A 2-star Michelin restaurant; one of the greatest private wine collections in Spain; striking architecture; a World Heritage location – those are the exceptional ingredients to an outstanding gastronomic experience at Atrio Restaurante Hotel, in the beautiful medieval city of Caceres, writes Andrew Forbes (@andrewaforbes).
Michelin star Chef Juan Antonio (Toño) Pérez and his partner, wine expert and collector José Polo are the geniuses behind the 14-room Atrio Restaurante & boutique hotel. This remarkable food & wine hotel is found on Plaza San Mateo in the heart of the captivating old town of Cáceres; one of Spain’s most beautiful medieval cities.
Behind the traditional stone façade, the hotel surprises with avant-garde architecture by Emilio Tuñón Álvarez and Luis Moreno Mansilla.
The property is built around a central courtyard. In Spanish this is known as the ‘atrio’ and here this heart of the property is dramatically framed by white geometric ‘arches’ that play beautifully with the natural light.
This is where the private guest rooms meet the elegant public spaces including the sun and pool terraces; the secluded courtyard; and the surrounding garden.
The upper terrace affords a wonderful view over the plaza and he rooftops of old town. Beyond is the solarium with sun beds, sofas and two plunge pools.
Whilst the open patio and garden are a delight for breakfast or dinner.
The 14 chic guest rooms continue the minimalist aesthetic. White walls, natural materials provide calming spaces, furnished with designer pieces, and original art by the likes of Andy Warhol, Antonio Sauro, Antoni Tapies, and others.
The bathroom was so elegant and perfectly presented with designer fixtures, high-end amenities and thoughtful touches like bath salts.
Guests can enjoy room service from the kitchen, as well as the most beautifully presented breakfast.
Cáceres – the Hidden Spain
Cáceres, in the autonomous region of Extremadura, is about 90 minutes from the regional airport at Badajoz, and the international airport at Madrid is three hours-drive away. The city still feels part of the ‘hidden Spain’ – promising an authentic and enthralling experience.
In 2016 Cáceres was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in recognition of its medieval walled city of spires, towers, churches and historic palaces.
A year earlier, Cáceres was recognised as Gastronomic Capital of Spain, for its unique regional cuisine and superb local produce including artisan cheeses, organic olive oil, forest honey, high-quality cured ham, peppers, and Spain’s favourite spice, pimentón.
Awarded 2 Michelin stars, Restaurant Atrio offers a unique gastronomic experience, and understandably has become a renowned destination for gourmet travellers.
Chef Toño Pérez has decades of experience in fine dining; his contemporary style is a celebration of his Extremaduran homeland. The modern tasting menus focus on traditional Iberian and Extremeño ingredients and reflect his nostalgia for his mother’s cooking.
Toño Pérez – Restaurante Atrio Hotel
The dining room is a fitting space for such remarkable cuisine. The architectural space is filled with natural light and overlooks the open patio garden.
Tables are immaculately dressed with crisp white linens. The team are elegantly dressed in designer suits, offering a white-glove service expected in an award-winning restaurant. In the evening the dining room is subtly lit, highlighting the artworks by Antonio Saura and others, creating a feeling of intimacy and calm.
In addition, there is the chef’s table in the kitchen.
Gourmet Tasting Menu
Our multiple course tasting menu was one of the finest meals I have enjoyed, combing original and sensational layering of flavours, exquisite presentation, and superb service.
The meal started with a glass of André Clouet Champagne, and beautifully presented snacks and ‘aperitivos’ including local ‘patatera’ paprika sausage, a tapenade of local black olives, and local chesses.
The first starter was a scarlet, cold soup of tomato granita, with onion ice-cream and cockles.
Oyster with white vermouth
After the ‘Empanadilla de Taro, with pork Manteca fat, and cumin, came an exquisite dish of oyster prepared on the grill, served with white vermouth. Divine with a glass of Quintaluna rueda white wine.
The ceviche served in a passion fruit infused bowl of ice was amongst the best I have ever tried.
Bollo de tinta
The calamari with pork was presented like sushi – such a melt in the month texture with layers of flavour.
The fish plate was sensational – cooked to perfection, with a delicate nuanced flavour.
The scarlet-coloured carabinero cardinal prawn, paired with pork might sound a surprising combination but one that was superb.
The tuna came on a bed of creamed sweet potatoes. The wafer of pork fat further elevated this dish.
The rabo de toro was a sophisticated dish, with truffle and shavings of wild mushroom – superb paired with a glass of Habla No.16 wine.
Cheese & Ham
The meal drew to a close with a plate of local cheese and jamon – presented in the most exquisite fashion – truly a delight; and just a wonderful combination of flavours and textures.
The first pudding was a creative combination.
The Cherry that is not a Cherry
Creative ‘faux’ cherry which burst open in the mouth.
Spectacular Wine Cellar
This remarkable meal was enhanced by the wines. In fact, wine lover will be amazed by Atrio’s award-winning wine list. It is a heavy hard-back book, featuring highlights from José Polo’s wine collection – 40,000 bottles, from 22 countries, from 44 producers, including 28 small boutique wineries.
José Polo – Restaurante Atrio Hotel
One of the great pleasures of dining at Atrio is that before dinner, guests are invited to a private tour of this architect-designed, circular cellar, seeing first-hand the many rare and exceptional vintages that José Polo has personally sought out and collected – a true passion.
Atrio Restaurante Hotel is a requisite stop on any gastronomic tour of Spain’s food and wine heartlands. The hotel offers to create tailormade travel arrangement so that guests can enjoy the very best of Cáceres and the surrounding area. It makes for a truly unique and memorable experience.
Restaurante Atrio Hotel
Plaza de San Mateo 1, 10003 Cáceres