political crises, where coups were hatched and secret and torrid Royal love affairs took place.
This year Lhardy celebrates its 175th anniversary with its usual aristocratic and intellectual penchant. Milagros Novo and Javier Pagola preserve its legacy and care for every detail to elevate and maintain the cuisine at the highest level as it has been throughout the history of this House.
At Lhardy, everything is paramount, from table settings to the presentation of the dishes, and this diplomatic virtue extends to addressing the individual taste and demands of its guests. The menu has been updated with a broad choice of international cuisine while maintaining proverbial dishes such as the cocido and tripe a la madrilène, the quintessence of Madrid´s gastronomy, favorites of the Kings of Spain, foreign diplomats and the general public. ■