When it comes to Chinese restaurants and food in Madrid, they usually do not get much credit : Cheap and you know what is on the menu before you have entered the place.

Now, think different for Asia Gallery: Its inside the Westin Palace Hotel, one of the more representative hotels in Madrid center, now owned by Starwood Hotels. The Hotel itself is very old-school decorative 4-5 star, so not really my style, but Asia Gallery, one of their eateries inside is a nice surprise. Decorated in a very early last century chinese style with a mighty lantern occupying the center of the room, this restaurant may only sit around 60-70 people.

We got a 22:45 table, as it was well booked on the Friday evening and had Tempura, Dim Sum (very recommendable), Canonese Duck and some Oyster Sauce sliced veal. Accompanying our dinner was a 2004 Orot Crianza for healthy 26 Euros.

Food: Excellent were the Dim Sum served on some kind of a mustard sauce and also the duck. Veal and tempura pretty normal

Service: Generally good, they were sometimes a bit slow with the re-filling of the wine, but food service and the invitation for a “copa” on the house was nice.

Points: 8 out of 10

Asia Gallery @ Westin Website

Asia Gallery, Plaza de las Cortes, 7, 28014 Madrid, Spain

Phone: 91 360 00 49

Ok, myself I have to admit that I am usually not a great fan of Italian culture, maybe this is the upbringing in Switzerland and having to fight always with the Italian boys for the Swiss girls (and typically losing to them) or whatever.

Nevertheless, this is a little pearl of a restaurant in in the Chueca area of Madrid, with real Italian waiters saying “Buona Sera” and a decoration that makes you go nostalgic for Cinecittà movies and the good old times of Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. I have been already a couple of times there, as usually reserve your table (they have two rounds one at 21.00 and the second starting at 23.00) as this one gets full. The menu is what you expect from an Italian place and they have a decent Barolo for a good price, too. I usually have the Mozzarella di Bufala as a starter (I think they get them fresh every Thursday) and then one of the tasty pastas or pizzas…

Points: 8 out of 10

Trattoria Pulcinella, Calle de Regueros, 7, 28220 Madrid
Phone: 913 197 363‎

Spending a Saturday night in February out close to Madrid, forgetting about stress at work and other not so nice things, this is the place you want to come.

It took us a bit to find the place, as there are many other Cigarrales (type of Toledo Ranch/Finca), but finally after moving up from Toledo in direction to one of my favorite Golf Courses in Layos, we found it. Its a bit like hotel, a bit like wedding place and currently they only open for Groups, Weddings and special events like Valentine’s Weekend. We got one of the smaller rooms close to the main building, but the rooms are very carefully and beautifully designed, the bed, the walls, the decorations all fitting nicely and perfectly for a very romantic getaway.

The lady at the reception was extremely nice and we felt welcome from minute one. No forced friendliness, or bad customer orientation as unfortunately often found in Spain. The owners are couple from the US and Spain and you can also see some of that influence in the decoration and designs (in a very good way).

We had dinner over in one of the other buildings, which was tasty with some interesting meals and wine combinations. Right now they don’t offer a lot of activities, but you can walk around the Cigarral itself, which is good for about 3o-40 minutes, or you just head down to Toledo, which is about 5 minutes by car. They told us that they may add more things, like a pool etc. so this will eventually turn into a real boutique hotel. The only minus points I have to give was that at arrival, although the room was generally very clean, the cleaning lady must have missed the toilet. I assume this was a human mistake and not really an overall quality problem with the Cigarral. The other one was that part of the area is still under construction (although they are not building while the hotel is open) so some parts still do not look perfect (others do)

Definitely recommended and we will head back there in Spring or Fall this year. Rooms (with dinner & breakfast for 2) are around 290€ , but can go up to 700€ if you like to have a private jacuzzi…..

Points: 9 out of 10

http://www.cigarraldelasmercedes.com

El Cigarral de las Mercedes, Crta. Piedrabuena n72, 45004 – Toledo (España)
Teléfono: 925 25 20 64

http://www.airedesevilla.com/

On a Friday night, we did the 2 hour Arabic Bath tour with a 30 minute massage included. Cost 54€ per person.

What do you get? Well, I have to say, it is quite a cool experience with a strange mix of being in a very almost labyrinth part of town, in a very old, but beautifully renovated house and some rather modern assets like the code lockers, which i haven’t even seen in the best gyms of Madrid.

You start the tour upstairs after payment waiting to get into the locker rooms where you change into your swim trunks and meet up with your friends/partners in a type of waiting hall , which represents the center room of all the different baths that are to be visited. Some of the baths are quite modern, but the walls and ceilings are the original ones, so you soon start to immerse into this ancient vibe of the place. One highlight for me was the massage, which this incredible music, that was played while this girl was giving me the back rub (think relax more than an actual sports massage). The other highlight was the biggest bath with this incredible arabic lantern that thrones in the main room.

Conclusion: Highly recommended place to go, once you are finished and you get out back into the old town, it almost feels as if the temporary time travel has still not come to an end….go and find yourself some of those famous tapas places to fill your stomach

Points: 9 out of 10

Another funky looking restaurant was the goal of a visit among friends. After some already strange encounters with visually top and foodwise flop restaurants, I hoped for a better experience this time.

Here the experience:

1) They let us wait 1hr for a table on a Friday evening (ok, this can happen, but they told us 20mins….)

2) Food was mediocre: My friend had duck noodles (Noodles al pato), and I had the beef (Solomillo al cuadrado)

3) Visually the place is good, you can see the kitchen and the chinese cooks preparing the handcrafted noodles, which in itself really is a good show

All in all prices are a bit over the top, for what the place has to offer and as unfortunately in many restaurants, the waiters are not very attentative….

Points: 6 out of 10

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