In just a few years Arzabal has made a name for itself among tavern lovers in Madrid. They opened for business in 2009 as a small gastro-bar at nº 2 Doctor Castelo and one year later they were expanding to a much bigger restaurant next door on Menendez Pelayo right next to El Retiro. Although many people say they still prefer the original charm of the first tavern the new one has a much sleeker décor. With the economy going down, what is the secret of their success? First off, the two owners Álvaro and Iván are warm and welcoming making you feel right at home. Second off, the food which tastes like grandma’s fine home cooking.
An Ode to the Croqueta
Personally, I am a fan of croquetas and I am in a constant pursuit of the perfect one which has to be the ideal balance between the creamy texture and the flavor. At Arzabal, I have found, if not the perfect one a very good one.
An Ode to Butter
Some years back butter was hardly ever served in Spanish restaurants where the more typical olive oil or alioli sauce was preferred but now butter is back. If you are a butter fan, you will love the French butter basket at Arzabal. Not eating a kilo is an exercise in itself of self-control.
An Ode to La Torrija
I used to say, “I don’t like” but now I say, “it could be good” because there is a culinary truth which is, almost anything with the proper preparation can be good. This has proven to be right time and time again and is precisely what happened with the typical Spanish torrija with is traditional at Easter time. Although I like French toast I used to find torrijas to be too soggy, that is until I tasted it at Arzabal. I don’t know if it is the brioche, the caramelized topping or the ice-cream paring but ever since I tried it some years back it has become a must.
But one cannot fill an empty stomach on croquetas and torrijas alone so here are some of my favorite dishes; chicken wings a la pepitoria, the rice with duck or “el senyoret”, fried eggs with truffle sauce, meatballs or the callos. One of my all time comfort foods is “pochas” which is a type of white bean. There is nothing like a warm pot on a cold winter’s day.
As you can tell I am a fan of Arzabal but there is a downside and that is the price. The quantity/price ratio is a bit steep. This is not your typical tavern with oversize servings but if you can get over that, the food is delicious.
Price without drinks 30/40€ per person
Doctor Castelo 2
915 572 691
Menéndez Pelayo 13
914 095 661