When someone asks me what Platea is, I almost have to take a deep breath so I can explain in one go, all that it encompasses. It could be summed up as a superb gastronomy space on almost 6,000 square metres, with the signature of renowned chefs (6 Michelin stars). But it’s much more than that, both in terms of the place in itself and all it contains. Enjoying food and drink in this setting is all part of the show… by night or by day.
Starting with the sheer size of the space, Platea is just huge (capacity 1,183 people). The premises formerly housed the Carlos III cinema in Plaza de Colón (with the entrance on Goya, 5-7). The transformation of the former cinema, the work of Lázaro Rosa-Violán (the go-to interior designer for firms like Inditex, DiverXO, Only You hotel, etc.), is spectacular. All four floors, from the orchestra pit to the boxes, have preserved that theatrical feel and on the stage, there’s always something happening.
It’s worth visiting Platea if only to admire at the interior decor, which is really impressive. There’s nothing like it in Madrid. But just going in to have a look is practically impossible because the food on offer is so varied and wide-ranging that you could almost plan ‘a day in Platea’ without having the same dish twice.
10 am Breakfast at Mama Framboise. The French patisserie holds no secrets for Alejandro Montes, the pastry chef who has revolutionised high-class confectionery in Madrid. The industrial chic decor makes you feel as though you were in a Parisian boulangerie enjoying your first coffee of the day accompanied by some delicious cakes and pastries: a raspberry croissant, the house special, pain au chocolat, pretzels, the list goes on. Mama Framboise is directly accessible from the street and their system for table service is rather curious: you pay when you order at the counter and then place the giant letter they give you on a magnet on your table, so they know where to bring your food.
11am Shopping at Gold Gourmet. The colour and perfect order of the fruit and vegetables is eye-catching, but you’ll find other fresh products in Gold Gourmet, like meat and sausages, preserves and wines, and, above all, you’ll get a few tips from Luis Pacheco, who always goes the extra mile. If it exists, however obscure it may seem, he will have it in this delicatessen.
1pm Shall we stop for an appetiser? On the ground floor, La Hora del Vermú with its irresistible counter packed with olives and pickles looking so shiny and appetising, doesn’t leave you with much of a choice. Sabor a Dehesa is also tempting, with ham, cheese and wine, a perfect trio.
2pm Lunch at Sinergias. When three Michelin-starred chefs (and friends), Marcos Morán, Paco Roncero and Pepe Solla, get together to feed people, as they call it, the result is Sinergias. This translates into five food counters, so you can choose whatever you fancy, whenever you fancy: Castizo, featuring Spanish tapas; A Mordiscos, with filled baguettes and salads; As Bateas, the seafood corner of Platea; Entrecortes, in El Foso (the old orchestra pit), with chicken, burgers, ribs and steak; and De Cuchara, serving heart-warming stews in winter and chilled dishes in summer, and where you’ll always find paella and now also huevos rotos (fried potato and eggs, served with strips of ham). There’s even gluten-free bread for coeliacs.
6pm After-work drinks. This is when El Patio bar gets going. Drinks are brought to the tables, arranged in various areas of what used to be the stalls, while the stage screen shows live broadcasts, black and white film clips, performances and shows or music picked by a DJ. A quiet tea in Mama Framboise is a pleasurable experience but if all you want is satisfy a craving for a sweet treat, El Foso has a small counter with a selection of cakes (lemon, carrot, raspberry) plus their collection of macarons.
8pm Cosmopolitan dinner. World cuisine is well represented at El Foso, with all kinds of styles: Mexican at Besos de Sal, run by Álex de la Fuente; Japanese and Asian prepared by Rafael Sánchez at Shikku; Italian at Fortino, headed by Ranieri Casalini; and Peruvian at Kinua, the work of Kiko Zeballos. The entire menu is printed on the placemats; you just go up to the counter and order and when it’s ready they’ll let you know via a device on your table. Drinks are brought to the tables and prices are an average of around 5 euros. It’s open until midnight on weekdays and until 2am at weekends.
9pm Head upstairs to Freixa. On the first floor, Ramón Freixa has set up Arriba, a bistro, perfect for an informal dinner. Don’t expect to eat anything similar to what’s on offer at his top restaurant. The food is simple and unpretentious, despite the elegant setting and the fact that it’s the only restaurant in Platea with table service. In fact, for around 25-30 euros you can try some portions of different dishes for lunch or dinner, sampling delicious original dishes like their Russian salad slice or the fun Butiperriches hot dog, with black pudding sausage, guacamole and crisps. The menu also includes vegetables, meat and fish, stews and rice dishes, not forgetting the desserts that are large enough to share.
11pm The finest cocktails. In any of Platea’s bars, be it El Foso, El Patio or El Palco, there’s a huge variety of beers, wines, soft drinks, spirits and mixed drinks. The natural home of creative cocktail mixing however, is on the balcony floor, El Palco, at the very top of Platea is where cocktails in the hands of the best barmen become pure showmanship and where you’ll be amazed by their innovative mixes. It usually has its own resident DJs and you’ll get the best views of Platea from up here.