Eating in a cigar | La Rioja

The generation of chefs born with the transition, between 1974 and 1981, is the most brilliant of all we have had in Spain. Four of them (Eneko Atxa, Dabiz Muñoz, Ángel León and Jordi Cruz) have already achieved three stars and a large group of bi-stars are ready to conquer the top of Spanish cuisine. Important names that have proven to be amply prepared to make the leap. Thus, in a whirlwind, Ricard Camarena, Javier Olleros, Mario Sandoval, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch or Paco Morales come to mind. With everything I have had extremely satisfying meals.

But there are two, even with two stars, also born in those years, with which I particularly enjoyed. One, as I told you at the time, is Benito Gómez in his Bardal de Ronda. The other, Iván Cerdeño, installed in one of Toledo’s most beautiful cigarrales, El Ángel, with the ever-spectacular capital of Toledo in the background. I admit that I have a special affection for Iván. I was the first to write about him in early 2012, when he was at Casa del Carmen, under the supervision of the Rodríguez Rey brothers. I was struck by the good technique and clear ideas displayed by the young cook.

I’ve been following him closely ever since, first in El Carmen de Montesión and then in this cigarral he made the leap to three years ago, where he earned his well-deserved second star and reached maturity. A space in line with the level of his kitchen, which he defines as Toledo. Proximity cuisine, taking advantage of the orchards of the Tagus and the resources of the environment, which also dives into ancient recipe books.

In his increasingly exceptional dishes, vegetables and game predominate, in elegant and tasty preparations. Only the first part of the current menu, a succession of refined snacks, would justify the trip to Toledo. But then comes the shrimp curd, the herb soup, the red partridge-stuffed sardine (inspired by an El Practicón recipe), the seasoned eels, the venison with barnacles vinaigrette, or the royal duck, dishes that prove that one of the most projected chefs of the moment works there.

By the way, when booking, ask for one of the two tables located next to the glass window overlooking Toledo. Wonderful views for a class cuisine.