My two favourite things in Madrid were the lunch menus and the green spaces, so of course my MoFo post has to focus on the best of those. Botanique (UPDATE: closed April 2017) was the cheapest and most ambitious place where we had the lunch set. It’s an unassuming looking place on the first floor of the San Anton Mercado, but it’s no scruffy street food place – it’s clean and classy, with a menu to match.
It was €9.50 for two courses plus wine/beer and bread, and an extra €2.50 for dessert if you want it. There are no options though, you just have to take what is offered for each course, so it can be a gamble and may be a dangerous game for picky eaters. However, it can be an opportunity to turn around some of your prejudices: you might get a dish with an ingredient you usually avoid, and find that it is not so awful after all.
Take, for example, this watermelon tartare. I hate watermelon and my face fell when we were told what the starter was. But the dish as a whole was delightful! For one thing, the tartare was a little mound of watermelon, avocado, capers and red onion, meaning there were enough good things to combat the fruit. And the almond cream was divine! It was surprisingly thick and savoury, and sprinkled with pistachios. This was an unusual starter, and one I never would have chosen, but it was absolutely beautiful.
The main was also good, if not quite as striking. It was smoked black rice, made from smoked tea and served with red cabbage ad teeny bits of courgette and mushroom. It tasted really good, but was a little small and could have used a splash of contrasting colour for presentation purposes.
As the first two courses had been so good, we had no choice but to try the dessert as well. The panna cotta was served with a fruity red sauce, pistachio crumbs and a sweet syrup. It had a good wobble, looked extremely fancy and tasted divine!
This was perhaps the only place we visited in Madrid that wasn’t fully booked, perhaps because it’s not at street level and is slightly off the beaten track. It’s only a small detour though, and is still tourist friendly (by which I mean that the staff speak English), so do add it to your itinerary if you’re in Madrid.
And the park to add to your itinerary is also a little further from the action. El Capricho is only open at the weekend, you can’t take any food in, and visitors are limited, so you might want to get there early, before it gets full. It’s definitely worth it: it’s a really spacious place, very quiet and undisturbed by nearby traffic, and it’s just beautiful.
(UPDATE: Botanique closed April 2017)