An atmosphere of calm and serenity welcomed us as we arrived at Aire restaurant. Low lit, and decorated with a beautiful mellow mix of wood and bronze – Aire was the perfect combination of cosiness and elegance. Our table gave us a great view of the open kitchen, which felt calm, and peaceful and gave us an appetizing peek into the preparation of the dishes. Attention to detail is in evidence from the outset at this Madrid restaurant, in the menu which gives information about the origin of the products and the way that the dishes are prepared, blending traditional and modern cooking techniques.
The first of the ‘four elements’ group of restaurants, (the second element, ‘Fuego,’ opened its doors 5 months ago), Aire is the joint concept of owners Erika Feldmann and Ignacio González-Haba alongside the Executive Chef of the group, Gonzalo Hierro. Poultry and game are the specialities here, hence, the name. Aire is breathed through this Madrid restaurant in other clever ways, for example, in the cooking techniques such as air drying and curing, or serving things raw such as the fabulous Tartar de Pato de Los Gers (Duck Tartare) or in other fun touches such as the use of ‘pez volador’ (flying fish) as an ingredient which brings flavour to the dish. It’s this blend of humour, fun and creativity that brings the dishes to life at this Madrid restaurant.
We were presented with a ‘mollete con zurrapa de pato con gel de hibiscus’ appetizer to begin– a mini-sized Andalucian muffin filled with a light and tasty stewed duck delight! Extremely flavoursome, the creamy zurrapa, nicely contrasted with the bite of the floral hibiscus. We began our aire-stravaganza with the intriguing ‘pechuga de oca’ – a finely sliced goose breast, cooked on a low heat – tender, light and melt in the mouth and served with redcurrants- a fantastic and tantalisingly different kind of dish to start with. We moved on to the ‘tartar de pato’ – duck tartare served with mini duck yolk and mustard ice-cream- rich, creamy and delicious. Next came the ‘croquetas cremosas de aves nobles’ or game croquettes – and oh my goodness, these were the lightest croquettes I have tasted in all my time here! The secret according to Luis, the knowledgeable and attentive Maitre d, lies in sifting the flour and cooking the béchamel for the croquettes gently and slowly. We finished with one of Aire’s signature dishes – the ‘coquelet marinado al cava y su guarnición’ – a delicious poussin-like rotisserie-cooked chicken that was marinated in cava, and was served with fabulous provencal and teriyaki sauces. Accompanying this were chips that were air dried, fried then roasted as well as the most perfectly al dente colourful vegetables.…the coquelet was a Spanish-Asian roast chicken heaven, which just fell off the bone.
We finished our meal with wonderful ‘torrijas’ – a kind of Spanish sticky toffee pudding/French toast combo. This wonderful pud consisted of chocolate brioche bathed in coconut milk infused with kaffir lime leaves, scattered with redcurrants and candied sunflower seeds, with a buttery caramel sauce in the middle AND served with a pink candy floss icecream – a joyful happy taste explosion of a dessert!
Aire was a wonderful taster of excellent poultry and game dishes and is upmarket, but not break the bank expensive. The combination of modern with rustic touches create a comfortable, relaxed and romantic vibe – which is matched by the excellent service at this Madrid restaurant. Dishes that are designed to be shared that are tasty, light and super fresh. Aire is great place to try something a little out of the ordinary, fun, creative and delicious!
Address: Calle Orfila, 7, Madrid
Opening times: Monday – Saturday 1:30-4pm, 8:30pm-12am and Sunday 1:30-4pm
Article photos by Marietta Sandilands and Orlagh Harley