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!

Bodegas Casas

The barrio of Pacifico is an undiscovered gem, a gold mine, the milk. To mix the metaphorical. And the languages.

Bodegas Casas was founded in 1923 by Don Gregorio. His father was a shepherd who, for some reason, had a large collection of clay pots, which can be seen around the bodega. But not in this photo. What with me being rubbish with a camera.

The wee iron fence there serves the purpose of separating the gentlemen from the ladies. Hard to tell if this is enforced still, as I was there on my todd.

Possibly the best vermouth you’ll have in Madrid. Or anywhere I’ve been, at least…which is a…handful…of places.

The vermut used to be homemade until PC “has the world gone mad” came in and ruined everything. I’m not even allowed to beat my wife anymore. Or own slaves

You can buy a litre bottle to take away with you for €5,20.

I was tempted

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

Casa Zoilo

Somehow Casa Zoilo has managed to elude me for the last 9 years…not many bars in my barrio can say that. Possibly this is because you’d have no reason to walk along Calle de la Huerta del Bayo…unless you lived there..or, like me, you were on a Yelp-inspired wild goose chase and looking for a non-existent portuguese restaurant called Casa Janes on that street.

It certainly puts the old in old-skool. A friendly old couple run it. There’s a massive old fridge…from the 1930s or so i’d say in behind the second part of the bar…and you can buy various things to take away…litres or cans of beer, soda water, litre bottles of wine or sherry.

Very little to say about it. It has no pretensions…there’s a telly in the corner of the back bar, there’s the ubiquitous slot machine in the corner, music doesn’t come from a computer or a disc jockey (who could tell the difference anyway) but a radio sitting behind the bar.

I got a caña for 1,20€ and it came with a small bowl of patatas revolconas…mashed potatoes mixed with paprika and topped with fresh pork scratchings. A work of genius that combines two of humankind’s greatest achievements: a) mashed potato b) pork scratchings.

There’s no comedor so if your wee tapa isn’t going to satisfy you, you’ll have to make do with raciones of cold meats or cheese….or bocadillos filled with..cold meats and/or cheese. The bocadillos ranged from 2,50 to 3,50€.

All in all, a taberna muy castiza

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