Atrium remains in the Olympus of the gods of Spanish gastronomy with its two Michelin stars and it does so in the most difficult year for the sector. On Tuesday, in an emotional digital gala from the Real Casa de Correos, in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, the 2021 edition of the Red Guide was presented. In total, it includes the same 11 restaurants with three stars, 38 with two (three new) and 203 with one (21 new).
Regarding the loss of distinctions that affects seven restaurants in Spain and one in Portugal, beyond those corresponding to permanent closures, it has transpired that the star is withdrawn from Álbora (Madrid). Those that for various reasons have not yet reopened due to the pandemic appear with the notation “temporarily closed due to covid 19”.
The Michelin guide was created in France in 1900 by André Michelin. It was an advertising guide that was given away with the purchase of tires. Stars are born in the late 1920s. The definitions were introduced in 1936 and remain today: three stars indicate exceptional cuisine that in itself justifies the journey. Two indicate first-class quality in their type of cuisine. One designates a very good restaurant in its category. Having one or more stars means that a venue is not only one of the best in its country, but also one of the best in the world. About 2,000 establishments in all the countries covered by the guide have stars.
Yesterday, Jose Polo, co-owner of Atrio together with chef Toño Pérez, said that a few months ago they hoped to add the third star because “Atrio has been given a twist with a menu that is the lemon pear.” In February the judges attended, in July the director of Michelin Spain-Portugal returned. However, the pandemic imposed caution “and it is logical that they are very careful when awarding a third award because the future of restaurants is still hanging by a thread.”
In fact, Atrio closed in October. From November 14 it opens on weekends and from January 3 it will resume its activity at full capacity. The restaurant, inaugurated in the Plaza de los Maestros in 1986, got its first star in 1994, when they triumphed with their unforgettable shrimp bags.
In San Mateo
The second came in 2013, just two years after Toño Pérez and Jose Polo, after a rehabilitation project that lasted seven years, inaugurated their Relais & Chateaux in 2011 in Plaza de San Mateo, a five-star hotel with 9 rooms and 5 suites. located in what were two buildings located in the Plaza de San Mateo and Calle Condes, in the heart of the monumental city.
The restaurant, Alma de Atrio, has not ceased to preserve its culinary identity, it has a cellar that contains more than 35,000 bottles of wine from more than 20 different countries. Its menu highlights its caviar dewlap, a whole experience around the Iberian pig, with vegetables, fish, seafood.
If the Michelin stars want to be eternal they must be maintained and for this it is essential to take care of quality because at any time the guide can take them away. You can never lower the bar. That is why Atrio closed for a while, that is why it has about twenty of its 50 workers in erte, because if exclusivity falters, the risk is greater and for that distinction to be maintained there must be clients. Now they have some from New York who have been staying since December 3. They have dinner every day at the hotel and when Toño made them a potato omelette and a hake in green sauce they touched the clouds.
In these months, the hope nests in the cacereños businessmen. They trust the effectiveness of the vaccine, that perimeter closures become open cities because the coronavirus begins to waver. Those from Atrio are beginning to see a purely Extremaduran clientele grow and radiate optimism.
That is why since this month, and after a reform, they have embarked on a new adventure: that of Torre de Sande, the restaurant also located in the Plaza de San Mateo. “It has been very beautiful and everything very comfortable,” says Jose proudly as he recounts that there they have taken the Meneses silver cutlery and the white and gold Czech plates that they bought from their wrappers on the visit of Kings Juan Carlos and Sofía to Las Hurdes in 1998. Contained prices, menus for two for 70 euros that include three courses, a drink and a dessert … “It has been a return to the origins of Atrio”, confesses the hotelier. And all this without losing sight of his Josper oven, “which is like a Rolls Royce,” says Polo. It works only with charcoal »and the result of the meat is spectacular.
The icing that is missing from the Atrio cake is the opening of the historic Paredes-Saavedra palace, scheduled for next summer. A luxury hotel with 11 suites spread over its 1,500 meters. This historic property located on Calle Ancha, between the Plaza de San Mateo and the Puerta de Mérida, was built between the 15th and 16th centuries. The building presents different architectural styles, Mudejar and Gothic. On the façade, which will be preserved, the sgraffito that appears on one of the side windows and the coats of arms of the Paredes-Saavedra and Paredes-Golfín families stand out. The tower that Isabel la Católica ordered to topple and which has given the area “greater prominence” has also been restored.
“There will be no superior doubles”, because all rooms are superior. The smallest are 60 meters, all have two showers with solid oak cabinets, marble bathtubs at a price of 30,000 euros and taps valued at 2,000 euros the cheapest. “The building was very battered, it’s like when someone starts with botox and their face ends up crushed. The rehabilitation is looking incredible, “reveals Polo.
There you can see the vaults of the 14th century hall, its arches and doors that will be decorated with marbles, granites and mirrors by the Portuguese artist José Pedro Croft, advised by the director of the Reina Sofía Museum, Manuel Borja. The house will regain its nobility and dignity thanks to the project of Emilio Tuñón and Carlos Martínez Albornoz and the Placonsa company, “with masons who are doing their work with exceptional care.” All this will make Casa Paredes the most expensive and exclusive hotel in Spain and it will be nothing more and nothing less than in Cáceres. By the way, he will recover the Cartier tableware, acquired in the early days of Atrio; for something each small plate cost 16,000 pesetas and each large one, 40,000.