El Pico

I’m not often in Malasaña, but I found myself there and hungry and at the latter end of the window of opportunity that is lunchtime in Spain.

I’ve been coming to El Pico very irregularly for years. When I first started eating here it was a straight-forward, good value for money madridleño menu del dia…gradually the food became more inventive and more care was taken with presentation (you know the sort of thing…bit of parsley sprinkled on the edge of the plate, a pattern of balsamic reduction)…but despite this, the place itself or the quality of the food never changed or suffered…nor did the price shoot up.

I went in there today…maybe a year after i was last there…and the change was obvious…bare brick walls…fancy new bar…posh looking printed menus. As time was a factor..and i still had a fair amount of trust in the place, despite these trendy looking london-stylee changes…and, unusually, i had ’nuff money in my pocket…i decided to chance it

Here’s the menu. I went for the fabes con gambon y mejillon..a bean stew with a massive prawn and a massive mussel in it. And for the main course, merluza rebozado…got a wee plate of spare rib paella while they were preparing my first course..and it was delicious…wee crunchy bits of pork mixed in with the rice and the spare rib itself was lovely.

Weekend…so a bit pricier than you’d expect…

The first course was great. The big white beans massive, and the sauce tasty. Quite difficult to shell the big prawn with a knife and fork…and can’t really do with fingers as covered in sauce.

Main course was battered hake with onion, pepper, courgettes done in a wok. The veg was great, really tasty and the hake was out of this world…seemed to be done in the cadiz style…i imagine using chickpea flour and a pinch of cumin.

I was impressed that the waiter came and asked me how my first course was…and then again when the second course came up and asked “how’s the hake, lovely isn’t it”…you don’t normally get that level of pride with your average menu del dia.

I could hardly finish my main course, so i eschewed chocolate tart or various fruits in favour of a coffee

Achuri

I’ve been coming to this bar for years. I always refer to it as the communist bar…of course that’s not in the least bit pejorative coming from me..quite the reverse. I called it that because you can read diagonal here..which is about the most leftist newspaper we have in Spain…although it’s only printed weekly..and the posters decorating the bar express good left-wing sympathies. Truth be told, it’s a bit perroflauta (crusty/bongobonghi/dancingfool)…but don’t let that put you off…staff are friendly enough..tercios are cold and the food is good and cheap. Free tapas with your drink are a bit on the stingy side though..almost always olives or crisps or the dreaded bowl of peanuts

That’s not the full menu…and they do do a menu del dia during the day.

What i’ve had here:

  • Bocadillo (large bread roll…well..half a baguette) of sausages and mojo picòn (spicy canarian sauce…which i’ve since discovered tends to have almonds in it…but i didn’t die, so i assume theirs doesn’t
  • Bocadillo of bernabè…minced meat, spices and peppers. Bocadillos are 3,50€…so it’s often an option for me if i’ve missed my tea and can’t go to bed after work on a growling stomach
  • Papas arrugadas…a canarian speciality…small potatoes cooked in their skins in very salty water..drained and then they are put back on the heat to get rid of any excess moisture…so the skins wrinkle a bit and are covered with a fine white salt dust…then you put mojo picòn on them..or the more coriandery mojo verde
  • Croquetas of lacòn. Gammon croquettes.
  • My ex, whose name i do not care to remember, had the leeks au gratin and thought they were great.

It’s only 10pm on a friday night..that’s why the eating section is empty. Actually, i think the only people inside the bar at the moment are me, the waiters and a handful of people who are hoping that some people who have tables out on the terraza leave soon…it’s september and still balmy.

Lingua Franca

http://www.rastrobar.com/

Great bar, just off the rastro. Run by Bryn (either a scouser or a woolyback not sure) and Guadalupe (not a scouser, from Seville…(i’ve often thought that there was a decent correlation between Liverpool and Seville…sense of humour and general economic status))

Full english breakfasts for 7,50€…that’s with your orange juice and your tea and coffee. And the sausages….the sausages…well…they’re more than nice.

There’s books there in english..two seperate rooms. If you want to practice your ingles, i’d say it’s a great place to go…and if you don’t..same applies

Maybe one of the newest bars in the barrio. I’m hoping it takes off

Bodegas Rosell

Down a street to the right of Atocha train station, a gem…bodegas rosell.

Points in its favour: vermouth on tap, old skool decor. Not much else to say.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking

Playa Lavapiés

Calle Argumosa is blessed with 30 bars. I thought we’d hit critical mass at 29…but oh no.

La Playa opened up last summer and originally had sand on the floor for that beach feel. Luckily, elf & safety made them get rid of the sand every other week and replace it with fresh sand, and they soon got bored of doing that and elbowed the sand idea. Good. I ‘ate sand.

Not a bad place for a drink…alhambra on tap and in tercios, decent range of wine. No vermouth on tap 😦

In terms of food…dunno…never eaten here. They do toasted sandwiches, nachos, guacamole…that sort of affair.

Spanish coffee is, to put it mildly, a bit wank…luckily La Playa is one of the four or five places in the barrio that have italian Illy coffee

(you might find this blog a bit Lavapiés-centric…but i live here…and it is the best barrio in Madriz)

Raison d’être

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I’m a fella that likes to eat and drink well, unfortunately I’m not blessed with huge amounts of cash to do this in any great style. Luckily, I live in a place where it’s just as easy to eat well with little money as it is to eat well with bags of cash.

I stayed in Lisbon in August 2012 (after having lived there between 1999 and 2004) and decided to write a blog for my own amusement (http://daveinmadridandlisbon.wordpress.com)..taking photos of what I ate and making a note of how much it cost, as well as pictures of anything of interest along the way.

I’m home in Madrid now and thought I might do something similar but with more emphasis on cafés and bars, as I don’t get the chance to eat out so much, what with the work thing . Maybe it’ll be useful to folk visiting Madrid …who like to eat and aren’t keen on spending too much cash.

I don’t think I’ll be posting as rigorously as I did with my Lisbon blog, again…due to the curse of the working classes…work

Saude/Salud/Sláinte