El Pescador

C. de José Ortega y Gasset, 75, Madrid, 28006, Spain

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This venerable restaurant opened in 1975 and is located in a quiet side street in the centre of Madrid. There is a large dining room with a long counter running down one side with an impressive display of the seafood of the day. The main course seafood dishes are ordered and priced by weight.

The wine list had no vintages listed yet did have real bargains. A glass of Vega Sicilia Alion was just €18 and a bottle merely €86, barely its UK retail price that translates to about €72. Pazo Barrantes Abarino was €39 for a bottle that costs €49 in a shop, and the Vega Sicilia Unico Reserva Especial (which is actually a blend of three top vintages) was €540 for a wine with a market value of €482. Wine prices in Spain are always a breath of fresh air after London.

A big hunk of crusty bread arrived, fresh and with good texture. Iberico ham (5 jotas from Huelva, using pure bred Iberian pigs) was cut well and was lovely. Tuna tartare arrived as a generous portion served on slivers of toast. The tuna had capers mixed in and the seasoning was well judged, the dish itself having excellent flavour (14/20).

White Huelva prawns were simply grilled and salted, served in their shells. These prawns have a particularly sweet taste and are lovely when cooked simply like this (easily 14/20). Santiago almond tart was basic but pleasant, albeit it won’t be troubling the pastry sections of top French restaurants (13/20).

Service was functional, and although there was an English menu, spoken English was at a premium. There was only one waiter seemingly qualified to take the order, and he appeared to be entirely in no rush whatsoever to do so despite my arriving as they opened and being the very first diner to be seated. However, my actual waiter was good and dishes arrived quickly as I had requested (I had a plane to catch). Double espresso coffee was industrial but harmless enough at a doubtless quite profitable €4 a cup with no petit fours whatsoever. The bill came to €127 (£110) with two glasses of good wine.

El Pescador is an old-fashioned restaurant serving very good ingredients cooked simply, and may we all be thankful for that in these days of ill-judged tasting menus that often seemed designed to show off to other chefs rather than being anything that a normal customer would want to eat. May it last another 48 years.

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