October 3, 2018
The new Coque has well and truly settled into its new home in Madrid. At the helm are the Sandoval brothers: Rafael is in charge of the wine cellar, Juan Diego runs the front of house, and Mario, of course, is responsible for the culinary offer. Each one boasts a National Gastronomy Prize in their respective fields. The three are at the head of a Coque that is now even more finely tuned.
Mario has been able to keep the menu in the spirit of the restaurant’s first era when it was located in Humanes, modernizing it in light of the new trends that encompass the cuisine of the 21st century, bringing his own knowledge and refinement, his creativity and personality to the creation of his dishes. When it comes to his food, nothing is left to chance; everything is agreed by the trio, his creations are imbued with meaning, and there is reasoning behind them.
Mario began cooking when he was very young. He studied at the Hospitality and Catering School of Madrid, and from there worked in the best kitchens in the capital, in Barcelona and the Basque country. His is a signature cuisine that can surprise even the biggest sceptic.
His dishes are outstanding thanks to the top-quality produce Mario uses; he works sensibly and with common sense, with concise and precise cooking times ensuring that flavours are highlighted and textures are maintained.
When you enter this new Coque, you enter a magical world. In each of the spaces you pass though you succumb to an enchantment that surprises; the same subtlety and ingeniousness found in his food is adapted to each of the stops along the journey you take:
In the Bar, you are offered a Bloody-Mary ice cream, and a black-sesame, guacamole and foie-gras taco. In the Wine Cellar, enjoy bread treated with wine served with bull sausage (“Vinificación de Pan con Embutido de Toro”); and a paprika maccherone with creamy cheese. In the Sacristy, a Dom Perignon champagne grape, and a mimosa cocktail crispy cloud. The last appetizers are enjoyed in the Kitchen; Casimiro Mahou wheat beer, char-grilled sea cucumber with glass prawn and freeze-dried Spanish omelette.
Everything embodies this cook’s personality. And then, you proceed to the tasting menu which journeys through each of his interests, innovations and influences: white prawn served with its fried head and Palo Cortado pearls; a porcini stew with rocoto pil-pil sauce (a piquancy that conveys freshness), pine nuts and elvers Bilbao-style; piquant seeds with vegetable kimchi and organic shoots...
The ever-present modernity and skill shine in the foie gras with Oloroso escabeche with pickled mango and crispy spring-chicken skin; in the line-caught baby octopus and squid in its ink with a tikka masala sauce and pickles; in the toro tuna in three sequences – tuna belly with piparra pepper, tuna bone marrow with caviar, and glazed tuna back cheek; and in the sea urchin roe with tripe stew Madrid-style and bean purée with green curry.
And to end, of course, his great contemporary classic dish: roasted, lacquered suckling pig with crispy skin and osmotized lettuce.
By García Mocholi