There are literally thousands of restaurants in Madrid, but the classic everyday madrileño eatery is becoming a rarer sight these days, an that’s a big shame. In the Plaza de Manuel Becerra not far from the Ventas Bullring, the Restaurante Menéndez still offers the customer the best of no-frills fare at the friendly price of just 9.50€ per person. Juanma and I went there last Sunday. I hadn’t had a good old-fashioned Sunday menú del día in a long time and looked forward to the chance to enjoy one, even though my life hasn’t been one which I should be enjoying very much of. In any event, Juanma knew just the place I was looking for and told me “Old Juanma knows how to take care of you.”
Except for an unusually fairly violent verbal war raging on in the small back dining room between a couple accompanied by their baby and an elderly pair – we never did quite understand what the altercation was all about – but things finally settled down and we were able to get down to our meal. We didn’t waste any time and ordered the exact same thing: paella for the first round and roast lamb for the main course and a little red wine and sweet soda water to go with it. They brought a whole litre of it in a traditional glass bottle. It was the great light red and we would fill half the cup with the wine and the other half with the soda.
Well, the rice dish the set before me wasn’t the typical spoonful they slop on the plate but a heap, a mound, a pile of yellow rich chock full of squid, shrimp, chicken and vegetables. I practically had to push it aside to see Juanma. By the time I bore a hole through it and cleared away the sides I was nearly stuffed, the main course, a large meaty bone of lamb with French fries. I couldn’t even finish it. Then some homemade caramel custard to wrap it up and we were ready for a lazy walk home.
So, yes, it’s nice to know you can find a good old-fashioned Madrilanian restaurant right down the road.