Taberna Gastromaquia

I traveled to Spain in January with Dawnee and Madrid was our first stop on the trip. We got to our hotel around 7ish on a Saturday evening and got refreshed and got ready to head out for dinner. I did some research on some places I wanted to eat at on TripAdvisor found this place to be really interesting. It received really high ratings and the menu really caught my attention.

If you don’t already know, Europeans eat really late at night. Most restaurants don’t open until 9PM which was unfortunate for us because we just got off a flight and were getting pretty hungry. While we were trying to find the restaurant we got caught up in the liveliness of the Gran Via and kind of lost our way for a bit since we were not familiar with the city. Dawnee was trying to convince me that we weren’t going to find it and that we should just try a different place, but I was persistent in making sure we find the restaurant. After a few turns and a quick check of our map, we found it. And it was closed! It was about 8:15PM and the metal gate was blocking the door. If it weren’t for the address, we would have missed this place completely. It doesn’t look like much on the outside and if you don’t read the signs carefully, you might pass it by. I was kind of bummed that it wasn’t open after finding it so we stood outside debating on what we should do. Luckily, a waiter came out and asked us if we had reservations. We didn’t so he told us to come back at 9PM when they open so that they could seat us right away. If we arrive after 9PM it would be too crowded and there would be no chance to get a table. We gladly took his advise and came back 10 minutes before they opened. They sat us right away and introduced us to our waiter who would explain their menu in English.

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So we ended up having one of the coolest waiters ever! I don’t think he gave us his name, but he was so helpful and very knowledgeable about the menu. What I really loved was that he was very excited to share his food with us and he really spent a lot of time to explain how the food was prepared. He literally described every single item on the menu in English because it was entirely in Spanish. His English was excellent and we really enjoyed talking to him.IMG_1944

Since most of the dishes came in smaller portions, Dawnee and I decided to just order several dishes and share them so we could try as much as we could. Our first dish was fried plantains with guacamole. I really loved the freshness of the guacamole and the sweetness of the tomatoes in it. The fried plantain chips were thin and crispy and was able to hold the dip without breaking. We actually went for the half portion, but the service size was pretty decent. We just didn’t want to fill up too soon.
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The next thing we had was probably the best thing we ate the entire trip! It was mussels with tikka masala sauce. I don’t eat mussels, but this was AMAZING!! I always found mussels to be too fishy, but the sauce was so good I didn’t even notice it. I’ve always loved tikka masala sauce, but I’ve always had it with chicken at Indian restaurants. This is the dish that always pops into my head when I think of Spain. Even after our meal, we asked for more bread so we could soak up all of the sauce. It was that good! One of the things I always dreamed of was owning a restaurant or food truck and serve dishes that have left an impression on me from my travels and this dish would be one of the first things I would want on my menu.IMG_1955

The next dish we had was the grilled octopus. A lot of people raved about this dish online and our waiter even told us that they won a tapas competition with this dish. With that said, Dawnee and I thought that this dish was alright. The octopus was sliced thin and the texture reminded me of pepperoni. It was served on top of some bubbling cheese. It was also seasoned with paprika, but didn’t add much heat in terms of spiciness. I think this would have been perfect on top of a pizza and I would have loved it like that.IMG_1957

Our next course was the braised rabbit leg on top of polenta. This too was really good. Rabbit is probably Dawnee’s favorite meat and she orders it whenever she sees it on a menu. Honestly, I don’t really remember what kind of sauce they used. All I remember was that it tasked great. That’s what happens when I wait too long to post this meal to the blog.IMG_1961 IMG_1963Lastly, we still had to ask for dessert. When I asked the waiter if they had a dessert menu he replied excitedly, “I am the dessert menu!” We all laughed and he proceeded to tell us all of the choices. Since I am a chocoholic, the chocolate mouse caught my attention. It was served in a martini glass and was topped with croutons, sea salt, and olive oil. As you may know, I love the salty-sweet combination and I could not pass this up. And yes, it was amazing! The chocolate was creamy yet really light and the croutons added a nice crunch to it. If I would serve my version of this to people, I might just replace the sea salt with crispy bacon.

This was a great first impression of the food in Spain and was pretty much the best meal the entire trip. I highly recommend checking this place out if you make it out to Madrid. I would definitely recommend making reservations because the restaurant is really small. It probably has a capacity of about 40 people and it gets really crowded. This place is great for two people and it is also great for a party of 8. Everyone will definitely have a good time. I cannot compliment our waiter enough for being so helpful and for making our first meal in Spain one to really remember. Looking back, I really feel like we should have tipped him a lot more than we did. I’m sure they don’t expect tips as much as waiters in the US do, but he really earned it. I would not have minded if we ate here for dinner every night while we were in Madrid. It was fantastic.

My Ratings:

Food – 4.6 / 5

Mussels Tikka Masala (had to be rated separately) – 7 /5

Atmosphere – 4 / 5

Service – 8 / 5

 

 

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About ajsrichantra

Simple things make me happy.
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