Barrio Ibiza is a neighbourhood in the Retiro District, to the east of El Retiro park, south of Calle Alcala. It’s a bit of a walk from the Hotel Catalonia Goya (about 20 mins walking quickly) but only three streets if you map it right. Or you could take the tube to Metro Ibiza.
La Castela (Intermediate A), 22 Doctor Castelo, lacastela.com
Love this place. It’s on the pricey side but we (my friend Ethel and I) got loads of freebies in the tapas bar, more than we could eat.
We ordered four things off the menu. The first was the Merluza al Aceite Oliva Virgen, hake in virgin olive oil, was possibly the best either of us had ever had (A+).
Next, Almejas a la Manzanilla, clams in Sherry.
And also off the menu; Croquetas Marisco, seafood croquettes.
In addition we got all the below for free, even when we hadn’t ordered a drink. This included… Chorizo with piquillo peppers.
Some stewed boletus.
Gem lettuce with mussels.
And various kinds of marine life.
The free stuff came so thick and fast we eventually had to beg them to stop!
With three jarras and three canas of beer the bill came to €66.50 between two which was very good given the quantity and quality of what we had.
One of my favourites…
Casa Portal Sideria-Restaurante (Advanced, A) 26 Dr. Castello, Tel 91 574 2026 or 91 409 1553 GEM ALERT!
This trad spot (specialising in Cocido Asturiana since 1939) is a favourite restaurant of mine and a good place to go on a chilly evening when your cockles need warming.
There is a tapas bar with lots of smelly, cheesy delicacies under glass at the front, and a posher restaurant at the back which is usually empty around the time I go (just after 8pm) so no reservations required.
The specialities are various kinds of fabada (butter bean stew), seafood and Asturian cider which should be poured from a great height in order to aerate it.
The service is formal but friendly and has always been good, especially the nice older chap who seems to be a permanent fixture. The atmosphere is quite sedate with paintings of Asturian valleys and erm… an oil refinery on the walls.
A great starter is Esparragos Trigueros Salteados (A+), wild asparagus (in season May/June) dressed in a wonderful reduction of wine and oil. The Foie-gras de Pato with a balsamic reduction is excellent (A) too.
It’s best if you go with a companion as the classic (A+) Fabada Asturiana (with ham hock, chorizo and morcilla and butter beans in a thick rich sauce) is big enough for two, although I have been known to manage it by myself. They’ve been making it for decades and it’s the best one I’ve ever had.
The Leche Frita ‘fried milk’ (kind of like bread and butter pudding) and Tarta de Queso (‘cheesecake’ but not as we know it) are ok but straight out of the fridge (C+) but the icecreams are sublime (A) so just get one of those.
Be careful of the price if you go for one of their classic brandies (perhaps a Larios 1866 or a Cardinal Mendoza) at the end though, or at least ask how much it is first! This is a place I always return to.
A Japanese Kirikata (Advanced B), 19 Calle de Antonio Ancuna, www.adearzabal.com
Every now and then I need a break from local food and Japanese is my default setting if it’s available.
This is a posh Spanish wine bar that serves food from both cultures. The Guia Repsol recommends the Arzábal croquettes with sheep’s milk but I was here for the sushi.
I sat in their dark but comfortable and stylishly decorated cellar and had…
Some complimentary Capocollo, Italian ham, with bread and homemade butter (B).
Atun Picante (B).
Kimchi Salmon (B).
The seared scallops, Vieras, tasted ever so slightly of the blowtorch fuel which detracted a bit (B-).
The chef, a good English speaker, recommended the Gambas Picantes and they were indeed my favourite (B+). I loved the Ito Togarashi (literally ‘thread pepper’) garnish they were topped with.
The white wine was a Verdejo called Terrible which sounded ominious but it was actually quite good! (B+).
Total €80, a price you have to pay for sushi here I guess, sometimes you just have to do these things. It was fine but I’ll keep searching for an authentic place.
Pics uploaded May 2012.