Gofio – posh Canarian food

Yeah. I’ve sold out. I ain’t keepin’ it real no more
This is definitely not an old skool menu del dia restaurant. Quite the opposite. It’s like a restaurant from The Trip. There’s dishes that come with foam, there’s dishes that get injected in front of you, you get instructions with each course. and there are eight courses of tiny but delicious weird dishes.
We felt like we should be constantly doing impressions. But I find that gets a bit wearing when professional impressionists do it, so the fifth time a scrote like me says “No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die!” you’re actually wishing you could die. “What do you mean Flash Gordon approaching?”…impressions are even worse when you have to say who you are trying to be…”What’s that supposed to mean, Scott?” (Guy Pearce in Neighbours)

So, this restaurant is in Huertas (or if you prefer..Lavapies Alta Norte) and it ain’t cheap. But i’m assured by my brother that for this sort of high class food in the UK you’d be paying an arm and a leg for this sort of an experience. And as everybody there is on zero hour contracts, you’ll need those arms and legs…even though you’d still be considered fit for work and sent back to poundland without them.

this is going to be hard to write about as there were 8 courses and wasnt completly sure what any of them were…mainly when the male waiters brought them over and insisted on telling us about the dish in very difficult to understand English. The female waiters were quite happy to explain the dishes in their native tongue, which made them much easier to understand. I wasnt too worried about what the male weighters were rabbiting on about as they had checked for alergies beforehand (and i’m deathly alergic to all nuts and all dirty bombs. and killer sharks. and i can’t breath in space. not allergic but i dont like beer over 6 per cent. think i got everything covered there)
Basically you have 3 options…they are all tasting menus…menus degustation. you can have short menu of 6 plates/courses, 8 plates/courses or ten. we went for the middle one. 35euro. Bottle of white wine from Lanzarote

first course…now this is easy….chicken soup. I’m sure they’d done something else to it than just chicken soup. Was delicious. “We took a chicken and made it fight a bear. an angry bear like in that film with Leonard Di Capprio. Then we got the chicken to appear on celebrity big brother and get off with an ex-wag and come at least third. Then, and only then, did we turn him into soup. Enjoy!”

next course/plate was a scallop with a foam of something delicious…in a sauce of delicious.

next plate/course was a pie of something, goat maybe. and injected with rabbit salmorejo…which is not salmorejo you know, there’s not tomato in it. there was something about the green veg it was served on and we were warned that we would be shown the door if we didnt eat the greens. fair enough

really not sure what the next thing was. Was maybe pork inside a damson style thing. with a sauce made of super concentrated baby squid

absolutely no idea. was nice though. the crispy thing on top was made from corn. i think. oh the wee gobs of sauce were made from avacado

Octopus. with a sauce. very delicious.

meat

this was the last “salad” course….he meant “savoury”. think it was goat stew with something on top and a slice of strong sheep’s cheese to the side

Pudding one. Lemon mouse thing with mint

pudding two. mine was different to my partner’s. mine was sort of chocolaty. thing the other one had evil nuts in it

all in all, i cant see myself eating there regularly. 115euro for 8 courses for two people and two bottles of lanzarote wine (very nice by the way…sort of smokey and dry) but was definitely a positive experience which i highly recommend. just dont make sure you dont sit next to a pair of dicks doing crap impressions

Meson Valle del Jerte

I once met a woman, no bear with me. This woman said “I don’t like menu del dias!” which to me is a bit of a strange thing to say….i can imagine someone saying “i dont like cheese” and not liking cheese….but if you said “I don’t like lunch” that, to me, is a bit weird. I have a feeling she didnt really know what a menu del dia was and was just repeating something she’s heard someone say, as she kept asking questions like “how many courses do you get?” “do we really get all this for 10euro?”
As i have mentioned, the menu del dia and our very way of life is being eroded and there are some areas of Madrid where it’s nie on impossible to find a proper menu del dia. and even in a civilised place like lavapies-sur (embajadores) they aren’t all over the place at weekends. So when you’re hungry, thirsty, tired and it’s a saturday and the grain of sands left counting down the lunch window are disappearing, it great when you remember a proper Menu Del Dia place is just around the corner.
So i ended up in Meson Valle del Jerte just opposite Frangus just below the rastro. Jerte is a small town near Caceres but for some reason this restaurant has some connection with Portugal. They sell Sagres and Pasteis de Nata, but maybe it’s just because its opposite Frangus and they buy from there.

Look at that! That’s a site for thirsty eyes….not only a full bottle of wine for one person, but a large bottle of Casera to mix with it. To be honest, i generally find myself rationing Casera as much as wine.

hell of a lot of seafood paella. i wont be going thirsty or hungry

Baked Bream (Dorada), the fish being baked atop the spuds and veggies. Lovely

oh and pudding. chocolate tart. Didn’t bother taking photo of dessert. it’s just dessert.

Old Skool no frills home cooked Menu del Dia. 14 euro (well, it is a weekend). I was able to get myself home and onto the sofa to siesta till half past seven half listening to a hiphop spotify playlist. Tell me if you had a better saturday!

La Cabana Argentina

Was my partner’s birthday so I took them (non gender specific pronoun) for a steak. I’ve walked past this place a few times and did my due diligence and it had good reviews. Also, did a bit of extra research as I’m a nob. Turns out that the best cut of steak to order in argentina is bife de chorizo or strip steak for you angloholics…it’s a cut that is tender but has enough fat to make it tasty. Your tenderloin or solomillo is apparently like shagging a model…looks good from a distance but not really much to it. and is skinny, smokes and does charlie. If a barbecue joint does a good strip steak, apparently you know its a good place. So i thought that even if its a rubbish meal, we’ll at least leave knowledged up about this place.

So obviously we ordered chicken nuggets and strawberry milk shakes. well done!
No… we ordered, well I ordered as I’m the alpha, 500g bife de chorizo en su punto (which is not rare or medium rare…it’s literally to the point…you’re saying…let the meat decide)
chips bien sur.
bottle of end of the world Malbec from Patagonia. a very nice drop yo.
Total was about 100euro for the two of us.

http://lacabanaargentina.com/contact

will definitely go back. but may take a year or so for all that meat to leave my intestines

La Chusquery

*i took the photos in this post, which would explain why they’re so shite.
two posts in the same day, i should have a lie down.
amazing how much time you find if you miss mass on a sunday and masturbate slightly less. or quicker, maybe. i joke…i haven’t been to mass in twenty years.

yesterday i went old skool and had lunch in SanBruno, like i’d never been away. same waiters, nice as always…litre and a half of wine, casera and glass with ice all without asking. and a free chupito of patxaran to digest. and west ‘am against arsenal on the telly.
today was like a special day? so went to a posh place. we’d tried to go before but they were having none of it…said they were full or some shit. so yesterday after lunch in bruno i waddled up and booked a table for today.
The maitre-di/waiter had decided that despite more than 25 years in madrid between us, and the fact that i’d bucked it in the old Castellano, that we could only be spoken to in hard-to-understand english and had to order from an english menu that was very hard to follow if you actually spoke english. i’m quite happy speaking to people in english if they want, in fact…most of the time i insist because i’m lazy as fuck….but sometimes, and almost always in a restuarant you just want to ask “¿podemos realizar esta operación en español, que sería más facil?”…which probably sounds like “koood wee perfume thos peration une spaggheti, eat wood bees moo oozy if i say it. i was just pissing by the door”

Anyway, this restuarant is like so hot right now. as in hip. and used to be a nice little local shop for old people just by Plaza de los Carros in La Latina. I remember i used to come in here for a can of beer to drink in the plaza on a monday as there was no popo there, like on a sunday. Not sure what the schtick is in the resturant…but there’s quite a few japanese things on the menu and there are some pictures of japanese style temples on the wall.

my boo started with half cheese plate. came with nuts. ewww. and cheese is basically death anyway, as human adults we’re not really supposed to eat it, the fact we aren’t lactos intolerant is a freak of our DNA in the north of europe.

i had the ceviche of a fish (no point giving us a menu with the fish written in english…we can’t afford to eat fish in the uk so we have no idea what they’re called in english)….was actually delicious….really delicious…almost as nice as the ceviche in anton martin market but 3 times the price.

we both went for whatever it was trying to say on the menu…but it seemed to be galician grass fed dead cow meat. so we ordered that. yum.
i made the mistake of wanting white wine with the meal, because i prefer white wine and red wine gives me a headake. The Alo-Alo style waiter was non too pleased and decided to leave without taking the wine order just so that we had time to have a think about just what we asked. luckily we managed to order a bottle of albariño from another waiter

the grass fed dead cow meat was wonderfully tender and the chips were served in a mini chip frier as they always are these days, everywhere…except, i imagine, in chip shops. the waiter had decided i was obviously just wrong or insane to order the cowmeat well done (it tends to be a better choice in spain…because rare means the cow meat is still running around and medium means the cow has just been stunned for a while)….but i have to give it to him, he was right.
even had pudding…which i didn’t bother to photograph, because who cares about pudding yo?
so…three courses and 2 bottles of albariño wine…was about 90-odd €…i suppose that’s ok if you’re going to insist on going to posh places.

Buns & Bones

Possibly the worst restaurant name i’ve ever come across, but i suppose it’s memorable. or not…i had to google it to write this.
Anyway, it’s a new restaurant on the outside of Anton Martin Market bottom corner if you were going to walk down to the Reina Sofia.

I suppose their shtick is that they get their ingrediants fresh from the market. the buns thing is, i think that half the menu contains bread and the bones bit is dead things that once had bones. i say half and half but there’s a large part of the menu that says “neither buns nor bones” and is given over to things that never had bones nor are served in bread.
We started off with Metze de Lavapies, the buns bit was pita pan and 3 things to put on to or into the pan…olive tapanard, hummus and guacamole. I thought that was a bit steep at 7.50, but to be fair…the waitresses were delightful, not that i’m ever swayed by a well turned ankle

I just got paid, so as a working class man, I am culturaly bound to spend it as quickly as possible. Not for the likes of I the more sensible deferred satisfaction, so i ordered a half a lobster. to eat. think i’d only ever had it once before. i felt all Kanye n’shit.

I should maybe have googled how to eat it properly because I fear I may have made a right pigs ear of it. Possibly why I’m not being considered for the new Bond.
My partner ordered the tandoori chicken, which was a brave thing to have on a menu in Lavapiés…bit like putting faggots & mushy peas on a menu in Nottingham, lot to live up to

My lobster was as nice as any i’ve ever had and the Tandoori chicken was apparently pukka. the roast potatoes that came with both were nice. Also, one of the lovely waitresses gave us a couple of beers free…I’d like to think that it was her way of being flortty-flortty, but it was probably because the chicken took a very long time and i’d finished stuffing my face with very recently murdered sea animal before my partner got the chicken.
Despite my rock star main course, the bill wasn’t too bad…21€ for two of us, a shared starter, lobster and 3 beers each

Terra mundi

I was celebrating today. 4 weeks in a leg brace and today the traumatologist told me i could finally walk like a man. I'd like to say that's the last time i'll jump out of a burning first floor apartment window, but you never know how you'll react when there's orphans to save. And i suppose selflessness and courage are just my default settings. So, long story short..i went to lunch in terra mundi on calle lope de vega, parralel to calle huertas.

I've been coming here for years but had forgotten about it. It's ostensibly a gallego restaurant and it has some distinct advantages.

  1. It's huge. So during the week you've a good chance of getting a table. Although i have had to wait on a sunday
  2. They serve til later than most. You can still get fed if you roll in at 4pm
  3. They put their daily menu on their website so you don't have to waste time hobbling there only to find there's nothing on the menu you fancy.
  4. The food is generally very good.

The owner often holidays is ballyconneely in co.galway and goes seal watching. Not that anybody reading this will care about that, but my family come from county galway and their surname is conneely…so, as bally just means village i suppose this is my family seat. And i have heard tell that we're silkies…mythical creatures who live as seals in the water and shed their skins to live on land. As humans they're conspicuous for their physical beauty…so that rings true. And you should see me balance a ball on my nose!

Anyway, i decided to be adventurous with my first course and ordered the chilled melon soup with a foam of margarita.

I thought it was pretty rank, to be honest. But then i don't really like melon very much…i was thinking of watermelon when i ordered. I was a bit worried leaving so much in case I offended the staff, and waitress did seem very concerned abd, after checking, which languages i could speak, offered to bring me another course. I declined the offer and explained i just found it too sweet. Which seemed to satisfy her. Second time i've ordered badly in as many weeks, first time I seem to have satisfied a lady.Lost my touch.

Before i forget, a word about the wine. Included in the menu is wine from galicia…not sure what type of wine it is..but it's wine. It comes in red, white and rosado. In my experience, ordering red or white will get you half a bottle…but if you order the rosado (which is dry and fruity) you always seem to get a full bottle. So that's what i ordered. Also, the bread is very good…big hunks of galician bread from the mueseo del pan gallego, which sells the best bread in the city, albeit with very little competition.

Spoilt for choice for the main course, i'd have had anything on there except the ever present lacon con grelos…a boiled ham hock with turnip tops…which brings back far too traumatic memories of irish food in the 1970s. Decided to go with the chicken marinated in greek yoghurt because i was seated near the serving hatch and i could see the food going out

Very nice indeed. Not sure what the sauce in the ramikin was, but i mopped it up with my hunky bread.

The coffee in here is awful, so i always order dessert. And usually the same thing…a tart of biscuits and chocolate called biscuit and chocolate tart. I didn't take a picture as i can't get excited about desserts. I feel about desserts how uncle monty feels about flowers. No wonder they're called tarts!

So that was it. 10.50€. Not bad, despite my disastrous choice of first course

 

La Caleta

WordPress gives you various information about visitors to your blog: which pages they read and which country they were in and if they came by way of a google search, what they were googling that led them to your blog. The other day someone found my blog by searching pie drinking porn. I imagine he or she must have been very disappointed with my recipe for oxtail shepherd's pie. And people looking for hot lesbian badgers are going to be equally disappointed with this post.

La Caleta has been around for qute a few years but recently moved up the hill from Calle Tres Peces to Calle Santa Isabel and into a huge space that used to be an Indian restaurant. Calle Tres Peces is undergoing quite a change these days…what used to be the most depressing old man bar el aperitivo has been done up nicely in the way these places are transformed by dimmed lighting, half decent music and decent free tapas. Opposite is la infinita….book shop cafe with wifi. Don't order the house white…i have a glass of it in my hand at the moment and it's ropey to say the least.

Back to La Caleta. It's a gaditana bar which means it's a Cadiz themed place. Massive picture of Camarón on the wall as you walk in. Videos of Camarón on big screen at the back. If you've never listened to La Leyenda del Tiempo then I beg you to do so.

Cadiz is also famous for battered and fried fish which is served in paper. Sound familiar? Battering was invented by the Phoenicians apparently and Cadiz was a Phoenician city. There you go. I'm not sure when the English got into battering.

 

I order a racion of the bienmesabe. This is chunks of cazón, a sort of flat shark (rock salmon in english..if you've ever heard of that) which is cut into chunks and battered. The batter definitely has a bit of cumin in it. Bienmesabe is one of those things that is great when done well, and appalling when, more often than not, fucked up. A bit like the way a pint of Guinness can be the best thing in the world, or quite the opposite. I ordered it as I assumed it would be ther stock in trade as a Cadiz style bar. Very nice.

Not cheap though, that racion and a doble of beer was 13€

Now….to cruise the internet for sexy young ferrets covered in gravy

 

Alma Lusa

Madrid doesn’t have many Portuguese restaurants, although Portugal is only next door. It may have something to do with their closely held belief that Portuguese food is just bacalhau (British food is just fish & chips; Italian food is just pizza & pasta; Turkish food is just döners.)

It doesn’t really help that 2 of the 3 Portuguese restaurants in this major european capital are bloody awful. There was a great one on a side street off the glorietta in Embajadores but it closed down a couple of years ago. Its location probably didn’t help business, as hordes of junkies are unlikely to be good for business…unless your business is heroin centred in some way, obviously.

I came upon Alma Lusa by chance. I walk to work and back, regularly changing my routes to throw off the CIA who might be planning some extreme rendition on my arse. Every time I’ve gone past it I’ve thought to myself “I must remember to go there,” and then almost immediately forgotten to ever go there. Not today though. I finally went there.

Forgetting to dispel any myths about Portuguese food at all, I ordered the bacalhau Zé Pipo. To be honest, even if it were true that Portuguese food was just bacalao, the fact there’s a couple of hundred different bacalhau recipes makes it a pointless dismissal of a national cuisine…you might as well just dismiss Spanish food as being 90% dead pig.

Ze Pipo is a loin of bacalhau fried, covered in an onion sauce and then, bizarrely, covered with mayonaisse. It usually comes served with mash, but they were out of it today.

My mate had a francesinha. A francesinha is a sandwich. In the same way that Dmitri Hvorostovsky singing The Death of Rodrigo from Verdi’s Don Carlo, is some bloke having a bit of a sing song

The bill was about 20€ each which included a bottle of vinho verde, sardine paste and bread, a dessert and two coffees. Only one waiter for whole place but he didn’t seemed flustered at all and we weren’t left waiting at any point. I assume he was Portuguese as he only spoke to me in (very good) English, which is what the Portuguese like to do.

Not bad at all. It’s on the edge of Chueca, parallel to Calle Barquillo and next to Plaza del Rey. There’s two really nice bars next to each other on Plaza del Rey if you fancy a drink before or after…one’s called Sifón and the other one is called….let’s just call it the bar next door to Sifón.

Here is the restuarant’s website…http://www.almalusa.es/

*The first picture of the interior is from the internet, I forgot to take a photo. The restaurant wasn’t empty, there was a large party of diners in that corner. The quote is written on the wall, it isn’t superimposed. That metal thing hanging on the wall isn’t an iron-age bra, it’s a cataplana (copper cooking pot from Portugal).

**sometimes I’m writing bacalao in Espaneesh, sometimes I’m writing bacalhau in Portugeish. I’m mixed up. I’m not going to write Salt-cod because I don’t call it that myself and don’t know anybody who calls it anything other than bacalao/bacalhau. I tend to always pronounce it in my comedy Portuguese accent anyway. Which is probably only comedic to me. Possibly deeply offensive to anybody Portuguese, though they’d probably assume I was trying to do a Dutch accent.

 

DAVE’S KISS OF DEATH:THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED. BOOOH!

La Dominga

ladominga (6 of 6)I found myself wandering around Malasaña on a Wednesday afternoon and the window of lunching opportunity was about to close so I picked La Dominga almost at random. What I liked was that there was a choice of two first courses and two main courses, so I’m less likely to be racked by regret and the feeling I’ve made a terrible error.

ladominga (4 of 6)1st course: cream of beetroot,carrot and leek soup with a touch of goat cheese or prawn gyosas served on aubergines done in spicy honey

2nd course: beef stew with tomato and rice or crunchy fishburger with provenzal style chips.

ladominga (1 of 6)I asked for the prawn gyozas and told them to make them blurry.

Nice. I’d only ever had gyozas fried before, but these were boiled. Nice. The aubergines weren’t particularly spicy or honey-y but nice all the same.

ladominga (2 of 6)Crunchy fish burger for main course. Nice and crunchy. Looks like in Provençal they put some chopped parsley on their chips.

I had cuajada (milk curd) with honey for pudding. Didn’t take a photo, it’s only a dessert. Not worth my time.

ladominga (3 of 6)The food was good and not too much of it and it’s a nice enough place (quite dark, so ideal for dates if you’re ugly) but there is a caveat. Instead of the traditional jug/bottle/carafe of wine they just give you a glass, and it’s impossible to make one glass of wine last 3 courses and the waiting time between ordering and the courses…well, maybe not impossible per se, but not very enjoyable or even natural…and they charge you for any subsequent glasses which drives up the price of your lunch quite significantly. So bear that in mind if you’re thinking of investing in lunch here.

La Dominga

Taberna Griega

Maybe it’s a sense of solidarity with a nation even more royally fucked than the Spanish are currently (i say nation, but obviously I’m not including the rich in either country as in both they’re popping the Cristal like never before), but Greek food seems to be all the rage in Madrid at the moment. There’s two swanky Greek delicatessens in Malasaña, a Greek food stall selling Greek wine, olives, cheese and Greek dishes to take away by the ración in Lavapiés market, and in Chueca (a barrio which embraces greek style with a passion) there’s three Restuarants of a Catalan based Greek food franchise…these restaurants seem to pay more attention to decor than the food as they’re, frankly, disappointing and I don’t think I’d bother going back.

I was surprised to come across a Greek place in Pacifico, a far less fashionable barrio than Lavapiés, Malasaña or Chueca…and even more encouraged by the fact that it seemed to be a barrio-style place rather than an upmarket, chic, pretentious place…because it’s rare to eat well in such places.

Having said that, it isn’t cheap cheap with a menu del día weighing in at 17€ for 3 courses with wine. But, I reasoned to myself, it’s the price you pay in a city where any dish that isn’t resolutely Spanish is met with fear and loathing, or indifference at best.

I started with the prawn saganaki…prawns in a tomato sauce. Nice enough and plenty of prawns.

The wine was from Crete, which I must admit worried me slightly as I’ve not had positive experiences with wine from any erstwhile part of the Ottoman Empire…but it was actually really nice. Dry but fruity.

Main course, I had the beef suvlaki…mainly to see how it compared with mine, which I made a couple of times over summer. The photo…well, and the plate itself looks pedestrian to say the least, but the meat was tasty and obviously good quality. I got the impression it might have been marinaded in yoghurt as well as the usual souvlaki marinade…which was interesting…i shall try that myself. The chips were perfect too, and you can’t beat a perfectly cooked chip.

Pudding was a choice of things with nuts or almonds in, which would have had the unfortunate effect of killing me dead. I had one eye on a siesta…falling asleep on the sofa while listening to the most glamorous fixture of the day’s football fixtures, doncaster rovers against nottingham forest…so I persuaded the waiter to bring me a dessert that wouldn’t kill me, rather than a coffee which would have made a siesta impossible. He brought me a bowl of greek yoghurt with honey. Can’t complain about that

All in all, I’m glad I went and I will return. Also handy for pre-lunch vermouth in the celebrated Bodegas Casas

http://www.tabernagriega.info/

Washoku

In the San Fernando market in The people’s republic of Lavapiés you’ll find Wasoku sushi, which also sells Japanese products and hosts Japanese cultural events…they had a demonstration showing you how to wear a kimono last week.

You can order to takeaway or just so it’s ready when you arrive via whatsapp or sms on 672883139

I’d only ever had sushi and maki before I came here for the first time last month and randomly ordered the “picnic” menu box which was 3 onigiris (balls of rice filled with fish and a bit of seaweed around it and seeds on the outside…that is maybe the worst description ever…because I don’t think I’d ever had anything so tasty before) and 2 Inaris (pockets of…something…filled with tofu and seaweed…bloody lovely)…after missing my flight to Lisbon the other week, I went back to get a takeaway version for the 9 hour bus journey. Yeah…why take a 50 minute flight, when you can enjoy a 540 minute bus ride instead? Did almost make it worthwhile as I tucked into my tea in the car park of a service station on the outskirts of Badajoz at 12am

The other thing I should mention is that they’re really friendly in there and I was on first name terms with the half-spanish half-japanese woman who runs the place. Ok…obviously I should rephrase that, she knew my name and called me by it while I only registered her ethnicity and gender.

Went there today with a friend, who’s no stranger to Japan & Japanese food. He was impressed. 26€ between us. And complimentary saki after we finished eating.

There’s not many seats at the bar there, so while they prepared our food (15 minutes more or less) we nipped 15 metres away and had a pint of czech beer from the market’s beer shop/bar…for 2€. No…that’s not a typo…pint bottles of czech beer for less than the price of a 33cl of spanish beer in even the grottiest of old man’s bars.

I can’t recommend this place enough

La Otra Casa

This restaurant has been open for quite a while now, but this was my first time here. Principally that’s because they don’t open for lunch on a tuesday, and tuesday is my day off and the only day I regularly eat out. I should have told them this.

First of all, it looks like it’d be a good idea to book a table as they take lunch bookings and the place was full.

15€ for 3 courses, 17.50€ for 3 courses and pudding…wine NOT included. So, we’re talking a larger investment in lunch than almost everybody I know, or is worth knowing, would care to make. But, being a flash cabron with fistfuls of extra cash that needs to be spent before the taxman cometh, I steeled myself and continued on my sacred quest for a nice lunch in Madrid.

The waitress explained that there were 3 courses (excluding dessert) but not to worry because each serving was small. (She obviously didn’t make the same mistake so many make and take the bulging nature of my midriff for a belly, rather than what it actually is…a 6 pack so well defined it sort of bulges over my belt a bit. Or she thought I was pregnant)

First course….octopus in oil infused with rocket. Absolutely delicious. I’m not sure what the rocket oil actually brought to the party, but the octopus was perfectly cooked and tasty as eff.

Second course…potatoes stuffed with black pudding

( i realised after almost finishing that the black pudding contained pine nuts. I’ve never been sure if I was allergic to pine nuts – i’m allergic to most nuts – or not, so have just avoided them. But i’m still alive so, i must be o

3rd course. Oxtail lasagne

Must say, all the food was delicious and a nice amount too…I didn’t have to be rolled home to siesta as so often happens. My ma would think I needed psychological treatment or an exorcism if I told her there were restaurants I don’t go to because they give you too much.

Now…the painful part.

Look away if you’re of a sensitive nature.

Another point I should mention is….the menu is printed rather than chalked onto a black board like most places…and doesn’t change on a daily basis like most places. In fact, I don’t think it has changed since it opened. So if you go three times you’ll have had everything they serve.

No complimentary digestif either

Taberna J.Blanco

Seemed to me that I’d been flirting for a while too long with restaurants that fancied themselves as high class. It was time for me to return to my first love, the comforting bosom of an old-skool castizo menú del día. The Taberna J.Blanco fits the bill to a tee.

As an indecisive person who likes most food that isn’t cauliflower, I love to able to choose between just two options rather than five or six. First course..soup or scrambled eggs with garlic stalks; second course…roast leg of lamb or a fish we English speakers have never heard of in a tomato based sauce. (I know what it is…I’ve eaten it…no idea what it is in English, so I looked it up…Toothfish or zoologically speaking Trachinotus Goodei…told you you’d never heard of it.)

Front of house and the maître d’

Pre-lunch table

View to the left

Soup came in a tureen. Chickpeas and spinach cooked in the stock from a cocido madrileño (madrid stew. Don’t ask. You don’t want to know. Basically every form of meat and chickpeas cooked in a stew).

Very nice. I couldn’t finish whole tureen. Not sure if I was supposed to. Scoffed two bowls though.

Roast leg of lamb and chips. Lamb perfectly cooked. Tender as eff and falling away from the bone.

I’m not a big fan of pudding, but if I have a coffee I can’t siesta…and they had leche frita..fried milk! Well, milk with egg yolk, flour, sugar and cinammon. So I had that.

Delicious.

Three courses with bread and a carafe of wine for 9€. Not bad

Badila

Aside from Atlètico’s storming season, there’s not much good news coming out of Madrid. It’s cold and raining for one thing. I also heard something about massive unemployment, price and tax hikes, wage cuts, banks throwing thousands of families out of their homes and corrupt, immoral elected and unelected politicians.

Still, there is a ray of light…..Lavapiés doesn’t rest on the laurels of its reputation as best barrio in Madrid, rather it continues to strengthen this claim. Speaking of immoral, corrupt politicians….the last two ex-mayors of Madrid claimed they came to Lavapiés as students for cañas. Sure. And David Cameron and Michael Gove supplemented their meagre student grants as bare-knuckle fighters and drum n’bass dj’s.

Badila is one of the many nondescript old places that has been rejuvenated, by people who give a fuck. Strange how often this is happening in this corner of Madrid, while in others, nondescript old places seem to simply become parts of chains like 100 montaditos. Somehow, I can’t imagine a 100 montaditos opening up in Lavapiés. Though, like all bars and cafès here, I bet it’d still be packed most of the time.

Starters…sorry, you can’t see that very well…on offer was…cocido soup; bacalao croquettes; rocket salad with mozarella; pumpkin something…and what i had…spagghetini with speck, grated tomato and herbs

My jug of wine came with a plate of migas so I didn’t starve while they prepared my first course.

Migas is typical of Castilla-La Mancha. It’s all they eat there. I should know, there was a time I spent almost every weekend in a village the name of which I choose not to recall. Ok, Escalona. It’s of the fine tradition of peasant food made from stale bread and has pork products like bacon and chorizo mixed in there. It’s much nicer than it sounds.

Second course I was in two minds about. So I said to the waiter “I’m in two minds about the second course…the meatballs in saffron sauce or the eel stew with squid…what do you think?” He didn’t speak a word of English so was stumped. I shouted “for gawdsake!” Threw a glass at the wall, sat down, smoothed down my unruly barnet and simply asked the same question again, but in Spanish this time. He recommended the eel stew. So that’s what I had.

Absolutely bloody delicious…and so much I had trouble finishing it.

Dessert was the usual suspects…rice pudding, flan, fruit. I was too full anyway and plumped for a coffee.

At 13,50€ for a weekday menu, it’s obviously not the cheapest option…but i’d say it’s definitely worth it in terms of quality. And quantity. Decent amount of wine with it too…these posh looking places can often just give you a glass…which is difficult to stretch out over three courses.

I asked and they also do a menu at the weekend for 15,50€

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Le petit bistrot

Voulez vous!

I’m not sure what that actually means. I was in remedial french at school…sat with the kids that couldn’t read English never mind a second language. I was even threatened with suspension because the head of year told me I had deliberately failed the exam that was to stream us into levels after a couple of weeks of repeating the days of the week and some numbers. If only they’d tried to teach us how to say woodland animals in French, I’d probably have gone on to do a masters at the Sorbonne.

Despite this trauma, I’m decidedly a francophile. I’ve even met upwards of half a dozen French people and liked all of them. A croque monsieur is preferable to an english toasted cheese sandwich, a portuguese tosta mixta or a catalan bikini. However, I’ve never spent more than five days in Paris (where i was forced to share a bed with a young Matt Briggs, now of the South Yorkshire Fire Service. If ever I was destined to be bi-curious, having to share a bed with an excessively flatulent yorkshireman put the kybosh on that) and only two day trips to Calais. 50% of those trips are just a blur though.

Coincidentally, two unconnected friends had told me how good this restaurant was (i mean…two friends who don’t know each other. I’m not contrasting them with my connected mafia friends) AND I happened to get into a conversation just yesterday about french onion soup. As you do. So it seemed like fate when my friend/son Andy suggested we go there for lunch today.

It’s a bit pricey at the weekends, 17,50€ for the set 3 course menu…with a glass of wine…and the menu del día is replete with dishes that require a 3€, 4€ addition to this set price. There were 4 of us drinking wine, so the waiter left the bottle.

I went for onion soup. I just deleted the word french from that…because you wouldn’t say you had an italian pizza in a trattoria, would you?

I’ve never had onion soup before, i realised. And certainly not french style with bread and cheese on top. Tasty enough. I wouldn’t mind experimenting myself with this.

Main course, with my sophisticated pallet i opted for the hachis parmentier…oui, tres chic, non?

…..it’s basically shepherd’s pie…and what could be better than that. Good to see that British food so impresses the french they have their own versions. Mind you, the french did more for British culture than any other invader of the land…so I think it’s right that we pay them back with delicious food. In the background is Andy’s burger with goat’s cheese. Never sure where to put that apostrophe to make the possessive…how many goats are involved in the making of cheese? And not like it’s theirs anyway…they’d not be able to spread it on their baguette, what with their impractical cloven hooves.

For pudding, once again the French looked to their former subjects for inspiration…rice pudding with nutmeg.

Nice experience and a pleasant place. I think I would have preferred a surly waiter in a wine stained vest and a gauloise hanging from his lip rather than a reasonably polite and attentive fella. Bit more than I would normally spend on a lunch. But at the end of the day…sommes comme un coq en pâte

(Thanks to the lovely Caroline for the second photo…as i managed to delete mine from my phone after stuffing the shepherd’s pie hachis parmentier into my gut)

Tumi: restaurante peruano

I’ve never had peruvian food…and as we waited patiently for the waiter to take our order…and as our patience wore thinner and thinner…I thought I never would.

This restaurant opened last summer on the soon to be newly refurbished Calle Santa Isabel. I think this particular local has changed purpose, name and cuisine every year I’ve lived here. At the moment it is Tumi Restaurante Turístico Peruano.

I hadn’t realised that Peruvian food had the reputation as being one of the best cuisines in Latin America. I also read later that Peruvian food was the fad de jour in London (last year it was Spanish food, I believe). Another surprise was the culinary influence of the many Chinese immigrants to Peru over the years.

Tumi is brightly lit and decorated with pictures of famous Peruvians. Well, I assume they’re famous…I couldn’t think of any apart from Ivan Zamorano. And it turned out he was Chilean.

It was a weekend and the menu del día was 13€ for 3 courses with a glass of wine or a beer.

I ordered fish ceviche as I’ve never had it. You might say all ceviche is fish…but I’d stop you there with a waving finger and a tut-tut…apparently they do prawn ceviche too.

It’s thinly sliced white fish which is “cooked” in Tiger”s milk..lemon juice, lime juice..not sure really..there might be some CharlieSheenMilk in there too. Served on lettuce with red onion…some weird sort of alien corn on the side and a slice of sweet potato/yam. Nae bad.

We waited another good while for second course. I had the feeling the waiter and the woman behind the bar…and the cook…were all the same person and the waiter was having to do some sort of elaborate Inspector Clouseau quick change routine…for some obscure reason.

Finally main courses arrived…but the food we’d ordered wasn’t the food which arrived and had been destined for a different table. Another quick change…a bit of cooking…a change back into the waiter disguise..and we received our main courses twenty minutes later. Mine was a beef stew with beans served with enough rice to feed a hungry unit of the Shining Path after a hard day’s class war.

It was tasty enough. Slightly…cool…but, but to be honest, I spent enough lunchtimes eating tepid food in lokantalar in Istanbul that the heat of a dish doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

Pudding was a peruvian version of flan. Which was just flan really, except maybe a bit bigger than you’d generally get in Spain.

Three courses in almost three hours. Not that it makes much difference to me, I have a sad empty life (hence this blog)…but if you fancy giving this restaurant a go, you might have to pencil it in for a whole afternoon. Of course, they could have just been having a bad day…maybe short of staff….a waiter might have called in sick with a sore thumb which meant he couldn’t comfortably hold a pen….like a teacher in a certain institution did recently.

THIS RESTAURANT HAS SINCE CLOSED. SORRY

San Bruno – stalwart

Second day running I’ve not been able to get a table at Los Chuchis, so we turned around walked up the hill (with a brief stop in Lo Maximo for a spritz, which is a manly drink…only for them to be out of campari…which is equally manly on its own. you heard it here first) into the welcoming arms of the Taberna San Bruno.
I’ve been a regular in here since moving to Madrid….well, since my second year in Madrid, in my first year I was working for an international academy (which will remain nameless) who prefer to keep teachers on starvation wages to keep them lean and hungry for a spot of teaching.

San Bruno has even entered my spanish lexicon as a verb…

¿Dave, qué estás haciendo?¡Estoy sanbruniando!

While there’s always a friendly welcome and a vermouth while they prepare my table, the food can be hit and miss. It’s almost never actually bad but it can occasionally be pedestrian. The litre carafe of wine and post lunch digestif of patxaran sort of makes up for this occasional slip. Just as occasionally though, they outdo themselves. Today started with a bit of a miss.

The revuelto de marisco (scrambled eggs with prawns) was a bit so-so…and i didn’t fancy much else on the first course menu.

The roast leg of lamb for the main course, however, was a triumph. Very meaty and tender and bloody tasty. Served with sliced spuds cooked in stock

Homemade flan to finish, which was lovely although possibly difficult to eat while driving or parachuting…if only they could invent some sort of mobile flan for such occasions.

(That’s a film reference btw…)

I forgot to take a photo of it though.

As it was almost xmas, Willy the cuban waiter (who speaks german as well as he speaks english..which is very well) gaves us two free glasses of patxaran.

Weekends and fiestas the menu is 15€ and during the week it’s 10. Was 7,00€ when i first started coming here. During the war

Place up the road has just put its weekend menu up from 15€ to 20 in one fell swoop. Thank god for the 1% pay rise i got for the last three years

¡Hoy he estado sanbruniando!

 

Los Chuchis

I was told about this place by Bryn from rastrobar/linguafranca…lucky he did as I never walk up that part of Calle Amparo and it would have gone unnoticed and untried.

It’s a great example of an old man bar that’s been done up with taste and passion…but there’s even better news….wait for it…

…wait for it….

The chef is English!!

You might be able to see from there that they have a couple of real ales in there…and a menu del dia at a very reasonable 9,50€ or 12€ at the weekends. Closed on mondays.

This was the menu today.

I went for the soup, which was very nice indeed.

And of course…sausages and mash…with onion gravy. The sausages were lush…i asked where they bout them from…but they said they imported them themselves.

I’m not a fan of hp sauce…but i took a photo of it anyway.

I had a coffee instead of a pudding…but it came with a biscuit and a hazelnut chocolate.

There aren’t many tables in there, so i’m imagining that when word gets out that there’s an English chef plying his trade in the ‘hood there’ll be people fighting over tables.

La Alhambra

Despite being a people who are instinctual anarchists, the spanish are ultra-conservative when it comes to food. Not just what you eat…it has to be Spanish cuisine, preferably cooked by your mother or grandmother; contain no herbs other than parsley; certainly no spices….but also when you eat, there is a definite window of opportunity when it comes to mealtimes, miss that window and you’ll have to forage for yourself. Luckily there is an oasis in this parochial gastronomic desert…and that oasis is….The People’s Republic of Lavapiès.

On Calle Tribulete, for example, there is La Alhambra. The kitchen is open all day and friendly waiters serve Moroccan cuisine at more than reasonable prices.

I tend to come here if the window of opportunity for lunch has snapped shut before i’ve managed to fill my belly…or on the odd evening i’m not working till an unearthly hour and I fancy an affordable meal that I haven’t cooked myself.

Today I had stewed lamb with chips and rice. You can’t ever overdo the carbs.

(Unless you’re on the Atkins’ diet)

I should point out that for cultural or religious reasons…this restaurant is dry…so you wash your food down with a jug of water.

Finish it off with a glass of hot, sweet mint tea. (Very good at combatting wind, is mint tea..should you suffer from it)

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