One of Platea’s many bars
With an endless carousel of pop-up markets, rutas de tapas, gin and tonic routes, and other food-based ventures, Madrid sometimes seems as if it’s one big gastronomic fun park. I can’t check my RSS feed these days without being bombarded with news about an old-market-turned-gourmet or a summer project with the foodie-o-meter aimed at 10.
Nowhere has the food or wow factor been dialed up as high as at Platea Madrid. An unassuming facade on Calle Goya falls away to reveal an “espacio gourmet” with a staggering 6,000 square meters. To give you an idea of just how big that is, the site can supposedly welcome up to 1,100 people! The entrance may not be showy, but the interior sure is. The body of the building–a former cinema–makes it seem as if you are embarking on a voyage over the high seas. And boy, oh boy are there plenty of provisions to carry you through the journey.
I first heard about Platea when I learned that Mamá Framboise, my fav French café/pâtisserie, was opening up a second locale there. It was hard to envision the final outcome of the project, but one glance at their promotional video told me that a visit was in order. I made a mental note to check it out but, as the opening was still a couple of months away, I promptly forgot about the new venture until I was in Goya last week.
That day, I happened to be standing outside when a food stall caught my eye. A peak inside revealed the poshest place to stuff your picnic basket in all of Madrid. Just as you must maneuver through the gift shop to reach your airplane terminal, Gold Gourmet sidetracks you with shiny bottles of olive oil, a lavish charcuterie counter, and the plumpest figs you’ll ever see. By the time you get to the other side of the tunnel, you’ve forgotten what you originally came there for.
Platea’s showboat-esque interior
At the heart of Platea lies a grandiose common area filled with bars, food counters, and tables for patrons. (Think mall food court tempered for royalty–some waiters wore suits.) The main level–planta del calle–is the area for little nibbles and bites. This includes a cheese counter, cocktail bar, a take-away place selling tortillas and croquetas, as well as a few other options. The first floor holds a swanky, 2-star Michelin restaurant called–appropriately–Arriba. The second floor has a swanky cocktail joint and the third floor boasts a smoking area. The floor just underground sets the stage for world cuisine, offering flavors from places such as Mexico, Italy, Peru, and Japan. No matter where you are in these areas, you’ll be treated to jazzy tunes and the revamped cinema screen, which changes colors with the music. If “ambiente” is what you’re after, Platea has an edge over the other modernized markets in Madrid.
When I first walked through Platea’s ground floor, I was afraid the extravagant price tag would be pushing my not-so-gilded wallet. Luckily, this was not the case, and I was happy to see that there were options for several different price ranges. My friend and I each bought a glass of vermouth on tap (2 Euros) as well as olives (1 Euro) and a generous portion of potato chips (2 Euros). Another day I might be tempted to visit the cheese counter, or try the mini tortillas or fried avocados (4 Euros/each). If you want to splurge, you can always treat yourself to oysters or flowers or the fancy restaurant upstairs.
La Hora del Vermut has 5 different kinds of vermouth on tap
Mamá Framboise, as classy as ever
As for Mamá Framboise, I will definitely be coming back soon to have coffee and pastry in their old-fashioned yet sleek and modern second locale. Lately their first cafe has been quite crowded, but Platea has made it possible to provide the space needed now that their fame has grown.
Perhaps it seems like an odd time to sink so much money (60 MILLION Euros, to be exact) into a splashy venture like Platea. Wandering the halls stuffed with everything from turmeric to pulpo to gourmet potato chips, I couldn’t help but wonder how many actual Madrileños will be able to enjoy a drink here. The vermouth aperitif that I tried was quite affordable, but it was probably the least expensive thing on all four floors. Will this market soon be as crazily elbow-to-elbow as Mercado San Miguel or Mercado San Antón, which cater to cash-happy tourists?
Does Madrid need another “espacio gourmet”? No, not really. Will I bring visitors to Platea Madrid to take a look around? Sure, why not. After all, whether you’re a tourist or a local, Platea is merely “un espectáculo.“
Platea Madrid, C/ Goya, 5-7
Sunday – Wednesday 12:00–24.00, Thursday-Friday 12:00–02.00
Metro: Colón or Serrano