Saturday 20 August 2011

Senzone – Granada

On our last night in Granada we had discussed an evening at our hotel sat on the balcony with just some nibbles, until my wife uttered those familiar words, "Let's eat out." Followed by the less familiar, "I'll pay."

Jumping back onto the iPad and the Michelin App, I found an interesting entry for a hotel restaurant called ‘Senzone’ that the trusty guide stated serves cuisine 'à la mode' in 'a contemporary layout' with 'carefully prepared dishes.' A further bit of Googleage revealed that the restaurant is housed in the Five Star Hotel, Hospes Palacio de los Patos. We jumped into our poshest frocks (a cool linen ensemble for myself) and then into a taxi.

On arrival at the hotel, we were buzzed through the electronic gates of the charming former aristocrats villa and noted that the restaurant was located in a modern, marble clad building alongside. We descended the few steps into an oasis of calm. Glimmering water gently bubbled and foliage flowed from large terracotta pots and hung from vines, creating welcome shade from the late evening sun.  

Inside, the sleek contemporary bar area with modish white leather stools looked a great place to enjoy a pre or post meal cocktail. The adjoining restaurant area with its modern Georgian style chairs in white with silver upholstery continued the modernist theme. We chose to enjoy our meal outside on the terrace, the sound of the water being so relaxing.

An award winning restaurant, (finalist in the prestigious “Restaurant Revelation of the Year” Award at the Madrid Fusion Summit in 2007), Senzone offers an interesting and varied menu with innovative interpretations on national and regional favourites, with an emphasis on local products - the ‘Gastronomical Caviar Degustation’ showcasing the excellent organic produce from nearby Riofrío. Having snacked and eaten for most of the day, we decided to go a la carte, (saving the celebration of caviar for a return visit.)

To get the show on the road, the usual bowl of olives soon arrived, this time, accompanied by the less usual squid ink crackers.

Next up, as an amuse bouche, a refreshing bowl of Salmorejo – although similar to the more common gazpacho, this recipe from Córdoba produces a thicker soup and uses just tomatoes, bread, oil, vinegar and garlic with a garnish of Serrano ham.

My wife’s choice of starter was,  Cous-cous con melon y vinagreta de frutos rojos – a simple, yet tasty dish featuring beautifully diced cubes of melon with the sharp ‘red fruits’ vinaigrette.

Featuring two of my favourite ingredients, spider crab and artichokes, I was really looking forward to my starter, Arroz de centollo y alcachofas. Served in a bowl made from a hollowed out spiny spider crab shell, it certainly looked impressive. One taste of the cheesy rice studded with pieces of sweet crab meat and artichoke and I was smitten. I’ve always loved artichokes and have been successfully growing them at home for the past couple of years, this dish got me thinking about the possibilities of getting a tank and raising my own spider crabs but with a minimum EU landing size of 120cm and an average size of 1.5m the possibility of making this starter at home is obviously a nonstarter!

My wife’s next course was, Nuestra lata de caviar (caviar de Riofrío, quisquillas, crema agria de coliflor y blinis de alga) – roughly translated as ‘our way of caviar’ the thin seaweed blinis being the perfect vehicle for the fine creamy Per Sé caviar from Riofrío, accompanied by a carpaccio of prawns and a creamy cauliflower sauce. My wife stated this is one of the finest dishes she has eaten, ever!

My next course was, Chopitos de Motril, ñoquis de tinta y alioli – a visually striking plate of food, starring gorgeous baby squids from nearby Motril (coastal town of the Granada province), cooked with their ink sacks intact. The ‘gnocchi’ also contained squid ink, although with a crispy shell and light chewy centre, the texture of these was more similar to a macaron than gnocchi; they tasted delightful all the same. A vibrant green parsley oil and dramatic swipe of red pepper sauce completed the stunning dish.

Translating as, ‘veal sirloin with mushroom risotto’, Solomillo de ternera y risotto de setas was my wife’s choice of main - she said it was tasty enough but didn’t seem wowed.

My main was, Bacalao con tomate “a la andaluza” y polenta al vino oloroso – another vibrant dish with the parsley oil and a rich tomato sauce ‘Andalusian style’, contrasting with the lightly poached brilliant white of the codfish. The neat block of polenta enhanced with sweet wine was a great accompaniment.

For dessert, my wife opted for the intriguingly named, Nuestro combinado de moda or “our trendy cocktail’ – based on a mojito, without the alcohol, it was essentially a combination of mint and lime sorbets and granitas. Very refreshing.

My dessert was simply called, Chocolate en diferentes texturas – you can’t go wrong with chocolate served in different textures! The main constituents being a white chocolate ‘cannelloni’ with a rich chocolate mouse in the centre and an indulgent warm white chocolate ‘soup’. Delicious!

A magnificent meal to end a fabulous week in Granada – next time we are in the city we will definitely go back to try the ‘Gastronomical Caviar’ menu and will be looking out for the Hospes Hotels and Senzone Restaurants in other Spanish cities. 

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