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 Polonesa

Summer is long gone, so I’ve started feeling a bit ridiculous walking around with my enviable beach body. It’s getting bleedin’ chilly so I thought I needed to work on my draw dropping curves. What better way to do that than get some carbs down me. Now where can I find stodgy food aside from 98% of Spanish food? Something to put some meat on my bones and reduce this infernal cold..I know…northern european food, or better yet, eastern european food. A colleague told me about this Polish restaurant not far from the epicentre of Madrid. It’s in Pacifico/Menendez Palayo…a barrio I have previously mentioned as a hidden gem of a barrio for eating and drinking out…and only a 5 minute walk from Atocha.
I should mention my relationship with Poland. I’m from North Notts and we’ve had a large Polish population there since they came over to help the allies defeat fascism, and while Elizabeth II was practicing her zieg heils in the mirror while wearing some godaweful hat paid for by the tax payer, Poles living in Britain were either flying Spitfires in the Battle of Britain or they were mining coal to assist the war effort. I went to a catholic school so we were mainly Paddies or Poles. This is back in the day, before Rupert Murdoch and the Hitler supporting owner of the Daily Heil decided that they needed to demonise Poles while taking a short breath from making up stories about Islam. Not sure why they decided to demonise eastern europeans, but I suppose it’s the same as any target for these scumbags…less of them and easier to identify as they actually have skills, speak more than one language and are actually hard at work…unlike, say, your Nicholas Faräge type who has never done a proper day’s work in his life and has no obvious skill or talent. Also, if you can tell stupid people that they are being attacked by “others” they won’t notice the actual attacks to their way of life by the greedy priviliged natives…such as selling off the post office, the NHS, the land regestry, child protective services for fuck sake (which will be renamed “Child PRODUCTIVE servicing Inc” and a proportion of abused children will be sold off to a paedophile ring of British aristocrats. No…i definitely didn’t mention anyone whose name was Andrew Prince or anything similar)
Anyway, long and short of it. I grew up among British Poles and we lived quite happily together before they became enemies of the state. I went on a short holiday to Krakow when I was in my 20s…this was in the days before cheap air travel so I went by train as it was cheaper.
What I noticed about Poland as the train crossed over from germany into poland was that it seemed like we’d suddenly travelled back 50 years in time. The fields were suddenly being ploughed by oxen rather than tractors and there were far more carts going down the nearby street than 4b4s. The buffet car of the train suddenly had an actual stove and they were selling hot food rather than microwaived food or crisps….and you could afford it! and a beer!
The week or so I spent in Krakow, I generally ate in a mexican restuarant because i could afford to and it wasn’t something i could ever hope to do back in London, and in my head i liked mexican food. Also, they had really good looking waitresses in the Mexican restuarant….i think they were poles but at the time I’m not sure if i’d have noticed any difference between polish and mexican.

Fast forward to the present day and i can get by in Mexican and can order a beer in Polish (well, just by saying “beer” and holding the bottle up and moving it from one side to the other with my fingers and thumb to show that the glass bottle is empty). A colleague at work told me ages ago about this polish restaurant not far away from my gaff and recommended it. Today is a holiday in Madrid Capital (because of a statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that was found buried in the ground. No, don’t laugh…I don’t turn my nose up at a day off work, so keep your titters to yourself!) so i thought i’d try it out.
It’s called La Polonesa (The Polish) so i don’t suppose there are many polish restaurants in madrid to confuse with it.

http://restaurantelapolonesa.es/restaurante/menu-platos-principales-madrid

I thought I was ordering 2 starters…but the light was poor and I’m still not in the habit of taking my glasses out with me, because i very rarely need them. Turns out I ordered two main courses, which might explain why i was full up after the first and had to have 90% of the second to take away in a doggy bag. Because it was a holiday, there was no menu del dia. Hence my strange order and beer instead of wine. To be fair, i’d have more confidence in polish beer than polish wine….call me a rascist.
For my first main course i had the meat pierogi which are stuffed, steamed pies similar to dimsun but way bigger and fuller and came attop fried onions. They were really nice.

For my second main course, I ordered the bigos….which i remembered avoiding in Poland itself but had a bowl of it on the train between Krakow and Berlin, with a cold beer. And it was delicious. a hearty meat and smoked sausage stew with sauerkraut. 20 or 25 years later and in a (stationary) restaurant on the other side of europe, it was still delicious….but just way way way too much of it. If i hadn’t got it put in a doggy back, i’d still be there trying to get through it

wasn’t cheap as i was dining ala carte like Kanye might. two large main courses and two large (pint) bottles of Polish “okocim” beer…21€…though my lunch to take to work tomorrow is sorted too.

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

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!

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/

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

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

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