El Ambigú. Alcalá de Henares

Christmas dinner 2011: fantastic food, wine flowing fast throughout and free spirits at the end, resulting in a conscious abuse of our indeterminate budget by numerous orders of Talisker 18 year single malt. After all that, I don’t know if I truly am an impartial judge to the joys of El Ambigú. I must go there for a set lunch (12€) to see what it’s like when I’m not half-cut and full of festive cheer, but it just sounds so boring. So maybe someone else can do it for me?

Casa Parrondo. Calle de Trujillos, 9. Madrid

Not only a reliably good Asturian bar and restaurant (split into two locations opposite each other) but very central too, just a stone’s throw from Sol. This is where I had to be advised about the folly of ordering fabada for a late dinner: nocturnal gaseous activity from this meat’n’bean stew would make insomnia inevitable. This is also the place where I saw far too many unsuccessful attempts to pour sidra the northern Spanish way – nonchalantly looking the other way and spilling it from an outstretched arm down to waist level. But Parrondo is one in a million: their blue cheese is fortified and not for the squeamish, their house cider is light and refreshing, and the atmosphere is rowdy at the best of times.

$$-$$$
Metro Sol

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Lujuria. Calle de Leganitos, 8. Madrid

Halloween night in 2011 saw Lujuria host an energetic night of dubstep and electronic beats and bass-heavy music. The crowd is quite mixed – though on the shadier side – in this club that resembles a cosy former brothel, with its strange long layout and corridor; our suspicion is that that is exactly what it used to be.

http://www.holydubs.com

Metro Santo Domingo