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Londoner in Madrid

10 Cool places in Madrid to check out this Spring – Part 1(1 to 5)

March 14, 2017

Happy mid-week AND mid-March folks!

2017 is well underway. That means that fun times lie ahead, i.e. longer, sunny days and the long weekends – puenteriffic. More time for terrazas, cañas, pop up markets and rooftop hopping. More people are out and about…and of course Madrid never ceases to impress, with no end of new openings in recent times like, errr, always. 

So perhaps now would be a good time to run through a coupleeeeeee of these new openings and in general some interesting haunts for you lovely people. In case you would like to go check them out, Beastie Boys style.

 

Ready? Here we go!

 

10 Betsy tips for you depending on what you are after. But just don’t be after baos, please don’t go there. No baos here*

Part 1

 

C IS FOR COOL

1. BRAND NEW HOTSPOT – PEYOTE SAN

Where: Marqués de la Ensenada 16 (or: Génova 28).  Right by Colón  

Price range: Mid-possibly ever so slightly overpriced (to be “PC”) 

Why you need to go:

Japanese-Mexican is the cool new fusion.  Peyote San is the latest glam, cool, intriguing restaurant to open as part of Grupo Larrumba’s expanding empire. In fact, it is next to the über cool Habanera, having replaced Santiago Segura’s Oh Bla Bla restaurant.

They promise “gastronomical delirium” with their innovative dishes, bringing together the best of both popular cuisines. Decor-wise, expect a bright and spacious interior, arty oriental paintings and cool folk. Lastly, the cocktail offering is headed up by the popular bartender Carlos Moreno (from his Charly’s Bar days), thus guaranteed to surprise and innovate.

FYI: Peyote is a type of cactus and San is a Japanese word my male friends like to add onto names. That’s Ryan Gosling-san to you.

     

 

2.       CREATIVE VEGETARIAN FINE DINING – COPENHAGEN

Where: Denmark. Only joking: José Ortega y Gasset 73. Barrio Salamanca.

Price range: Mid, very good value for money. Menú del día for €14.90

Why you need to go:

Vegetarian and non-veggies alike rejoice – finally a restaurant that has put the creativity and sophistication (back) into vegetarian food. Copenhagen, despite its name, is a Valencian Group and they opened their fifth restaurant – Madrid’s Copenhagen – only in July 2016. Having said that, the simple, minimalist yet elegant design is delightfully Scandinavian and the food is tasty, original and stunning, perhaps this is the influence from our Northern neighbours?  In any case, make sure you try…EVERYTHING.

On a serious note, I highly recommend the fake chorizo, the fake prawns, the “you either love it or hate it” seaweed dish as well as this beautiful egg concoction.

      

 

3. CHAMBERÍ COOL HANGOUT EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK – RANDOM

Where: Caracas, 21. Opposite El Columpio, also belonging to the same Group (Le Cocó)

Price range: Mid-Upper mid

Why you need to go:

Even though I love the decoration in Peyote San, I have more of a #placecrush on Random. Just because I prefer slightly a more intimate, darker, atmospheric, luxurious, chic setting. Don’t we all?!…Beautiful attention to detail, a lot of mirrors, a massive space with different “zones”. In fact it doesn’t stop there – they also have a terrace (outdoor area) and CLUB DOWNSTAIRS CALLED “ANÓNIMO”, where you can “disappear”. Well that’s mighty handy. Cool calm vibe, that is IDEAL for during the week if you fancy a beautiful hangout.

Normally this type of place can be a bit of a let-down food-wise, but actually chic Random’s menu lives up to the mark. The menu is indeed a bit “random” – in the sense that there are many different types of yummy and firm favourite” dishes. From prawn carpaccio, to ceviche, to artichokes, to delicious fish, to hearty fideua to Korean bulgogi a la Random. Woah. The menu actually changes every 2 months but some popular dishes make the cut every time. Everything was beautifully presented, simple but strong flavours, really pleasant visually and tastebud-ly. 

 

 Now for a quick theme change…from cool over to

 

SPANISH GASTRONOMY

4. NEW “TRADITIONAL” SPANISH BAR IN MALASAÑA – CASA BARANDA

 Where: Colón 11 – next door to Bodega de la Ardosa

Price range: Low. Cheap and cheerful but good quality Spanish food

Why you need to go:

DELICIOUS Spanish food that goes beyond just the “usual” stuff we are used to, in a traditional and classic setting, as you can see in the photos. Yet appearances are deceiving: this place is actually really NEW! Been open less than a year, though it is supposed to resemble an old-fashioned style taberna, paying homage to a certain Paco Manteca. Go Pacoooo. Another surprising fact, it actually belongs the same owner as Ardosa next door – which is always heaving and chaotically fun. Casa Baranda is almost like the calmer older sister but with the same sort of dark and moody interior and no frills vibe to it. Old posters galore…now that is cool.

Whilst there aren’t many dishes on their short and manageable menu, no fear as we are talking about some rather big-in-flavour/ popular dishes from all over Spain: Andalucia, Galicia and Madrid classics to name a few. They’ve put their own stamp on some of them too. As an example, Casa Baranda’s patatas bravas have a lovely deep red-coloured salsa and their “cod puff balls” (okay that sounds horrible, buñuelos de bacalao) are simply divine, not greasy at all but rather light and fluffy. Last but not least, their pincho moruno skewers are actually with lamb (yes!!! no pork here, nope) and SPICE. Yes spice, that really is a welcoming change to the less adventurous and spice-less foods we are sometimes faced with. In fact, I think they are the best lamb pincho morunos I have tried in Madrid. Order these and finish your lovely tapas lunch or snack on a high. 

 

5. ESPLORE

Where: Clavel 5. Just off Gran Vía.

Price range: Low – mid. Very reasonable prices for just off Gran Vía

Why you need to go:

Ready to Esplore? Are you keen to esplore the best of Spanish gastronomy from the different autonomous regions? Would you like to be able to chow down on anchoas (anchovies) and blue cheese croquetas in the same place as migas (typical crumbs dish, but honestly it is far more exciting than just crumbs, promise!) and good fish and meat? Well then Esplore is your place!

Brand new gastrobar / restaurant / shop (see it’s even really versatile) in the heart of the city centre, just a stone’s throw from hustly bustly Gran Vía. In contrast, Esplore is a calm and cosy place, a type of food oasis but with a lovely modern décor as well as really friendly and attentive staff. Not to mention a tempting range of gourmet products visible in one corner (in the “shop”) as well as other cute details. Like the little cards with messages for them, neatly displayed. Far nicer than the “Tell us how much you adore us” message board at Five Guys. Ahem.

Food-wise, the menu offers modern Spanish food and the quality is great for the price point, and a big plus is the sheer variety. Try the taster menu for 2 people for €40 total – excellent value given this setting and in potential “Tourist Trap” La la Land. One of my favourite dishes was the “Esplore” tosta – see below, no caption needed.

Álvaro and his team are really wonderful and honest people and we wish them the best of luck with this restaurant project with a real soul and spirit

 

Well folks, that’s it for Part 1. Stay tuned as on Friday you will have Part 2 (Places 6-10)

Love, Foodie Betsy x

 

Remember to check out my Spanish blog over on La Guiri Y La Gata http://laguiriylagata.com/

 

by Betsy. Find out more about Betsy here.

Categories: Drink, Eat, Trends