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Everything’s very nice as soon as you cross the threshold. Before you’ve had time to scoot your chair up to the table, a staff member approaches with a tempting trolley. Generous pours of wine, a selection of vermouths and more to prepare the palate. It’s hard to say no to a Barbiana sherry or a Galician vermouth. You look over the menu while waiting for your drink to arrive. Everything looks good. You spot the house speciality – potatoes mashed with gizzard and jowls – along with seasonal recommendations and some 20 other dishes (starters and mains) that, thanks to their half portions, let you choose your own adventure through the outstanding and polished kitchen of César Martín, who moves about happily here and there in his open workspace.
Then, when you think you’ve worked out a plan of attack, Martín’s wife, Marina Launay, comes along, and throws in two or three off-menu items. Her work as head of the youthful and efficient service staff is impeccable. Launay is pur empathy, cordiality, and balanced attention – an attitude that helps create an informal ambience while adding to the whole dining experience. We don’t say no to anything. We try the pâté and rilletes (tasty and light, they’re fantastic) which lend themselves to the recommended pairing of the house: a Breton cider. Bingo!
We order wines by the glass (the unusual and attractive selection prompts us to want to try more than one) and the dishes keep coming: asparagus salad painted in brine, a splendidly unctuous and flavourful ‘salmorejo’ with sardine, bonito with sautéed jalapeño and miso, grilled beef ribs that are cooked to perfection and melt away from the bone, the best flan you’ll try all year, and a board of French cheeses from the trusted Bernard Antony.
Here you can see the forest and the trees. And in detail. The creations are not lost in the black hole of plating them; the purpose is to venerate the product, using a signature and technique that gives the starring role over to magnificent raw materials. The chef reads between the lines. This cuisine, which isn’t French nor Mediterranean nor Castilian, which doesn’t have a clear definition but more a pleasant naturalness, lets you fully enjoy it, and feel comforted, like the emotions of a summer beer advert.
This restaurant is a must for any food fan. Faitful clients already know it and have been visiting regularly (at least once a season) for a while now. The price also supports their own declaration that it’s a spot where you’ll want to return. Be sure to book in advance, especially at weekends.
Plaza del Descubridor Diego de Ordás, 1
|Transport:||Ríos Rosas (M: L1)|
|Opening hours:||Mon closed; Tue-Sat 12.30pm-midnight; Sun 12.30pm-4pm|