Vi-Cool by Sergi Arola
Emer McLean enjoys a meal in one of Madrid’s modern gastro fairs, whipped up by one of Spain’s coolest chefs, Sergi Arola
Madrid Gastrofestival is an annual event and over the past few years I had always intended to go but never managed to make it..…so this year when I saw the notice in e-news I decided to take time to look at the website and book something. There were so many events and special menus on offer it was difficult to decide what to do. As I missed the opportunity to visit Sergi Arola´s restaurant Gastro a few months ago I was delighted to see Vi-Cool, his more informal eatery, participating in the festival with 25€ menu and decided to try it out.
Sergi Arola has been the holder of two Michelin stars since 2002 and has restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, São Paulo (Brazil) and Santiago (Chile). Vi-Cool opened in 2011 and is situated close to the Plaza de Santa Ana in Calle de las Huertas.
I went for lunch on a Saturday afternoon with my 7-year-old son. We sat at a table in the bar area at the entrance level. The décor is contemporary with concrete floors and giant black and white photo murals on the walls, depicting market stalls selling various types of chillies and vegetables. Frank Sinatra crooned in the background and with every table occupied the restaurant was buzzing. We were greeted and seated by a very friendly front-of- house man who continued to look after us, stopping now and again for a chat and asking how the food was. He and the other staff went out of their way to talk to my son and practice some English with him – he, of course, loved all the attention!
I had the special 25€ menu for the Gastrofestival and my son had the 150g hamburger. The menu consisted of seven small plates of popular dishes in the restaurant and each one was described by the waiting staff:
- Tostada with tomato
- Thinly sliced Portobello mushrooms marinated in truffle oil served with freshly grated parmesan and toasted.
- Smoked/charred aubergine with balsamic vinegar, pinenuts and green olives – this was like a babaganoush with an amazing smoky taste.
- Tasty mini meatballs with chimichurri sauce and goats cheese fondue.
- Patatas bravas Arola – these were to die for! 4 bite-sized crispy cylinders of potato filled with bravas sauce and topped with a blob of alioli….I could have eaten 10!
- Deep fried chicken wings with three sauces – crispy coating, tender meat and delicious mildly spiced sauces.
- A rich and smooth dark chocolate fondue served with fresh fruit.
The hamburger was served with lettuce, tomato, mature cheddar and crispy onions with a side of potato wedges (crispy on the outside with a sprinkling of sweet paprika and fluffy on the inside).
The restaurant has a full menu, with pizzas a speciality, and a tapas tasting menu for 20€. From Monday to Friday at lunchtime they also have a Menu del Día for 12,90€. Reservations can be made through www. eltenedor.es and occasionally there are good discounts for the a la carte menu.
Lunch at Vi-Cool was a very pleasant experience and I wouldn´t hesitate to go back and try some of the other dishes on the menu. My photos don’t do it justice so check out the website where you can see the photo gallery of food plus the full menu and learn a bit more about Sergi Arola, www.vi-cool.com. Also in English!
Calle de las Huertas, 12
Tel: 91 429 49 13
Opening Hours Every day 13:00 – 16:00 and 20:00 – 00:00
Gastrofestival 2014 finished on February 9th – Has anyone else experiences to share?