Friday, January 20, 2012

Le Pain Quotidien

Years ago I was on a holiday in Nice and had a sandwich in Le Pain Quotidien. The place looked lovely and so typically French, I thought. It's not French I later found out, but Belgian which is not much of a difference, but for the staff. At least that day.
I had sat down with my sandwich and a coffee while my then girlfriend wandered around the shop admiring the decoration, because she wasn't hungry. Until she saw the super sized croissants they were selling to take out. She got one wrapped, paid for it and sat down next to me. On the table were jars of sugar and jam and she thought it was a good idea to try some on her croissant. BIG MISTAKE!! Within seconds three people had surrounded us basically accusing us of shoplifting. C'est take away! C'est take away! It wasn't exactly like she was putting the jar to her mouth or in her pocket. So I paid for my sandwich, told them to go fuck themselves (in English, my Francais c'est tres bad) and myself never to set foot in the place again when in Nice. I haven't, nor have I been back in Nice.
In Madrid a few LPQ's have opened over the last year or two and they still have that je ne sais quoi frenchy quality which must be their corporate style, since they all look the same. The other day I needed to have a quick lunch and couldn't find anywhere fast enough so I decided to give it a shot. How boring. The menu is very limited and has a lot of goat's cheese on it (I hate goat's cheese) and is very expensive; even for the area. I had a Salad of Rucola, Buffalo Mozzarella with tomato and parmesan cheese which came with two pieces of different bread. Why not two slices of the same so you can make a sandwich out of it? The mozzarella was nothing special and probably the cheapo stuff from the supermarket as were the tomatoes. Two sundried tomatoes gave it a bit of taste but €12,65 is an insult. So is €2,85 for a Coke.
There are still jars and bottles on the table, no jam this time, maybe only for breakfast?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Carlos Tatiere / Couzapín

On Calle Menorca, not to far from where I live, there are two Sidrerias run by the same people. They have good reason to run two, because they're always packed. Why? Because they know how to do things right, apart from a few narky waiters. The cider is natural cider and they pour it for you the traditional Asturian way which is holding the bottle over their heads and looking at some point in the distance while the drink falls into your glass. It reminds me a bit of taking a mindless piss, including the spatters. Now, I would be an expert at that, but with the bottle it's probably better someone else is holding it. Cider is a nice drink, especially with some traditional country fare. And this is what's provided in an abundance that is almost defeating the purpose of having a full restaurant in the back. The raciones (small portions served with bread) are also very filling and, most importantly, very cheap. There is an original version cinema around the corner and Carlos Tatiere is therefore a perfect pre or after cinema meal. We love it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Restaurante Ayala Japon, C/Ayala, 67

Last month was repeating places and apart from La Daniela what a dissapointment it was. The last time I went to Il Casone, the pizza was bad and when I commented on it the waiter was just idifferent. I was put off anyway, because before I had my pizza I went to the toilet and was greeted by the biggest skidmark I've ever seen. This was at around 8.30, so the restaurant had only been open for about half an hour. So not to be repeated for a while. La Negra Flor are serving salt with some food at the moment, I hope this won't last I like the place and it's doing really well. And then there were a few places that aren't really worth mentioning, or I'll have to go back to try them again. Last Saturday, we were out and decided to try something new. There was this one place that had a big sign in the window that said we could eat a la carte for €20 and it looked kind of OK, but when we asked what this meant, they couldn't tell us. I have never seen two bigger muppets in my life, they were just making it up. So we decdided to let them fantasise some more about what they serve on their own and left.  I remembered this Japanese restaurant, not Inari, that I had been told about and it not being far we went there. There was a queue, which we took as a good sign, and only Japanese staff, which we took as another good sign. They weren't too busy with looking good, but were just hoofing out the food which looked spectacular. We had to wait at least 20 minutes, but I can tell you it was worth the wait. We had a menú de degustacion (€24 each) at the bar, a table would have meant a longer wait. We were sitting right in front of the sushi man, who had his hands in rice and fish permanently. It all looked very clean and it was the best I've had in years. The sushi was the main part of the menú, but chicken, tempura (deep fried vegetables and king prawns), peking duck and dumplings followed and we were not able to finish our meal. What a success, finally! And just around the corner. Fuck Inari, go to Ayala Japon!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Restaurante Inari

I love sushi. And lucky me: there are a few sushi places in my neighborhood. Last night we went to Inari. We were tired but it was my birthday and this called for something more than a lasagna in the microwave and some shit tv. So, Inari. We could have gone to another but we had been there before and the sushi had been O.K. The noodles weren't, so we weren't going to try them again. As luck would have it the Tempura Noriawase (kingprawns and vegetables, deep fried) we tried instead were just as bad as the noodles had been before. The Sushi Special was especially expensive at 33€ for 11 pieces and not especially special. We should have gone to the other place. What a dissapointment, again! The fact that it is accross the street from Balboa Social Club, the worst restaurant in the world , makes this a corner of Madrid I will from now on avoid when I'm hungry.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Soho Bar Restaurante, C/ Jorge Juan 50

Last night I felt like having a few beers. Without food this would have ended in another lost weekend, but I happen to know this bar with a restaurant upstairs. The bar is a real bar, it actually does look like a bar in Soho, New York. For once a Buweiser Neon (in the window) makes sense and looks good. The cocktails look good and when they are being prepared it's not the messy affair that you usually get and they make sense in a place like this. The restaurant upstairs a real restaurant. The menu is American and is therefore perfect in combination with those beers I wanted.
We didn't have a reservation, on Friday and Saturday it is better to have one, but we were asked to wait and after about 5 minutes we could have a table for 45 minutes. Apologies were made for this because this way we couldn't have "sobremesa", linger at the table after dinner, but I wanted to do that at the bar anyway.
We started with the guacamole which was fresh, but on the salty side which was a pitty. The Special Soho Burger was good, the meat was tender, the potatochips were fantastic and the Ternera Little Italy covered in tomatosauce and mozarella was really nice as well. Still, someone in the kitchen was having a love affair with the salt. I already wanted to have a few drinks, so they didn't have to make me with the salt. We had a good meal, the service was great and we will go back.
What about the toilets? The way they should be: clean.
As for those drinks, I was too full and too tired after dinner to have another and so we went home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Taberna Los Ángeles, Costanilla Ángeles 8

People visiting Madrid are a good excuse to go out for dinner. Since we live in Madrid we are supposed to know where is good and so we don't experiment trying new places unless the visitor is paying and money is no object. Since we don't know many people these days that can say that, we stuck to the first option last weekend and had lunch in La Daniela again; I couldn't move afterwards I ate so much and it was that good, again. On Saturday we were in the city center around Puerta del Sol and we were hungry. Not that familiar in the area when it comes to restaurants, we ended up in Taberna Los Ángeles just off Opera and Calle Arenal. We had been there before a couple of years ago, but I didn't really remember what it was like. The place is faux antique country style with lots of crap collected on shelves along the walls, not just from one particular period (a bit like Irish Pubs that sometimes look more like agricultural museums than pubs), but the food is OK. Straightforward traditional Spanish country cooking with fresh salads and lots of meat. Service was swift and the price was right. I reckon they prepare everything in big quantities which I think in a way adds to the taste. It's not super exciting, but it's definitely not like VIPS or El Corte Inglés (I recently made the mistake of having something to eat there, I was using WiFi, and you guessed it, it was just the worst). All in all it was good, but I was told that the toilets were disgusting. Thank God I didn't have to go because that would have put me off. So note to self: Taberna Los Ángeles, ok food. Avoid toilet!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Il Casone Ristorante Italiano, Plaza Olavide

Where can you get a good Pizza? Well, in Madrid, or Spain for that matter, that is not such simple question. A lot of places think they sell Pizza, but believe me they don't. Once we had a Pizza somewhere on Calle Genova that was raw. Impossible? Believe me. When we sent it back we got something else (never mind what, it was just as bad), but the manager came back to our table to tell us that this was a special type of pizza....
Anyway, you know how you sometimes crave for something and you go out looking for it? That's how I found Il Casone. It was the first time I had a decent Pizza in Spain, so I went back several times and last Saturday I went again. I always order the same, a Caprese Salad and a Quatro Stagione Pizza. Again I was not dissapointed. The ingredients were fresh and tasted like they were brought in from the land only half an hour earlier. Delicious.
This obviously is the best thing about the restaurant which is quite big and divided into sections. What bothers me is that nearly half of the restaurant is reserved for smokers and what bothers me even more is that this is the nicest part of the place. Another thing that bothers me is that the plates seem to have been brought in from a Greek restaurant where they refused to break, we got a starter on a small plate that looked more like an ashtray. However, the food is great and so this is only a minor thing which, until someone cuts themselves badly, will be part of the charm.