It was one of the centers of power in Madrid. On its linen tablecloths, important political and business agreements were debated, including football, and until its last days, before having to close due to confinement, which led to the final closure last November, Zalacaín welcomed distinguished guests, to Hollywood stars, high society people, who were faithful to one of the so-called temples of Madrid cuisine. It was the first restaurant to have three Michelin stars in Spain. He got it in 198714 years after its opening in 1973, at the hands of its founders, Jesús Oyarbide and his wife Consuelo Apalategui, the same owners of another great in Madrid’s cuisine, Príncipe de Viana, closed in 2011.
In 1995, it was acquired by the real estate developer Luis García Cereceda, creator of La Finca, one of the most exclusive urbanizations in Spain. After her death in 2010, one of her daughters, Susana García Cereceda, took over the restaurant, and it was one of the most turbulent times in the restaurant, with the loss of the third Michelin star in the 2015 edition. Little by little the first swords of the house had been retiring: in 2006 the chef Benjamín Urdiain left, with the same silence as in his glory days, in 2010 the great diplomat José Jiménez Blas retired from the room, and in 2013 the sommelier and teacher of many disciples, Custodio López-Zamarra. A little later, in 2018, it was time for another reference in the room, Carmelo Pérez.
And from there the downhill came, which ended the pandemic: the company, with 50 employees on the payroll, filed a bankruptcy for Zalacaín and for Zalacaín La Finca at the end of 2020. After seven months closed, it has reopened its doors with new owners, the Urrechu group, made up of Manuel Marrón, founder in turn of the real estate company Gilmar, together with Jesús Gil Marín, his brother Tino Marrón, the chef Íñigo Urrechu and the businessman Antonio Menéndez. The first sensations invite optimism. “The phone does not stop ringing, from lifelong clients who want to come,” explains Manuel Marrón, who, very cautiously, assures that this is a long-term project. “It is a very nice challenge and we want to give the restaurant the shine it had.
The key, he points out, is none other than the team: the disciples of those teachers who made Zalacaín great, Jorge Losa, the chef, “who has been raised on Urdiain’s breasts,” the sommelier Raúl Revilla, who He replaced López-Zamarra, Roberto Jiménez, as the room manager, who has been working in the restaurant for 35 years. “They are three fundamental pillars, knowledgeable about the know-how of the house, and who know how to transmit that knowledge “, Marrón details, who warns that, at the moment, the restaurant does not have a website, since they want to go little by little, without rushing.
They also maintain some decorative hints from previous stages, such as the orange and gray tones, as well as some of the star dishes of the house, such as the Don Don Pío vase –In homage to Pío Baroja, to whom the place also owes its name, whose inauguration coincided with the centenary of the writer, for whom Oyarbide felt devotion–, a combination of consommé gelée. quail egg, smoked salmon and caviar (48 euros).
Another dish that remains is the Tellagorri cod –Character from the work of Baroja Zalacaín the adventurer– (32 euros), or the tripe, which rose, in the National Callus Contest with the first prize (32 euros). It has a tasting menu for 120 euros, a tour of the menu, which includes dishes such as the cut of foie gras with orange tile, the carabinero gazpacho, the hake taco, the Tellagorri cod or a veal cannelloni.
“Above all, we want Zalacaín to be a gastronomic experience, that the client comes to enjoy it, since here they can enjoy the disgorgement of a port, or see how crêpe Suzette is prepared in a room”, adds the businessman, who points out as a novelty the incorporation of a mixologist, Víctor Losada. Another strong point will be U-Zalacaín, the 4,000-square-meter space to hold corporate and social events.
The Urrechu Group has several restaurants in Madrid: La guisandera de Piñera, Urrechu Velázquez, Urrechu, in the Zoco de Pozuelo, El Zielo de Urrechu, A ‘Kangas, in La Moraleja; and in Marbella, By Urrechu, at the Don Pepe hotel.