Toledo has a lot to offer, both touristically and historically. The city is full of legends and each corner holds hundreds of years of adventures and experiences from three different cultures. These are the reasons that encourage thousands of visitors to choose Toledo as their holiday destination, but they are not the only ones. Toledo’s gastronomy is also a plus point that is usually key when it comes to deciding for our city. Toledo, which in 2016 held the title of Spanish Gastronomic Capital, has a large number of restaurants in its streets where you can enjoy incredible dishes at a good price. This culinary exquisiteness is not only limited to the city of Toledo but to the whole province; this is how in Talavera de la Reina we can find one of the restaurants that has caused great expectation in recent months.
This is the restaurant Raíces, which is run by chef Carlos Maldonado. For those who do not know it, say that this young Toledo became the winner of the third edition of the Masterchef program held in 2015. The television talent of culinary dyes, which in its American version has led its contestants to cook in places as emblematic as the Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, hegemonic capital until recently of the game, was the springboard that Maldonado used to make the leap from absolute anonymity to the national gastronomic panorama. Thanks to his continuous visits to Masterchef’s set in subsequent editions, including the celebration of his wedding banquet, his popularity has grown, something that has undoubtedly had a positive impact on the visibility of his restaurant and his own career as a chef. Raíces, which is the name of the restaurant, is the materialised dream of the Toledano, a restaurant that makes reference to the land where he was born and to its gastronomy and offers dishes in which his personality and feelings can be appreciated. Some elaborations that mix avant-garde techniques without forgetting tradition, all this seasoned by the punk cuisine that characterizes the talaverano.
The place located in the street Ronda del Cañillo number 3, next to the river Tagus, is a small but cozy place that houses space for a total of 32 diners. The thirty people who usually fill the place can enjoy a variety of foods thought as large tapas and not as dishes in themselves. The idea that Chef Maldonado had in mind when he opened the doors of Raíces in July 2017 was not to offer menus but small, large dishes. However, it seems that the idea has evolved and now you can enjoy a total of three menus: the day, tasting or Grand Menu. The first of them is available for a modest price of 29 euros and consists of a creamy brain with tamarind, daily legumes, croquettes of old clothes, salted horse mackerel with white garlic of lettuce and pickles, pink cod, pork cheekbone stew and smoked and death for dessert chocolate.
The tasting menu amounts to 45 euros and is divided into four zones: Zona Tradición, which includes all the dishes of the daily menu except dessert and adding to the list a bite of cow matured for 72 days. Zona Street, where diners can enjoy the novel squid sandwich that earned Maldonado victory in Masterchef, and a brioche cheek burger and pickled red cabbage. The Essence Zone has a pink cod with asparagus pil and green curry and pork sirloin with velouté of peppers and smoke. The Zona Dulce, the dessert zone, offers the possibility of enjoying seasonal fruit with rum and ice cream or the traditional chocolate death cake.
The third menu, the Grand Menu, is around 55 euros and has the same dishes as the tasting menu, except that adding a couple of dishes to some of the zones. Thus, in the Zona Street, the squid sandwich and the brioche hamburger are joined by a Moroccan lamb with Ras al hanout and in the Zona Esencia a big-headed policeman with beet cous-cus and seafood broth with a Vietnamese base is included in the Zona Esencia.
In addition to the menus and the concept of “big cover” in Raíces, there are also the plates, which are in accordance with the product being worked with. An example of this is the casserole in which the stews are served, which is the same one in which they have been cooked. Another characteristic of the restaurant is that some of the dishes are served unfinished, in such a way that it is the clients themselves who put on the chef’s jacket for a few minutes to add the final touch to their dishes.
Raíces is positioned as an essential restaurant to get to know the best flavours of the province of Toledo, cooked under the new avant-garde techniques and the punk and personal spirit of its chef. An incomparable gastronomic experience in less than an hour that you can not miss if you come to visit the city.
Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels