Thanks so much for your great dining reports and as always, your kind words. I’ll be in touch soon, as soon as I arrive in Madrid at the end of the month—a permanent move for us.
Yes, Jen…Just about every restaurant/bar (or at least those i’ve been to) will offer half-orders “media racion.” These will not be available for every dish on the menu, but for many. Basically, there are 2 sizes of plates, in bars and in many restaurants:
- Media racion
And in my experience, the server will often advise if you have ordered too much; he or she might suggest a “media racion,” for example, instead of the full plate.
Now, none of this will apply to every restaurant, particularly on the very high end. But it’s the case, in general, in all of Spain.
Where are you headed??? And to where?? I know you are an Italy aficionada; have you been to Spain much before?
(I am headed (I hope!!) to Sicily next month…
Hi there. Quick question on your Sacha reservation. I see you made the reservation online. Did your hotel then call and amend to a table of one? I am probably doing the same thing once the date I want to dine there (June 12) opens up. I have preemtively sent a note to the concierge at the hotel I am staying in (Madrid Edition) to just get me a table for one. I just want to know what you have done.
Hi. I had the hotel make the reservation for me when they opened them up(3 weeks ahead I believe) and the restaurant sent them/me a confirmation. I would have done it myself, but I didn’t see an option for a table for one but they were very accommodating. A table in their lovely garden is the best seat in the house, enjoy!
Thanks! I have reached out to my hotel. Will have them do that. Only a week more to go!
Can’t wait to read about your eating adventures! Let the hotel do the bookings…just make sure to take photos and notes for us to travel along vicariously. I do hope you find Madrid as wonderful as I did!!!
Mercado de la Paz needs a full morning! If you’ve not been to Portugal, you should pay a visit to the lovely Maria (?) who has a pretty shop with all kinds of tinned seafood and that unusual cherry-flavored liqueur, and of course, Portuguese pastries. This is a market fro the ages, and not so filled with tourists as some others…it’s a “real” market although there are small eateries, too. Enjoy!
Lucky you! I’m so jelly right now Have a great trip and take loots of photos!
The market stand at the Mercado de la Paz that Erica refers to is the Portuguese stand called MANINHA SARDINHA, and they do sell those wonderful pasteis de nata plus all the Portuguese conservas. And for everyone to know, Casa Dani has reopened and is busy as ever. Had breakfast there yesterday.
If you like oysters or if you enjoy rice dishes, we also enjoy there Oh Dèlice Bistrot, which is tucked away at the back of the market.
If you want to buy the best of Iberian ham of several different brands (bellota), La Boulette (inside the market) and Alvarez Selection (outside) are your best friends. Good prices, hand sliced (important) and sold in packages of 100 gramos.
I’ve been in Madrid house hunting for an entire month. With my travel concierge best friend I took tours with the PR heads of all the new hotels–4 Seasons, Rosewood Villamagna, Thompson, Ritz, JW Marriott, Edition). The Madrid Edition, although with 200 rooms and sprawling, impressed me a great deal. The service is very attentive.
We dined both at the Mexican Jerónimos downstairs and at the super cool pisco bar, OROYA, on the terrace adjacent to the pool. Loved the vibe of both, especially the pisco bar, which is now the city’s “place to be” for a sunset cocktail.
The Edition also has a Punch Room, hidden away from the main lounge, their version of a speakeasy.
How exciting to become a local!!
Maribel. Fantastic news about Madrid house hunting. Please keep us posted. Which barrio thrills you??
How do you place ORFILA in relation to the newer properties you mentioned ??
We’ve been here for a month looking at properties. The district that most thrills us is Retiro (the barrio is Ibiza) only because it’s so near Retiro Park and where our favorite dining spots are located.
But it’s become very pricey.
For suburban living there´s also Pozuelo-Somosaguas, where we’re headed today.
We live now in beautiful Almagro (prices here are way above our budget) and are next to the Swedish embassy and across the street from the Palacio Santo Mauro and have spent time there in their lovely garden terrace. Just a few blocks from Orfila. I think they’re both really in the same category, especially since the SM has been completely redecorated and Gresca in the library is now the gourmet restaurant. Great service as well from the staff. It’s still owned by Antonio Catalán. Intimate and private.
For a larger property I still like the Rosewood, as they’ve done a great job reinventing the Villamagna and making it far more inviting and even cozy. This summer they’ve even opened a beach club, complete with live music and imported sand. (They had an ice skating rink there during Navidades).
We discovered a really sweet gourmet shop/deli/wine bar on Alcalde Sainz de Barranda (metro: Ibiza) that serves delicious plates (one of the best tortillas in the city) and great wines by the glass. Maribona sent us there. It’s Lacrado Despensa. Check it out next time you’re in town. Run by two sweet guys who work hard to please. Great cecina from León as well as bellota. High table seating only and go at 8 before it gets too busy. Open daily except for Sunday nights.
For Sunday night in Retiro we head to Kulto on Ibiza for almadraba caught tuna (recently well reviewed in the press), to Arzábal on Menéndez Pelayo (better than ever after 14 years says Maribona) or to El Talgo Bar on. Alcalde Sainz de Baranda.
Rafa now closes on Sun. nights.
Since you asked about hotels, we’re at the Rosewood Villamagna tonight having an unusual take on gin tonics at the bar—-you make your own—and I can vouch for the service, the comfort and the vibe. Unfortunately because of the rain the Mayacoba beach club is closed but the lounge is quite lively.
That Bloomberg article really strikes a chord with us as we experience first hand the fierce competition to buy a property here.
The Rosewood now belongs to a Mexican group.
Yes, I had heard anecdotal evidence of this a few months ago. Below bit struck me - I still remember ten years ago needing to make reservations at 11 PM or else be sat in an empty restaurant.
“New restaurants are sprouting across Madrid’s fancy Salamanca neighborhood at a breathtaking pace, and are almost always full. Table reservations start as early as 8 p.m. — unheard of in a city where kitchens rarely came alive before 9 p.m., and where lunch is served mostly between 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Locals are having to come to grips with other changes, like time allotments at tables, common perhaps in New York, but unusual in a country where long, lazy post-meal conversations are a cultural staple. The Spanish even have a word for it: “sobremesa” — which translates as “over the table.”
The new arrivals have brought “a change in lunch and dinner times in Spain, with many locals finishing lunch barely an hour before foreigners are ready for dinner,” said Gonzalo Torres, a Madrid-based food critic.”
We’ve noticed the earlier eating times in our favorite places in the past year, post-pandemic.
For example, when we walked into our favorite taberna in the Retiro district the other night for our reservation at 8:30 (quite early for us), we were the last table to be seated in the bar area.
Here the chef hasn’t (yet) imposed a time limit (his regulars would NOT be pleased!), and the lunch “sobremesa” can still go on until 6:00, but we’ve experienced a 1.5 hour time limit for our table in many other places.
Another favorite in Retiro, Castelados, has imposed two seatings in its bar and terrace for lunch: at 1:30 and 3:30
and two seatings for dinner: at 8 and 9:30 (but 8 and 10 on weekends).
Turning tables used to be really unheard of.
And now we’ve learned to reserve our tables a month in advance for the most popular casual places.
How else are the supposed to make money? What’s the alternative?
Pre pandemic, Spaniards have simply been used to occupying their table for the entire dining period, during the lunch or dinner hours.
They practice the “sobremesa”, which is the time spent after finishing their meal when they continue to relax and converse at the table with their family or friends, enjoying their company, over coffee, an after dinner drink (GT or a brandy) or if on an outdoor terrace, a cigar.
The “sobremesa” can last for an hour or in summer, even longer. It´s simply part of the life style.
For example at our lunch on the terrace at Güeyu Mar on the beach, we sat down at 2 and left at 6 and weren’t the last to leave.
At 5:30 or even 6:00 you’ll still see Spaniards sitting at their table in Madrid restaurants, well after they’ve finished their meal, conversing with a GT or other after dinner drink, a customary habit.
When we go to our favorite taberna in the Retiro district, we are given our table from 8:30-11:30 pm…some diners stay beyond, until midnight.
This is a deeply-ingrained custom in Spain.
As long as customers still spend money after they’ve had dinner and desert then that’s fine, if not then is that really fair to the restaurant and waitstaff? I understand it’s “custom” but as we all know, it’s a brave new world out there Not trying to pick a fight, just pointing out the obvious position it puts the establishment in when people are lingering and not spending $$$