The best of Madrid, part two: the best places for casual dining

After fine dining, Julia Pérez guides us among not-to-be-missed homely places, grills, markets and different influences...

Rodrigo de la Calle, one of the most interesting s

Rodrigo de la Calle, one of the most interesting signatures in the New Spanish Cuisine, is also the author of one of the best paellas in the country, at Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid (photo paella power)

The second part of our special report on Madrid. After episode number one: Five hot fine dining places in Madrid

Taberna Pedraza (grill and traditional cuisine)
(Recoletos 4, +34913428240, 45/60 euros per person)
Carmen Carro Santiago Pedraza has reassembled his activity concentrating the offer of the new Taberna Pedraza, which has moved to a larger place, in the heart of the Salamanca neighbourhood. On top of the specialties from the old taverna we now have others like the famous Cocido madrileno, one of the best in town, and other dishes that will make you return like the famous Potato tortilla, in the typical style of Betanzos, in Galicia; Ham croquette; Black Beasain pudding with apples; Fried eggs with pisto; Russian salad; Tiger mussels; Callos de terneraCocochas with pilpil... and a succulent repertoire of grilled meat. Pedraza carefully selects every product and checks the network of suppliers: charcuterie and fresh ibérico meat from ArturoSánchez; anchovies from Sanfilipo; cocochas from Alberto Ferreres; vintage sardines from La Góndola (Portugal); red meat from Cárnicas Lyo and cheese from Poncelet. As for the dessert, choose the very tasty Quesada pasiega or the classic Leche frita.

Señor Martín (seafood)
(General Castaños 13, Madrid, +34917957170, 45/60 euro)
It’s the natural extension of the innovative fishmonger that you can find inside the Mercado de San Miguel. It aspires to become a refuge for fish-lovers. No meat, not even jamon; only fish and seafood prepared in simple recipes. The Salmorejo is served with prawns, the croquettes are only made with cod or txangurro, and the stew is only made with fish. Alfonso Castellanos directs the kitchen. He’s an expert professional who makes use of all the techniques available - embers, frying, plancha, steam, oven and casserole – to prepare selected products. The heat of the embers can open clams, crustaceans, berberechospercebes and octopus; and perfectly cooks red prawns, lobsters, calamari and anchovies and bream, sea bass, turbot or besudo. Fish like cod neck or virrey are served with a light fried mirepoix and cut into portions in front of the client.

Señor Martín, seafood specialties

Señor Martín, seafood specialties

Quinqué (homely Spanish cuisine)
(Apolonio Morales 3, +34910732892, 35/45 euro)
casa de comida with a contemporary style, very popular among the inhabitants of the Chamartín neighbourhood, in north Madrid. Carlos Griffo and Miguel García, who trained at Casa Marcial (in the Asturias), StreetXoLa Bien Aparecida or Bibo, offer rich dishes, mostly with northern roots, featuring elegant simplicity. Homemade specialties, very current, and with moderate prices. All the menu, full of well-known recipes (Asturian FabadaPisto with egg, Rabo guisado, Cod in salsa verde), offers the option of half portions. In the magnificent Croquetas de jamón, one can notice the fine school offered by Casa Marcial. The vegetables with berberechos (“edible hearts”) are another emblem dish. The same goes for the Partridge in escabeche, the Cod Tortilla, the Sea urchins in hollandaise sauce... The rice with milk and burnt sugar, unquestionably Asturian, is monumental.

Julián de Tolosa (grill)
(Calle de Ibiza, +34910607210, 50/70 euro)
Steakhouse Casa Julián de Tolosa Bajo opened a second restaurant in town under the direction of Iñaki Gorrotxategi, son of the famous master asador Matías Gorrotxategi, considered the father of modern grill. A faithful follower of his father’s doctrine, Iñaki built a sloped parrilla with metal bars inside a network of refractory bricks. It’s closed on three sides, so as to create the effect of an oven, increasing the power of the heat. Before grilling the ribs, he covers them in cooking salt after they have marinated slowly, then he puts them in contact with the flames, which is crucial for their crispiness. They’re very juicy chuletas, crispy on the outside and tender and hot on the inside. He serves them in small portions, having removed the salt, and the cooking length is never a choice of the guests, but of the master asador. The meat is cut from the large cage ribs of old cows, matured for a short amount of time, never longer than 25 days. The menu, rather short, includes some desserts: the best of all is the Cujada (curd).

Iñaki Gorrotxategi, asador in Julián de Tolosa, an interesting new place in Madrid. Grill is the specialty (photo

Iñaki Gorrotxategi, asador in Julián de Tolosa, an interesting new place in Madrid. Grill is the specialty (photo

Paella (mangiare al mercato)
(Mercado de San Miguel, plaza de San Miguel 5, 8/16 euro)
Eating in a market means you get closer to products and their origins, but it also implies that you have to tolerate some nuisance, like noise, confusion, crowds... Mercado de San Miguel, not-to-be-missed by tourists in Madrid, is the location of one of the best options when you want to eat paella, the dish that from Valencia has become universal, so much that abroad it identifies all of Spanish cuisine. The idea belongs to talented Rodrigo de la Calle, a chef famous for having developed the concept of gastrobotanica and having given a thrust to vegetal cuisine in Spain. Every day, in a small space, a young team prepares dozens of tapas and portions of rice (more than 500 kilos per week) with prices ranging from 8 to 16 euros. In the menu: PaellaFideuà and black rice with calamari and prawns, Rice and vegetables and, among others, a touristy Spanish paella, inspired by the late French chef Joël Robuchon (De la Calle was his advisor when it came to vegetables), the house’s blockbuster, despite the fact he has included chorizo, which is blasphemy for purists. In Madrid it’s not easy to find some good paella, and this one is simply the best; so good it is worth tolerating the cons of the place.

Soma (Iberian-Korean)
(Calle de Bárbara de Braganza, Madrid, +34662675576, 70/90 euros)
The cuisine of young Luke Jang is one of the most original in the city’s scene. Contemporary and light, it moves between his Korean origins and the huge influence that Spain has had on this ex chef from el Bulli. There’s plenty of original details and hints at his culinary experiences all around the world. Original recipes which he interprets with the techniques he learnt during his stay at Roses as well as at Mugaritz, restaurants where he spent many a season. A long table seating 16 people and a menu with 11 steps, this is the only offer. At 2.30 p.m. and at 9.30 pm, every day the lively ceremony begins, only upon reservation. Kimchi, Korean ssam, Tartare of red tuna with plum vinaigrette, monkfish liver, cream of wasabi... He doesn’t overdo it with hot spices; on the contrary, he often uses sweet notes. A cuisine with intense flavours, full of memories, thoughts and ideas with a balanced and aesthetic outcome.

Luma (Iberian-Peruvian)
(Valenzuela 7, +34.910.691205 e +34.686.740724, 60/80 euros)
For some time now Omar Malpartida, one of the most elegant Peruvian chefs in and out of Peru, has been working at this project. It is born form the desire of joining two worlds in a mouthful. Products from Peru and from Spain meet creatively and inside a fascinating pantry. All this, in a charming and beautiful place. Luma is a way of interpreting the country from the Andes from afar. The dishes are born on the edge between two geographical areas. They are based on distant ingredients, that complete one another and give life to personal recipes that however do not reproduce the original codes. A personal, libertarian and risky vision, that tries to recover the roots, to think them over. A different and enriching gastronomic experience, rich of sensitivity and taste.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


Dal Mondo

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