This venue is closed.
A warm welcome to Enrique Valentín with his Bar Bas, commissioned by the H10 Hoteles chain of hotels, in an area peppered with places that seem to be trying to outdo each other for the prize of worst taste, worst service, most fried menu items and all kinds of palate punishments. For 20 years I worked just opposite this gleaming bar, and the daily drama was where to go to eat. Others have tried to make it work, but haven't quite been able to. But now, Valentín, with success stories such as Casa Paloma and Chez Cocó on his CV, brings good taste and quality as well as a lovely ambience and good decor.
But what really matters is what the food is like when it gets to the table, especially after you've seen tempting products at the bar, all of top quality and prepared by Valentín and a young team. The home-made crisps that are made to order are a blissful place to start. I ordered what I consider to be the litmus test of tapas: anchovies, Russian salad, a croquette and a creamy potato-and-onion omelette. And they all pass with honours. Valentín also had me try the pairing of a very well-dressed whitebait ('seitó'/'boquerón') with an anchovy ('anxova'/'anchoa') and accompanied with a stately olive. The omelette ('truita'/'tortilla') wasn't only cooked to perfection but it also had a soufflé effect: when pierced with a fork it deflated just a bit, a sure sign that the eggs were beaten well.
The dish of the day – wild mushrooms with potatoes – was superb, and customers at a nearby table raved about the oxtail with red wine and mashed potatoes as well as the tripe with garbanzos, if you're feeling daring. The veal meatballs with squid are exquisite, the meat cooked spot on. The menu is divded between tinned tapas, classics, smoked, home-spun, vegetables and stews. The cuisine doesn't abandon tradition but presents traditional dishes in a modern way and with good taste, and it's served by a staff that's efficient and friendly, which you won't likely find in the surrounding establishments. Bar Bas is very welcome, and let's hope Valentín can keep up the good work.