By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Nov 23, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Bodegón, the fine dining restaurant at the new Hotel Madrid, made its debut on Tuesday evening at 600 S. 6th St. And it might be something of what you would expect. But, maybe not.

If you expect fine dining, you'll find it. The restaurant is elegant and well-appointed, entrees are composed and thoughtful, and service is on par with what you'd expect from a fine dining experience. However, there's a distinctly un-stuffy vibe about Bodegón, making the restaurant a comfortable place for both special occasions and everyday outings.

The same is true for the restaurant's cuisine, which may at first glance appear very similar to other restaurants of a similar calibre. However, as you dine, you'll begin to discover – in both ingredients and creative flourishes – the spirit of Spain.

After entering the building on 6th Street, you’ll make your way through Hotel Madrid’s bar, Vermutería 600, where you can enjoy a pre-dinner tipple – including a glass of house-made vermouth – before checking in at the hostess station near the end of the bar. As you’re escorted to your table, you’ll pass through a doorway flanked by a bull-fighting suit on the right and the entrance to La Cava, the restaurant’s wine cellar, on the left.

Wooden tables with granite inlays are surrounded by tastefully mismatched chairs and adorned with place-settings and candles. Chandeliers featuring antlers hang from the ceiling and tastefully displayed bull-fighting garb dons the otherwise stark white walls.

Meanwhile, an open kitchen flanks the east end of the dining room, offering diners a view of the culinary action.

Bodegón’s menu offers a variety of starters including cheese and charcuterie boards ($21/29), roasted bone marrow with seasonal accompaniments ($19) and dishes including octopus with balsamic vinegar, orange and fennel ($22).

A generously portioned seasonal salad, easily shared by two or more diners, features grilled acorn squash and fennel over peppery greens with pumpkin seeds, pomegranate and vinaigrette ($15).

Meanwhile, flavorful dry-aged and lightly smoked carpaccio is served with rich duck yolk, Manchego, truffle and slightly spicy guindilla peppers ($24).

Diners can enjoy individual entrees including dishes like pasta with pork cheek, lobster cream and artichoke ($28), confit chicken with persimmon, gnocchi and brussels sprouts ($29), and sea bass with squash tortellini, saffron tomato broth, manila clams and asparagus ($41). A la carte wet- and dry-aged steaks are priced $42-65.

However, there are also options for sharing. Acorn fed Bellota pork tenderloin ($112), rack of lamb ($65), Skuna Bay salmon ($62) and larger cuts of in-house dry-aged beef, including a 32-ounce ribeye ($95), 24 ounce T-bone ($76) and 28-ounce tomahawk steaks ($88).

You'll also find cochinillo asado (whole suckling pig) available with a 48-hour notice for $620.

Sides, which are priced $9-12, include whipped and domino potatoes, sweet potato croquetas, artichokes, mushrooms and cippolini onions along with risotto, gnocchi and fresh bread. Sauces, including veal demiglace, sherry reduction and bone marrow butter are also available for $7 each.

In fact, it's not difficult to pull together an impressive spread for a table of two or more.

Meanwhile, a vegetarian menu includes pumpkin risotto with brussels sprouts, cippolini onions and artichokes ($17), squash tagliatelle with sage, white asparagus and goat cheese cream ($18), whole roasted cauliflower with cranberries and saffron buerre blanc ($21), and eggplant paella with romesco and Tetilla cheese ($23).

Desserts include a Galacian almond tart with dulce de leche, apple crumble and goat cheese ice cream ($13).

Meanwhile, torrijas (a Spanish dessert similar to French toast) arrive swathed in dark chocolate and served with traditional Spanish turrón (almond nougat) and creme-bruleed bananas ($13).

After dinner beverages include dessert wines, digestifs (including amaro, absinthe, fernet, cynar and chartreuse), along with coffee, tea and espresso.

There's even a bit of charm in receiving your bill at the end of the night. After all, it will come tucked into a tome by Ernest Hemingway.

Bodegón is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Vermutería 600 will observe the same kitchen hours, but will offer bar service until close. Reservations can be made by visiting the Hotel Madrid web site.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.