La Tasquita de Enfrente

Espardenyes con habitas
Juanjo López
Country: Spain
City: 28004 Madrid
Address: Ballesta, 6
(+34) 915325449
Closed: Sunday, Monday, and August
Price: 70/120 €
Tasting menu:: 65 y 80 €

Let’s say it clearly and loudly: In which restaurant do you eat best in Madrid? You might find some more luxurious and helpful places, of course, but as long as what food is concerned, you won’t find any better table.
Juanjo López’s secret is as elementary as difficult: excellent products; proverbial doneness; simple, original and nuanced constructions. Nature, naturality and historical memory are reinterpreted in a minimalist way. Like in the delicious sautéed sea cucumbers served with baby peas or peeled beans –which don’t affect the purity of the other ingredients– and the leading thread of a broth that combines the oceanic and vegetal flavours. The sautéed baby octopus with snow pea are not less delightful and couldn’t be any purer. And what can we say about the prawn from Denia briefly cooked after injecting virgin olive oil in its head! One of the best prawn in Spain, comparable to the version you can taste at El Poblet, Ca Sento, Ascua, La Sirena and a few more places… The feast of top quality products goes on with the sweet and juicy shrimps from Motril, slightly cooked and served warm. For refined and light tradition, taste the creamy beans or white beans, depending on the season, served in their broth with a raw onion brunoise (very pertinent!), chilli and a gigantic clam from Motril, opened in the saucepan and served separately in order to preserve all its juice. Another example of Juanjo’s obsession for exclusivity is the salmon snout –a specific cut made in the fish’s head–, very gelatinous and greasy, that tastes like caviar (!) and is proposed hot onto selected and impeccable boiled potatoes. Another tremendous essential dish is the deboned entire sardine, reconstructed, extremely juicy, rosy, soaked with an exultant and precise kebab on a layer of tiny fried chilli. The brains of a recently killed suckling lamb with black butter, capers, baby onions and fresh garlic are based on the same incredible philosophy and meticulousness. And don’t miss the callos a la Ballesta, very popular and basic tripes. Nor the Russian salad with sea urchins, the thistles with truffle or any of the infinite essential delicacies expressed with the chef’s innate and unsurpassable taste.