A converted theatre that revels in its past: the stage is a modern Asian-fusion dining area of a few tables, the stalls a glitzier space with over a dozen round tables and a Mediterranean menu – both areas have great views of each other. There is also a tapas’n’cocktails lounge area in the entrance. The escenario menu is divided into al frío (cold dishes), tartar (raw dishes) and al fuego – cooked and served warm; all range between 9€ and 12€ for relatively small portions.
The ceviche was delicate and flavoured with coconut milk, the scallops were dull, despite being sprayed with ‘tequila perfume’ and served on half-limes, but the croquettes, chicken satay, baby squid and prawns were all very good. The highlight for me was the fillet of ‘prey’ a seared cut of tender beef – rare in the middle – that was better than any steak I’ve ever tasted. Desserts need some revamping – the two that we tried are not worth mentioning – and service could be a little more attentive with less attitude, but we’d recommend going in just once for a light dinner to experience the decor.
Metro Colón / Velázquez
A neighbourhood Nepali-owned restaurant with few pretensions and the largest photo of the Taj Mahal I’ve ever seen – it wallpapers the entire back wall of the restaurant – Fathe Pur didn’t seem to offer us anything we hadn’t tasted before. But from the moment we were offered variations on the dishes from the set menu without having to request them, we knew we’d be in good hands. Not being keen on a Korma, I was recommended a lamb curry, which was a full-bodied spicy Rogan Josh. The dhaal makhani we were offered was a mix of dark lentils containing mysterious cubes of something that turned out to be pineapple chunks, which actually worked perfectly in the clash of flavours. Their Mango Lassi is excellent too, accentuated with saffron and refreshingly creamy and smooth.
A good, hearty meal, spontaneously chosen with serendipity on our side.
Refurbishment has done wonders for this place. From a tacky beer joint to a slick wine bar, it has re-situated itself as a neighbourhood institution.
The Mai Tai is decent; but it is the highly recommended house speciality that steals the show, a passion-fruit based cocktail called Diva. Our table was a glassed-over vintage bathtub, cushioned stools and benches are placed in front of the large floor-to-ceiling front window, and the back room is wonderfully warm, airy and artfully designed. Massive Attack’s Protection soundtracked our evening. The bill for two cocktails and two glasses of wine, accompanied by tapas of excellent tortilla, came to just 16€. Highly recommended.
Metro Embajadores / Lavapies
We haven’t eaten here yet, but we’ve pledged to do so very very soon, especially as we enjoy it so much as a bar. The Jagerinha (Jagermeister Caipirinha, of course – the green apple version is deliciously sharp too) and choice of G’n’Ts are fantastically professional, and decor, staff and all-round moustachioed skateboard-hipster vibe are warm and fuzzy. Madklyn eat your heart out.
Metro Callao / Tribunal / Noviciado
Not a typical restaurant for delusionaryculinary to find himself at, La Cazuela seemed to offer a unique new neighbourhood experience. A 25€ set menu was quite good value-for-money, though service was shabby on our visit, and the decor is coldly minimalist – needlessly glassy and spacious. The Queso y con salsa de frutas del bosque (8.80€) were delicious, suspiciously perfect cubes of fried Brie cheese. Berenjenas a la miel de caña de azúcar (9.80€) – discs of Aubergine lightly fried with a dark honey sauce – were nothing like the sweet tempura delights that Cordoba specialises in, but the main courses were the highlights: Solomillitos rellenos de queso de cabra con salsa Pedro Ximénez (15.95€), a few parcels of tender beef with a goats cheese filling, and the Churrería de Buey – strips of Ox meat that you cook on a hot plate with a chipotle-style sauce.
Chocolate fondant for desert was perfectly fine, though should have been baked to ensure a harder exterior. All in all, very average; definitely could do better.
Metro Cuatro Caminos
A weeknight birthday dinner brought us to this perennially vacant, but well-designed restaurant, and a great little set menu (15€) they did for us: cherry and mango gazpacho, mixed grill with chips, and a chocolate brownie dessert were my three courses, but solomillo and delicately-fried hake were also on offer, and everything was reasonably good. The staff and service were a bit unfriendly, and even argumentative by the end, but I’ll still visit again if only to try their range of 7-8 burgers, which come in three different sizes. Worth a look.
Metro Gran Via / Callao
If you’re not fussed about the quality of your sushi, but you’re keen on being a glutton, Zen is perfect. All you can eat for a weekday price of 13€, or weeknights at 16€, and 18€ on weekends mean that its four branches around the city see brisk business.
The Retiro branch attracts a mixed crowd, and it’s very much a local institution. I actually saw a man tackling a maki roll with a knife and fork, chopping it up like a steak and guzzling it with gulps of Mahou; I’m still glad that Asian cuisine has come down off its pedestal and is becoming more accessible to the Spanish masses.
The decor is a real surprise: although mostly made up of prefab panels and plastic ornaments with a touch of kitsch, it’s cosy and airy at the same time, blessed with huge windows set back from the street. Purples jostle with dark-chocolate furni, and lanterns hang off exposed black pipes. It’s almost sexily urban.
The menu has a good selection of nigiri and some maki, with a dozen Chinese classics and some noodles and rice dishes. It’s predictably Chinese-owned, and the service is swift and purposeful.
There is a constant sense of the money-making activity of the establishment, rather than serving up good, honest food with any semblance of ceremony. The sushi rice was completely wrong – not only cold, but dry too – and the fish was insipid low-grade crap. All the Chinese dishes came with the same MSG-heavy cornstarch sauce that gave them an awful finish. The chicken skewers were no better, seemingly fried, grilled and barbecued simultaneously.
Crisis-busting prices, but suffering from a real lack of quality and taste.
Metro Sainz de Baranda