To be confronted with an extremely spacious carpeted pavement area at the entrance of a club with well-dressed doormen – the only staff not wearing the ridiculous white or pink uniforms – is to know that some serious money is going to be spent. The display cabinet downstairs next to the cloakroom boasts a double magnum of Dom Perignon for €10,000. There just can’t be a crisis going on.
Bottle service is brisk and efficient, mixers are numerous; standard bottles cost €200. It’s a large single room that actually does get densely packed, seemingly by lots of twenty-somethings that haven’t bought drinks. The crowd ranges from tarts and teasers to sheikhs and shakers, especially in the section with the violinists and mini-exhibition. Though the bathrooms are small and the ladies’ queue gets obscenely long by 3am, it doesn’t take long to get to street level using the door by the DJ booth for a breath of fresh or a puff of smoky air. The music when the violinists are performing can be grand and there is a definite sense of occasion, but for the most part it’s housy-pop and classic rock mash-ups. Uninspiring, occasionally tedious but full of lots of pretty faces.
Metro Retiro/Velazquez/Principe de Vergara
You need a booking to sit out on the beautiful terrace with a clear view of Santiago Bernabeu stadium. We didn’t, so took an indoor table in the heavily air-conditioned ground floor space. The wooden tables, hanging lamps and wall panelling conspire to create a warm glowy vibe, slightly brighter than Lateral’s but not overly cheery.
Our group of five managed to order five dishes and a few pinchos but we only got through one very good bottle of Albariño. Highlights included the Ravioli de rabo de toro, mainly down to its rich creamy sauce, the chipirones a la plancha and the sliced aubergine topped with melted cheddar. A chicken skewer in a curry sauce, almost like a pseudo-Indo satay, was just average, and the sashimi-wasabi mini toasts were the only low notes: someone compiling the menu had tried to tick too many boxes there. Desserts were good, especially the gooey choc souffle. The food can only be described as exquisite comfort grub, with no flashy presentation. Service was quick and friendly.
For five of us to eat well and drink a bit of good wine came to just under a hundred euros, which for this area is very reasonable. I’ll be back here, with a booking for a terrace table.
Metro Santiago Bernabeu