Travels with V
Tapas and an extreme dinner
Madrid part two
Right next to Plaza de Cibeles there’s a crossroads where, if you look up can see on a rooftop a statue of a warrior goddess with a spear, beside a sort of balcony with colonnades. Up there on the roof of Círculo De Belles Artes is a lovely bar, La Azotea roof top terrace with smashing wiews of the city. When we visited rain was hanging in the air, yet the place was filled with young people. Most of them for a drink, but of course also to eat tapas. If that’s on your mind you’d better book in advance.
Now that we’ve mentioned Tapas we’d like to dive deeper into the amazing food traditions in Madrid. And we can reveal that the most adventurous, odd and brilliant restaurant we have ever encountered is here. It’s called La Candela Restò and can be found in a narrow street, Calle de la Amnistía, two blocks away from Plaza de Oriente, a park right across the street from the royal castle.
A La Candela the menu was a secret – before it was served. Ordering we could choose between 21 and 26 courses…we picked 21, and were presented with the most remarkable creations, some on plates with built-in lights, in small cups or cones stuck on the twigs of a bush with magnets, on a piece of rock or a hand of metal…The ingredients were familiar enough, but they were processed to be unrecognizeable. There were crispy flakes, foam, and bubbles, most with detailed instructions on how to eat them. Tastes just explode in your mouth and although it’s extremely hard to describe, it just tastes incredibly good!
It’s impssible to avoid Tapas (even if for some reason you would try) in Madrid. But there’s tapas and there’s tapas, and hundreds of places that serve them. We like our tapas to be tempting to look at as well as rewarding to the palate. The feel of the place is also important – tapas is a folksy habit and a bit of noise and shuffling around is only right.
And the perfect combo of all this we found at ORIO in the corner of Calle de Fuencarral and Calle de Colón. Crammed and happy, cold tapas are ordered at the counter, warm tapas are handed out in the crowd. A simple but perfect red wine by the glass, what more can you wish for?
Maybe a couple of fresh oysters? So go to the Mercado de San Miguel, two blocks west of Plaza Mayor. Sharp elbows are handy here, because it’s always packed. The perfect place for a lunch even if you’re not into oysters – they serve every kind of Spanish grub you can think of.