Sunday brunch in Madrid – El Jardin at the Intercontinental
When you travel in Asia, it seems every five-star hotel and beyond has a champagne brunch on Sundays. When looking to do a Sunday brunch in Madrid, all signs pointed to El Jardin at the Intercontinental hotel.
Of course given it’s Spain, the bubbles of choice were not champagne, but a rather delicious natural Cava from Catalunya. A fine drop.
This is a rather large room with an outdoor terrace. Not wanting our appetites to be literally ‘smoked away’ we laid claim to a table for two on one side of the central buffet area, next to the hotel’s foyer bar.
And off we went. Brunches are, well, pretty much like lunches in Spain – they don’t get going until 1.30pm so we were ravenous by then. The offering was fairly standard in terms of five-star hotel brunches – lots of seafood, a sushi station, salads, desserts, cheese, but also a few Asian options and, naturally, Spanish treats. More on that later.
First up Greedy Girl spied an Asian/fusion treat – a bao with crispy fried calamari and slightly pickled red onion.
It went down a treat with the first sips of Cava but it was a tad greasy. Still …
We hit the sushi/sashimi station, going back twice for a couple of different options and to simple more favourites.
Greedy Girl loves the sushi rolls covered in crunchy roe and these were absolutely delicious. The vibrant pink fresh tuna looked great but didn’t pack a flavour punch.
Gluttonous husband got stuck in here, with the sashimi shrimp, salmon and mackerel while Greedy Girl wolfed down the rolls. Yum.
On a seafood mission, but slightly disappointed that there were no oysters, gluttonous husband took a selection.
At most Asian brunches we’ve done, the fresh seafood is a bit dried out and this was no exception. Gluttonous husband loved the smoked salmon but the crab, shrimp and lobster were all a bit bland and in need of moisture. C’est la vie …
Greedy Girl headed for the jamon iberico.
Very generous and utterly delicious platefuls are carved from the pig leg on demand by a rather friendly chef who wanted to give us a selection of the other cured meats on offer. We told him we’d be back …
Gluttonous husband decided to sample the paella.
Initially this golden seafood paella and a vegetarian version were on offer (with a squid ink seafood version put out later). While the rice was nicely cooked, the seafood was again a bit dry. It didn’t have the luscious depth of flavour from gluttonous husband’s own recipe (featuring decadent homemade crayfish stock).
Greedy Girl spied a couple of big steamers. And the contents were pretty good – langoustine and pork (in the middle) and langoustine and chives. Yum.
It was time for more meat …
The chorizo (bottom left) was absolutely yummy but the other meats paled a bit alongside the luscious of the jamon iberico we’d sampled earlier.
Gluttonous husband was keen to try the carvery.
Crispy skin, moist flesh and a beautiful aroma of rosemary. This was pretty fine.
Both of us struggling slightly under the weight of food, we took time out to sip and chat. The brunch was incredibly busy but we managed to find a reasonably quiet spot with not a huge amount of foot traffic going past.
Next up we took tuna tartare.
This was on a station with a large dish of ceviche. Based on the tuna, we didn’t go back for the ceviche as this dish was a bit too soft and slimy. Pass.
Gluttonous husband craved more meat.
Amazingly pink and very tender, gluttonous husband was quite happy with this serving.
He then spied this …
This was a lovely lamb shank with some sweet potato mash on the side. He was a very happy chappy.
Greedy Girl decided to get a selection of sweets.
It was a good profiterole on top of the white chocolate custard. A spoonful of the vivid blue mousse was more than enough (tooth-achingly sweet) but the combination of chocolate on the right went down the hatch. Rather good.
Gluttonous husband finished with a selection of Spanish cheese which, in the main, was not too stinky.
And we were done. Brunch nominally finishes at 4pm but we were at liberty to keep refilling our glasses with the open bottle of Cava and managed to stay put until around five.
The brunch costs around A$120 per person and we certainly felt like we got our money’s worth. Given a lot of other major restaurants are closed in Madrid on Sundays, this was a great option.
El Jardin at the Intercontinental Hotel
Paseo de la Castellana 49, Madrid