For those seeking delightful winter fare, a duo of exciting new eateries in Madrid offer the chance to indulge in either French or Basque cuisine.

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Right in the heart of Madrid, just steps from Plaza Santa Ana, Casanis  (www.casanis-restaurante-marbella.es/casanis-madrid  tel.914 290 877)  is a warming experience from the moment you step through the door. The softly lit interior is a stunning tribute to rustic, French style. Exposed wooden columns, walls adorned with trompe l’oeil, a rear-lit wine display and lush potted palms create the perfect mood whether you want a quiet business lunch or a romantic dinner.

The Belgian owners of this venue have been wooing diners in Marbella with the original Casanis for over eight years, and its success prompted them to start operations in Madrid.

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With a menu inspired by dishes you’d encounter in a classic French bistro, you’ll find solace in old favourites such as snails with herb butter, freshly shucked oysters, foie mi cuit and filled crêpes. Pushing the experience up a notch, Chef Fabian Cangas makes sure all the meat, fish and shellfish is bought daily in the local market. It’s a great combination and one that works wonderfully as Spain’s very best ingredients are converted into delicious French cuisine. Chef Fabian places great importance on presentation and every dish that comes out from the kitchen looks picture perfect.

Across in Barrio de Salamanca, Muñagorri (www.munagorrirestaurante.es  tel. 914 014 741) brings fine Basque dishes within the reach of everyone.

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In the front bar section of the restaurant, which sports street views from the oversized windows, you’ll find smaller tapa-sized versions of the starters on the main menu.  ‘Must trys’ are veal meatballs with curry and mustard sauce or slices of the Basque cheese Idiazábal served with tangy quince jelly on the side. High tables, leather stools, an elegant wooden bar and blackboards with chalked-up specials create the perfect setting to sit in the company of friends while you enjoy a selection of Basque delicacies. Excellent Spanish wines are served by the glass and are a great excuse to linger on.

Responsible for creating the enticing menu is Chef Pedro Muñagorri who was trained in some of the top kitchens in San Sebastian, but has since been running his own restaurant for five years.  True to his roots, Basque cuisine shines through in the dishes offered.

Muñagorri Madrid 2012 (2)For those with bigger appetites, the contemporary-styled, main dining room is where to indulge in full-sized portions. A winter favourite is the creamy risotto flavoured with wild mushrooms and Idiazábal cheese.  Mains are neatly divided into fish and meat with the squid stuffed with caramelised onions and a rich and hearty ox tail stew being definite highlights which should not be missed.