Asador de Lechazo in Madrid?
One of my most vivid food memories is that of the lechazo of the Pedraza/Sepulveda area which we visited about 5 years ago. I am planning a return to Spain in January, which will include four nights in Madrid.
My question is: Can I hope to recreate the quality of that lechazo in the capital? If I can come close, can we discuss specific Madrileno lechazo restaurants? We will be staying in the Barrio de la Letras, but are willing to take a taxi.
Are there restaurants that do both pig and lamb well or do they specialize in one or the other? (My interest in mainly in the lamb, however)
On a related topic, Are any of the asadores open in the evening on Sunday, our day of arrival? If not, can you recommend a great tapas spot for Sunday evening?
I hope others can come to the rescue but my search for 'great' lechazo in Madrid was a failure earlier this year.
My research indicated only one 'authentic' oven in Madrid (at Asador Tierra Aranda), but it turned out that there had been a change in ownership (recently) and although the meal was OK - it didn't cause any sparks.
I faced the same 'Sunday' issue and ended up at Botin - some describe it as a tourist trap, but the food was pretty good (that sounds vague, but it was better than I'd expected - by no means a life-altering experience, and the suckling pig was excellent - didn't notice lamb on the menu). Hard to beat the combination - especially on a Sunday.
I got in early, but it got very crowded later - reservations strongly advised.
Thanks, from one E to another. I also came across mentions of Asador de Aranda (not Tierra Aranda)--wonder if anyone can comment on those: They have multiple locations in Madrid.
I did not know that Aranda de Duero was considered the "capital of lechazo" in Spain--I had thought that this was Sepulveda. Wonder if the preparation is different in both places.
Any other thoughts, anyone?
Next questions which may make the above a moot point:
Is January a bad time to be even thinking about lechazo? From what I have read recently, the best season is spring, so I am curious about the differences between winter and spring lamb.
Would the lamb at the Madrid asadores be cordero asado in January and lechazo in the springtime?
For roast lamb head to La Posada de la Villa. Open from 1pm to 4pm and 8pm to 12pm. Closed on Sunday night.
Restaurant & tapas at the counter open on Sunday night: Taberna de La Daniela at Plaza Jesús. Las Letras (behind the Westin Palace). Recommendations: croquetas and tortilla.
Thank you, Juan. I've read many of your earlier posts here and they have been most helpful.
But what about the idea of eating lamb in January?
Will this be lechazo or will it be older roast lamb? I am trying to decide if I should "waste" one of my few dinners in Madrid chasing lechazo, or if that is a dish better enjoyed in another season and perhaps in another location..
About tapas: Is the east side of Retiro a good area for tapas and if so, do you know Taberna Laredo, Calle Menorca, #14?
Can you recommend any good restaurant review online sites for Madrid, or for the country? Spanish-language is ok.
Don't know about the 'lechazo season', I love roast lamb anytime.
Taberna Laredo es excellent (and pricey). Recs: Revuelto de caviar de oricios y habitas (scrambled egg with sea urchin caviar and baby broad beans), pisto con queso de cabra (ratatouille with goat cheese), salmorejo and ensaladilla. The east side of Retiro is excellent for tapas. Consider also Arzabal at Calle Doctor Castelo 2. Excellent wines, croquetas and callos (tripe); Casa Portal at Calle Doctor Castelo 26. Recs: fabada (Asturian kidney beans stew), tortilla de bonito (tuna omelet), queso de Cabrales (Asturian blue cheese); Rafa at Calle Narvaez 68. Expensive but the best shellfish in town. Recs: salpicón de marisco (seafood salad), ensaladilla, jamón ibérico.
I wouldn't try to replicate the Sepúlveda-Segovia-Pedraza-Aranda lechazo experience in Madrid. It simply won't be the same; at least, I haven't found it so. I wouldn't chase it in Madrid, never do it in the evening. Instead, I'd enjoy it in Castilla-León, during any season.
As to lechazo, I've had two recent experiences in the past month-first in Mannix in Campaspero (Valladolid province), which proved to be the best, most tender, succulent, most redolent-of-thyme-and rosemary lechazo I've ever had, bar none, even better than Tinín in Sepúlveda and El Figón in Pedraza.
and the second at Nazareno, in Roa de Duero (just west of Aranda de Duero, Burgos province), in the Ribera del Duero, D.O.
I call Nazareno Castilla y León's "lamb palace", whose lechazo was less herb-infused, much meatier (and probably older), but darn good, nonetheless.
These two experiences were in late October. And on a Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend, this palace was packed to the rafters-not an empty table in sight.
I've dined on lechazo in Segovia, Pedraza, Sepúlveda, Sacramenia, Aranda, Lerma, Sotosalbos, Torrecaballeros...and at the above-mentioned roast lamb "temples" and have never been able to replicate the experience in Madrid.
Much has to do with the surroundings, the country setting, the relaxed, convivial and festive weekend dining, the quality of the raw ingredients, the skill of the asador (such as the young and super enthusiastic Marco García of Mannix), the oven and even the type of wood used in it.
As to Retiro district dining, it's my favorite area in the city, as it offers a multitude of great spots with fare prices and far fewer tourists, if any.
I LOVE Arzábal (especially its brand new extension that faces Retiro Park on Menéndez y Pelayo, much more comfortable than the original location on Dr. Castelo), RUN, don't walk here.
Taberno Laredo for its fabulous wine list and small plates (as JuanDoe has mentioned)
Rafa for some of the best shellfish in the city, loved by in-the-know locals (but somewhat less expensive than the other extremely pricey marisquerías such as Sanxenxo, Combarro, O'Pazo, El Barril), If you want to dine on great seafood but don't want to break the bank completely, I would choose Rafa. There's also O'Grelo on Menorca, but Casa Rafa gets even better reviews (fab roasted turbot).
La Montería for its excellent game dishes,
Couzapín and Carlos Tartiere for Asturian fare,
Casa Portal on Dr. Castelo for the same,
Taberna del Puerto for Andalusian pescaíto frito and arroces caldosos (part of the Oter empire),
Barandales for cuisine from León and Zamora and great value menú del día (weekdays),
Venta la Hidalguía for Manchego fare-cheeses and charcuterie
Negur Etxea for Basque pinxtos, Vizcaya style.
The Retiro district is a SUPERB area for a tapas crawl or small plates dinner, and most bars there still serve up a complimentary tapa with each drink order. I'll gladly walk the extra mile for the really good food served up here.
Unfortunately of the above-mentioned east of Retiro Park dining spots, only Carlos Tartiere and Couzapín, I believe, are open on Sunday nights. They have become our staples for Sunday night grazing.
For Arzábal, you must call at least 4-5 days ahead. Their reservation book runneth over! And I understand why!
As for very dependable restaurant reviews, I rely on the highly knowledgeable, enthusiastic foodie posters/gourmet critics of the blog, Salsa de Chiles at www.abc.es/blogs/gastronomia (in Spanish), whose author is food critic Carlos Maribona.
For Sunday night Retiro district dining, the highly regarded Casa Rafa at Narváez, 68 (metro-Ibiza) is indeed open. It closes on Monday nights.
It's an institution, just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Tablecloth dining. Here's a description in Spanish (and photos)-
As Juan Doe mentioned in another thread, it serves great ensaladilla rusa.
Maribel you are a marvel, as I think I may have mentioned once or twice before! Do you know how long I searched for a site with details of Casa Rafa, only to turn up one of the same name in Molina de Aragon, of all places!? But I cannot get excited about ensalada russa, I am sorry to say.. What are the other specialties of Casa Rafa that you would recommend?
I will only have time for one seafood meal, and it sounds as if Casa Rafa should take pride of place over El Pescador, no? (I did also post a thread on another site, so you can take a look if you have time..)
I will return here when I have done some more reading...so I can refine the restaurant schedule..
El Pescador on Ortega & Gasset has been remodeled with a new bar, but reviews have somewhat been mixed (I haven't been lately). It should be slightly more expensive than Casa Rafa.
El Pescador is closed on Sundays.
You can spend a small fortune on a seafood meal in Madrid at some of the "for-generous-expense-accounts-only" seafood temples like Combarro, O'Pazo, Sanxenxo, El Telégrafo, all which I steer away from for a sit-down, break the bank meal.
I haven't yet been to Naveira do Mar, but you don't need to go all the way up to Santa Juliana (metro: Estrecho) with your limited time.
I would do Casa Rafa instead, but I'm thinking about value. You could also venture over to Arzábal or Taberna Laredo before for a drink at the bar while in the neighborhood.
Among the Casa Rafa specialties-
oven baked turbot (rodaballo)
nécoras (a smaller crab-don't know the exact English translation)
navajas a la plancha (razor clams)
most any and all shellfish
What I especially enjoy about dining in the Retiro district is that these spots are filled with locals in the know, giving the experience, for me at least, more authenticity.