My first time in Chamberi, one of the northern districts of central Madrid. Barrio Hispanoamérica is one of its central wards. Google map here.
First stop was the excellent Mercado de Chamartín at 9 Calle Bolivia, www.mercadodechamartin.es which has some fantastic ingredients on display.
The fungus stall was pretty amazing. Some things I’d never seen before were Criadillas de Tierra, a type of fungus also known as the Desert Truffle. Usually criadillas are bull testicles!
Then I went to this wonderful place nearby…
De la Riva (Advanced B+), 13 Calle Cochabamba, restaurantedelariva.com
Listed in 1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die this classic taberna is a very popular lunch place for the well-heeled Chamberi set (not a tourist in sight) so you must definitely reserve. They are only open for lunch (1 till 5pm).
The cuisine is ‘cocina de mercado’; all top quality ingredients from the market nearby. There is no menu, the owner will come round and tell you what there is and help you make your decisions, so some knowledge of Spanish is required.
The media racion of Esparragos Blancos; white forced asaparagus, I began with was pretty huge (B+).
As was the one of Mollejas; sweetbreads (B+). But no problem, I was here to eat.
For my first main, Pecho de Ternera; veal breast, which is very typical. It looked overdone but this is normal and it was very tasty (B+). Their recipe here.
With this a side order of Alubias; haricot beans with chunks of chorizo (B+).
With some pickled chillis on the side (B).
To drink, a half-litre of 2011 Vina Eizaga Cosecha; the house rioja, poured from a big jeraboam (B+).
I had an appetite so I also ordered the Rabo de Toro served with rice (B+).
For dessert, Cuajada aka junket with honey and pine nuts (B).
To finish, a large Duque de Alba brandy (one of my favourites) which was topped up by the waiter who also gave me, bizarrely, a couple of choccy biccys for good measure.
The macho owner owner is a Real Madrid fan and quite unexpectedly in the middle of our meal a few bars of one of their signature songs was played over the sound system! This took the atmosphere up another notch as most of the customers joined in the song, except for my friendly neighbours who were Athletico supporters.
The final bill was just under €70, which was fine for what I had.
Everything was very simply presented, nothing fancy, just good, plain ingredients. My marks seem harsh in retrospect but they are only reflecting the lack of finesse, not the flavours.
This is one of the best traditional restaurants in Madrid, a definite recommend from me.