Date of Last Visit: Sunday, June 7th and then again on Monday, June 8th, 2009
The Victims: Myself the first time. Fernando, Guillermo and William the second time.
The Damage: About 25 euros the first time, and unknown the second time because Fernando paid.
The Background: I had all these grand plans of having a big day out in Madrid on Sunday.
Until I figured out that getting to Spain takes a long time. A really long time.
Not sure how I missed that.
My flight was at 9:30 a.m. from Heathrow and we took off on time. I landed in Madrid around 1 p.m. and then my luggage came out around 1:40 p.m. By the time I bought my metro tickets and figured out where I was going, it was after 2 p.m. And by the time I checked into my hotel, it was nearly 3 p.m. So by the time I was ready to go anywhere, it was 5 p.m. (I squeezed in a quick workout at the hotel gym.)
So–worst possible time to eat in Madrid?
Lunch is over and dinner won't start til 9:30 p.m. (10, really.) But it was 5 p.m. and I was STARVING. And so the hotel directed me to Jose Luis. And it was okay. Just okay. (I had the squid–a different squid than what I talk about below.)
And Even More Background: Now fast-forward to the next evening. My colleagues suggest taking me out to dinner. I say sure. And we start walking. And we're walking some more. And eventually I say, "Are we going to Jose Luis?"
And we are.
Really, what are the chances?
The Entrance: My waiter from the previous evening doesn't recognize me. I think this is a bit of a bummer. Even after we had this whole discussion where he said everything in Spanish and I said everything in English and we totally understood each other.
The Food: I put myself in the hands of my Spanish colleagues. (I don't mind someone else ordering for me when I've asked them to order for me.) And so the parade begins. The first dish of the night is the best dish, and it leave me with high hopes for Jose Luis. It's squid and the batter is great. Super great. And then there's some jamon serrano, roughly cut. It's pretty darn good too. And the manchego cheese. I have no complaints. We've started this meal on a high note.
But then the pulpo arrives. And it looks great, with great big chunks of octopus. But it's not so good. It's tough and chewy. Poor reviews from around the table…my Spanish colleagues apologize to me for it.
The Pimientos de Padron arrive, and they look like they've been through a lot, just to get here. They're okay. But they seem slightly overcooked. And I like them with a bit of rock salt.
In between, there's some forgettable calamari (for which my colleagues, again, apologize) and then we have fun with Google Translate trying to figure out what this next dish is. It's cuttlefish. And it's chewy. But the garlicky mayonnaise is good.
The Verdict: There are lots of people who probably love this restaurant and give it rave reviews. I thought it was just okay. But the squid (the second time) was great.