It may not be as formal or stuffy as other Two-Star Michelin restaurants, but Madrid’s Dstage is cooking some of Spain’s most innovative and gastronomic food. In fact, it was my favourite meal there, and I dare to call Chef Diego Guerrero a genius. Located at Calle de Regueros 8, Dstage was named by the chef’s mother, standing for days to smell, taste, amaze, grow and enjoy. This Michelin Starred restaurant is bringing together flavours from Spain, Mexico, Japan and Thailand. Chef Diego, has quite the pedigree, training in the Three-Star restaurant Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, and Goizeko Kabi in Madrid, and then he had a good gig going when he headed up the cooking at the famed El Club Allard and garnered Two Michelin Stars there. But, he felt stifled by the traditional Spanish cuisine, which was too fussy and formal. He resigned and started to travel to research new cuisines for his up and coming restaurant in the Salesas neighbourhood.
It is a casual restaurant, you can wear jeans here if you wish. The space occupies 300 square meters, spanning two floors. The lower floor is used for cooking classes, events and private dining, and a wine cellar.
The meal is a special interactive experience. You begin with a snack at the bar, a razor clam with celery dashi and almond milk, then, you move to the open kitchen, which is actually part of the dining room. You saddle up to the counter, talk with one of the chefs, and if you are lucky, you will get Chef Diego, who is hands-on throughout your entire meal. There they made us a king prawn ceviche on a slab of salt rock. When they poured on some olive oil, they actually incorporated some of the salt into the seafood. They added herbs and sauce, and you saw the whole creation. From there you are seated. You are given the choice of a twelve, fourteen or seventeen-course meal. We chose the fourteen-course. For this type of meal, the prices were quite modest. The twelve-course was 90 Euros, the fourteen-course was 120 Euros and the seventeen-course was 148 Euros. They ask you if you have any allergies and then you leave it all in their capable hands.
The chef had just completed a trip to Thailand which inspired him and we had several appetizers from that region. Except they were better than anything I ever had in Thailand. Then we moved on to a crayfish dish, a blood sausage with young leeks, an amazing crispy pork bun served in a plastic pig head, and sitting on a bed of deep-fried pork rinds. Then a salmon barbell and seaweed butter, a hake with bay eels and the butcher’s cut – the most fork-tender wagyu style meat from Chile. An intermezzo was next – served on a block of ice – it was a watermelon and fermented beetroot ice shaped to look like a lotus leaf.
Each dish is beautifully presented and served on unique tableware. Every ingredient is beautifully contrasted and packs a serious amount of flavour in a perfect balance. He used meticulous techniques to create one of my most memorable dining experiences.
There were several desserts to follow and the last one was shaped like a garlic sitting on a bed of cookie type crumbs. It was actually a meringue with a paste inside that looked like garlic paste and actually had an unexpected essence of garlic.
The chef is so personable and humble – he comes out to greet each guest and schmooze. He has trained his staff to be friendly and they are all very knowledgeable about each and every ingredient. They were wearing jeans, running shoes and aprons. There are seats for 42 guests and the staff is about 35-40 people, almost a 1 to 1 ratio. American music was playing in the background and I loved his selection.
Chef Diego may be cooking haute cuisine, with cutting-edge techniques, but the feel is very unpretentious, even though there are extraordinarily high and exacting standards in the kitchen. There was a great interplay of tastes and textures. With the kitchen being part of the dining room, details that are normally behind the scenes are now within reach of the guests. We immensely enjoyed this exquisite journey from beginning to end, and it is an experience we won’t soon forget.