24 November 2010

n.d.p. in madrid: hangover cuisine at almendro 13

Posting about this place not because it was particularly spectacular by any measure, but rather because I found it illustrative of the general joyous brutality of the whole tapas concept.

You walk in and fight - almost literally fight - your way to a table still cluttered and smeared with the greasy debris of its last occupants, where you wedge yourself in and immediately employ coats, scarves, and handbags as vital seat-holders for whichever poor souls among your party are kind or credulous enough to volunteer to fetch food and drinks, neither of which can be ordered from the table you just fought for. You must leave your seat and visit either the bar (either floor) or the kitchen (ground floor only), which venture risks inviting invasion by hawk-eyed seat-stealing Spanish women with lip-rings.

When you've completed your treacherous journey, returning to your table with water bottles in your cardigan pockets and three glasses of sherry precariously clutched in one hand and two plates balanced in the other, when you've spent damn near 35eu, only then do you tuck into your famous huevos rotos and realize you've just conducted all-out dining warfare for the sake of what is essentially cheap hangover cuisine - crispy potatoes, fried eggs, and diced ham, the kind of dish that in the past you've definitely thrown together at a more leisurely pace in the bleary early afternoon of a New Year's Day.

The thing is, I suppose, it tasted good then, and it tastes good at Almendro 13. Also they serve what is for me the rightly ubiquitous benchmark Manzanilla sherry, Bodegas Hidalgo's clear-eyed almondy sea-kissed La Gitana (an element that, come to think of it, has been missing from most of my hangover meals).

If I sound a little bitter in my description above, it's only because I'm squinting with grudging admiration at the genius of the tapas concept*, which I believe has had such export success because a) it disobliges restaurants from providing costly services, by turning the absence of said services into a selling point, and b) it is a kind of gleeful restaurant sadomasochism. They like to do it to us, and we sort of like it when they do.

*I mean this to include just about any place that takes no reservations, where it is hard to sit down, where your seat will be stolen, where things like napkins and water refills are dearly rationed. 

Image swipe from madrid.salir.com.

Almendro 13
13 Calle Almendro
28005 Madrid
Metro: La Latina
Tel: +34 913 65 42 52

Related Links:

Knocking back Txakolina at Limiak in La Latina, same trip

A kind of rambling profile of Almendro 13 @ Catavino
A recent Bodegas Hidalgo tour @ ThePassionateFoodie

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