Madrid 2013 – La Tasquita de Enfrente

28 Jul

On our second night in Madrid, we decided to find a nice sit down restaurant where we could enjoy a more refined Spanish meal. After some research, we settled on La Tasquita de Enfrente, a small but well reviewed restaurant run by Chef Juango Lopez Bedemar. The restaurant is located just north of Calle Gran Via and from the outside, other than the numerous Michelin rating stickers from over the years in the window, you really wouldn’t guess this was much of a restaurant. However, if there’s anything I have learned from my trip in Spain regarding restaurants, it’s don’t judge a book by its cover.

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Walking inside, we entered a small but colourful-looking dinner room. The walls are covered with paintings of different styles and signed images of various people – most of whom I don’t recognize but who appear to be Spanish politicians or celebrities. Nice relaxed lighting and some gentle music in the background. So far, it sets up for a nice meal.

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Our waiter presents himself and explains that there is no menu at this restaurant. The chef changes everything daily based on what it gets from the market. We were recommended the tasting menu where you are at the whim of the chef – although you can make some requests and he will adjust for them – or if you want, you can go “a la carte” where the chef consults with you and makes a few dishes based on that. We naturally went with the tasting menu to truly experience what this restaurant is about. One member of our party requested no meat so we all ended up with no meat throughout our tasting. Ended up not being an issue – even for a meat lover like myself.

First up, a Mushroom cream soup that my camera decided didn’t like its look so I have no picture of it. Very smooth texture with wonderfully earthy tones. You could taste the freshness of the mushrooms throughout. A very nice way to start the meal. Next up, a king crab salad with homemade crisp. As it would be throughout the meal, the Chef prepares his dishes very simply – he allows the freshness of the ingredients to do the talking. Here, wonderful crab meat with a bit of binder, some bread crumbs and a little bit of roe on top. A great appetizer.

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Third course now, we got a cold Spider Crab soup. Great seafood broth with hints of tomatoes in the base. The crab meat itself was delicious and added a nice texture to the soup. I am not a big cold soup fan but this one worked for me on all accounts.

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Next up, egg fried sardines with some bacon bits on top. When one thinks of sardines, one tends to think about sardines in a can which I absolutely hate. This was nowhere near that. Nice crisp of both the skin and the coating around the sardine. The meat inside was nice and flaky. Overall, there is a nice richness to the dish without any oiliness or being too heavy which was a good thing given we were only halfway through the meal!

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To counter that richness, the Chef then presented us with a very simple but again wonderful dish of mixed mushrooms. Just a few different varieties of mushroom presented in different ways (chopped, shaved, sliced) and tossed in a little oil. Amazing how many flavours one can get with such a simple dish. Great follow-up to the sardines.

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The next 2 dishes were truly new experiences for me. First, we got fried Hake necks with a aioli of mayonnaise, garlic and Hake neck broken down. The fried necks were wonderful – very rich and fatty texture. Our server described them as the best part of the Hake and I would agree. The aioli didn’t work for me though. While a very unique idea of incorporating the neck into the sauce, the aioli was devoid of any real flavour to add to the fried necks. It ended up just being an textural addition to the dish. It was the one thing over the course of this meal that really didn’t work for me.

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The final pre-dessert course was brown butter stingray. I had no idea what to expect from stingray. It ended up being like ribs but instead of red meat, you got flaky white fish in between each rib. Great quality of fish here and the brown butter sauce was perfectly executed. Nice richness added to the white fish.

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On to dessert, we each got 2 items – a pistachio tiramisu and a spanish pain perdu. Given my hatred of coffee, tiramisu tends not to be something I enjoy but this one worked for me. The pistachios added a nice nutty flavour which helped to dull the coffee for me. The pain perdu was quite good as well. Very sweet richness with the crispy sponge cake on top for a nice textural crunch. A good way to cap off a wonderful meal.

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It didn’t look like much walking in but boy was this a great meal! The cool thing throughout was seeing the chef come around numerous times to see how we were enjoying things and at the same time, seeing how each table had slightly different dishes one to the other. There truly is no pre-set menu – even for one night! If ever you go to Madrid and are looking for a way to truly experience Spanish cuising outside of the usual Tapas fare (which are amazing don’t get me wrong), you won’t go wrong checking this place out.

Cheers!

La Tasquita de Enfrente
Calle Ballesta, 6,
28004 Madrid, Spain
+34 915325449

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