I had hoped to fill LLG with posts extolling Madrid’s rumoured fabulous-ness in the shopping and restaurant arenas, but unfortunately I was sick for most of my stay and made it to zero shops and just one restaurant.
What luck then that our hotel recommended Bar Tomate, a short walk away in the Salamanca district, where our group of English fashion editors and PRs congregated for a last lunch before flying back to London after the Mango fashion show the night before.
What looks like a traditional restaurant from the street opens into a post-industrial space inside, with a huge L shaped layout: open kitchen & eating space at one end, and cavernous second dining room at the other.
Often in these almost self-consciously stylish restaurants, the staff mooch around, taciturn and morose, avoiding eye contact and grunting when spoken to. Not here. Moving at speed, they smile, charm, flirt, all whilst speaking excellent English (I know, but goodness it does help) and producing plate after plate of sensational food.
I would move to Madrid to be able to eat these alcachofas fritas (fried baby artichokes).
We ordered family style, so plates of heaven kept appearing at intervals. Spears of fat in-season asparagus deep fried in panko crumbs with a text book romesco sauce ( esparragos rebozados, salsa Romesco), were chased with fried potatoes with a rich, heavy cheese sauce (patatas buthan) which should have been cloying but just made me want to lick the plate. A plate of mixed croquetas were light & fluffy (too often they sit like undigested lead shot in the stomach): the gorgonzola were good, but the cep were transcendental. (Everything was EUR8 a plate.)
Of course we ordered pudding. Whilst a reboot of tarte tatin was…nice, it didn’t have the sticky, sugary unctuous-ness that dish needs. But when there was a perfect dish of fraises de bois cooked in a creme Anglaise with black pepper (fresitas gratinadas a la pimienta) to eat nothing else was going to register. And it was 6 EUR. SIX EUROS? That’s got to be the best value dish of food I’ve eaten in years.
Much to my surprise, it turns out that Bar Tomate is actually part of Grupo Tragaluz, emanating out of Barcelona, where they have thirteen restaurants, along with one each in Girona and in Madrid. If they are anything like Bar Tomate, then I urge you to check them out next time you are in Spain.
calle Fernando el Santo 26, Madrid. Tel: +34 917 023 870
Thank you to Mango for hosting LLG