It was on the trip back from Seoul and Japan that the Missus told me She wanted to head back out ASAP.....in February to be exact.....crazy. I wasn't going to have a whole lot of vacation time and finally decided that Andalucia; super hot in the summer, would be nice during the winter. We'd be book-ending our travels with single nights in Madrid. I booked a Junior Suite at the AC Carlton which is a short 5-10 minute walk from Atocha Station. The suite wasn't that much more expensive than a regular room and I figured our chances of being able to check in early during the slow season would be good and it was. We were able to check in at 10am.
Even though I've flown extensively over the years, I've never been able to sleep on flights unless in First/Business. It was no different this time. We were both fairly pooped and since lunch starts late in Madrid....well, all of Spain we had time to take a nap.
Trying to figure out what to have for lunch was a snap for the Missus....She really enjoyed Restaurante Badila during our previous visit. So we were back at this small, but quite busy "menu del dia" (menu of the day) place. It was a nice, now familiar walk to Tirso de Molina, then down the side street to the restaurant.
Badila is one of those places that you really don't stumble upon. Menu del Dia is a great way to have a filling and economical lunch. You get three courses and a beverage for a single price.
Determining what to order is the toughest part. Of course the Missus and I share everything, which made this a fun lunch.
Our two primeros were the Judias Verdes (Green Beans) with Potatoes and simple, but very tasty braised beans and potato dish that could have used a bit more salt.
I went with the Calamar Encebollado con Arroz. While the rice was terrible, the amazingly tender braised squid, along with the caramelized onions, which added a wonderful savory-sweet component was a revelation.
The Missus always hesitates when ordering squid, but this changed Her mind about it. The salt was perfect; there was a hint of garlic, a very tasty dish.
Of course the Missus got the Rabo de Toro Estofado - the braised oxtails.
Perfect texture, nice beefy flavor along with the tender connective tissue.
I basically got what I ordered the last time the estofado in a white sauce; this time it was Carrillado - pork cheek, and the stewing liquid was sherry based (Amontillado).
Of course, the dry, unfortified sherry was used for the sauce, which was very tasty. More on Jerez in a future post.
This came with a pile of "chips" which was more than we could finish. We each had a glass of "tinto" as our drink and "café solo" for dessert as we both really wanted to head back to the room and nap after this meal.
Calle San Pedro Martir 6
We needed the caffeine as there were a couple of things we needed to do and headed up to one of the Missus's favorite spots in Madrid; Puerta del Sol....of course She needed to take a photo of the Tio Pepe sign.....
Of course, this being February, it was a bit colder than when we were here last......dipping into the mid-low thirties at night......
First stop was the El Cortes Ingles department store. I was able to get most of my Renfe (Spain's train operator) tickets online. However, we had a side trip to one of the White Hill Towns and after fruitlessly trying to get tickets online, I contacted the town's Tourist Bureau and found out that train tickets aren't released for that destination until a week before. El Cortes Ingles has a travel agency and the folks are very nice, unlike many of the ticket agents in Atocha. So we got our tickets......there will be more on this later as there was a bit of a mix-up.
Next stop....well, we'd have to keep our strength up during our ride to Granada the next day; so we headed back to Ferpal. I'm really not good a languages....but I know "cien (100) gram, Jamon Bellota Pata Negra para llevar (to go)". I went through this whole thing in previous posts.......if you're in Spain, do yourself a favor, find a good "cutter" and get the really good stuff; like the "5-J" Jamon Bellota (raised on acorns) pata negra (black pig).
It is claimed that the fat of jamon bellota is over 55% oleic acid.....actually making it rather healthy. I'll say this, the good stuff starts sweating almost immediately after being sliced.
The flavor is a balanced slightly salty and "sweet", the texture is luxurious, when sliced (by hand of course) well, it almost melts in your mouth.
Calle del Arenal 7
We spent the rest of the time visiting those other familiar places.
Leaving time for yet another short nap before dinner. Folks eat late in Spain, even later in Madrid. The sunset at 620pm kind of threw me off and we both wondered if this would affect when folks have dinner....it didn't. Instead of waiting until 830 to eat, we decided to head back to Metro Bistro which opens at 7pm. We managed to snag the last table in the bar area that was available without reservations.
The Missus really enjoyed the Cava (sparkling wine) we had here last time so we started with that.
Lunch was still lingering with us, so we ended up only ordering three dishes, two of them starters. The only item we hadn't had before was the Foie Gras.
The guava reduction really added a nice touch....the portion size was quite huge and perhaps this might have been too much of a good thing....I know, this from the guy who had foie gras three times a day in France.
The Missus didn't order the Roasted Mushroom topped with 65 Degree Egg.....and I wondered why. So I ordered it.
And the Missus is glad I did...even though it takes 20 minutes to make. This was even better than what we had last time. The earthy mushroom flavors came through so well; this time around we could make out the celery flavors in the sauce, which added a nice palate cleansing, almost salty component to the dish.
And then there's the egg.......
Need I say more?
The Beef Tartar was just as good as before.
The only real difference was the little bottle with the dropper that was delivered to our table with the dish. We were told it was a spicy chili oil. Not wanting to mess up the dish, I tasted the chili oil, which wasn't very spicy and quite bitter. It really brought nothing to the dish in my opinion so I had the Missus try it....same verdict....pass on the spicy oil.
A full "all in" for the beef tartare...refreshing, the mustard seed and minced capers really harmonize the flavor of the dish...the foie gras adding a nice creamy component, the micro greens the touch of bitterness......you can mix and match and get a totally different experience with every bite.
Service was much improved from our previous visit and just as friendly. The young man who served us was pleasantly surprised to find that we were from the States...he's born and raised in Madrid, but spent several years in New York City. Overall a very nice meal which put us in a great frame of mind....we were back in Spain.
Calle Imperial 3
Thanks for reading!