After some time in Andalucia (Province of Cadiz), where I spent three wonderful nights in Jerez (see related report), I drove to the vicinity of Vejer, to access two of my favorite seafood restaurants on the Costa de la Luz, in and near Barbate. I believe I’ve written about both EL CAMPERO and ANTONIO, on this site, earlier. (During that stay, I also dined twice at LA CASTILLERIA, famed especially for the quality of its beef, and other meats, but also most excellent for all the additional dishes that I sampled during both lunches).
From Jerez airport, I flew to Madrid, where I had planned to spend three nights, but fell so hard for the city on this visit that I extended my stay for one night so I could include one more restaurant. (I had been to Madrid quite a few times since I put my first step into Europe in this city, at the age of 17, many years ago.)
My visit coincided with a puente weekend, 18-20 March) so I had to arrange and re-arrange my schedule since many restaurants were closed on that Sunday and Monday, or had changed their hours.
TASQUITA DE ENFRENTE
I’d long wanted to dine at this restaurant, located just to the north of Gran Via and west of some of the main drags of Chueca (C/Hortaleza was a block or two to the east).
The dining room is sleek and handsome, and small and I booked well in advance.
Chef/Owner JuanJo Lopez (born in Madrid of Asturian and Andalucian parents–great combination as far as food goes…both among my current favorite regions in Spain, having spent time in recent years; alas, many food write-ups lost to the ether of Chowhound) emphasizes using few ingredients (I believe he states that he does not often use more than four ingredients in each dish, each ingredient, therefore, must obviously be of prime, super-prime quality. “Great product” is his calling card, and he says it much better than I could ever do in this video:
This is a small restaurant with a contemporary-art-filled dining room that I estimate holds about 10 tables, more or less. I’ve read and heard criticisms online about poor treatment of those not known to the house, especially non-Spanish speakers. To be frank, I did feel a bit pressed when St Lopez approached my table within 5 minutes of my being seated, and asked if I I had decided on my dinner selections. When I asked him for five MORE minutes, he acquiesced, and when he returned only about three minutes later, I did let him know that he needed to give me a bit more time, so tempting were so many of the offerings from the menu that changes daily, based on his purchases, mostly at Salamanca’s Mercado de La Paz (where I spent many, many hours during those four days). (see video , above, for more that)
From then on, I felt very comfortable at my small table, observing my fellow diners (there appeared to be one other table of non-native-Spanish speakers…sorry if I phrased this wrong). The rest appears to have been before; this was a Saturday night, not sure if that had any bearing on the clientele. But if you do not speak Spanish, and require some hand-holding from the chef/owner, this might not be your spot, although the wait staff (the staff attending my table did appear to speak English well) were extremely kind and most helpful in answering any questions I did not pose to the owner himself.
I loved my experience there, and would like to return; my limited appetite (part of its diminishment was thanks to the incredible breakfasts served at my hotel, which included a personal favorite, migas (with grapes!!) and a tortilla for one, impeccably cooked… not to mention top-quality jamones…and the eye I kept on my wallet, limited me to 3 dishes; portions were not large, but each one was impeccable and I would happily order each one of them again.
- Media Racion of house ensaladilla
- Cardo…Full racion: short cuts of cardoon, bathed in almond milk and topped with chiffonade (?) of black truffles. I’d never tasted cardoon before, although it is available in New York City Greenmarkets in season. This dish (owner advised me to drop my fork and eat with a spoon in order to reap the goodness of the almond milk bath) was memorable; delicious.
- Full racion of “pulpitos,” the tiniest, tiniest octopi (?) I’d ever had the incredible pleasure of eating. Cooked in their ink, these came for Palamos, a Catalunyan port northeast of Barcelona, legendary for the quality of its shellfish. Please may I be lucky enough to get there myself someday soon!
With one glass of white wine, total: euro 117.50. Note that portions might e considered small by those of a hearty appetite.
Now will attempt to add photos, and hope to return soon for the next, very different but wonderful, meal in Madrid:
Before I continue, I will post this, because I am seeing “open draft” and “create topic,” instead of a command to post…