So I know I say I don’t go out much in Madrid, which is true. But recently I’ve been to two places that I really liked.
The first place is a restaurant called El Basha. I went last weekend to celebrate my roommate’s birthday. To check out the website (there is an English version of the restaurant and there is a picture of the restaurant’s interior) go here: http://www.restauranteelbasha.com/madrid/restaurante/index.htm The restaurant entices potential visitors with its tagline: “The finest Arab restaurant and tea room in Madrid. Enjoy our Arabic food, sishas, and teas. Discover the sensuality of bellydance.”
There was no belly dancing happening when I went so I guess they do that on specific nights, I’m not too sure. I had the couscous which consisted of lamb meat, vegetables, and wheat semolina. My plate came with a huge leaf of lettuce covering the food. While I certainly loved the couscous and lamb (and even ate some of the veggies), my only complaint was that it was not enough food. I was still hungry once I finished my plate. However the restaurant’s setting is very intimate and funky and the interior reminded me a lot of the restaurant I went to in Morocco. The tables were pretty low and were pushed against the walls which a whole bench ran along. The chairs were more like low stools.
The “degustation” menu cost around 20 euros and consisted of 3 creams, a sald, a second course to choose from, a drink, tea, and dessert. Oh and apparently the belly dancing happens on Saturday nights according to the website, which is when I was there but we went around 9 and I’m guessing the dancing doesn’t happen until much later. Typical of Spain. After eating dinner, I had some cinnamon tea. It was so good! In fact the tea selection is decent and they serve you the tea in individual mini pewter tea kettles.
Downstairs in El Basha, you can smoke “sishah” which I’m pretty sure means hookah haha. I didn’t even know there was another room until I went to the bathroom downstairs and glimpsed the hookah room through the open door. On the website, the picture depicts crimson drapes hanging from the walls and the ceilings with low tables and the Arabic looking poufs for people to sit and smoke on. Again, a lot like the restaurant. Everything is very low and squished together. While I’m not sure if I would return to smoke hookah (I’ve never tried it), I really liked the restaurant.
And then on Friday afternoon, my intercambio Laura and I met up in Sol so she could take me to the “Jardin Secreto” (Secret Garden), a tea salon near the Plaza de Espana. This place has a very eclectic decor. Laura had told me the decor was a little on the eccentric side but that the place had great postres (desserts). When we got there, the place was full so we waited about a half hour for a table. So definitely a good place to get reservations if you don’t intend on getting to the place at 6:30 PM which is when it opens at night. And the decor seriously does not match anything, everything is so different, from the bust of a rhinoceros sticking out of the wall to the huge train hanging in mid-air to the Marilyn Monroe pictures. At our table, underneath the glass were little brown pebbles interspersed with coasters with roosters on them (with the word “rooster” written in English). So yeah, a lot of random objects thrown into the mix that don’t match. But a few of the tables are isolated from the rest of the restaurant so definitely a place you can go for a date!
Laura had some apple pie dessert (which tasted amazing) and because I have such a sweet tooth, I opted for the dark and white chocolate mousse cake and some tea (and I forgot what kind of tea I got… it had a bunch of different things in it and unfortunately this place does not have a website so I can’t look at the menu online). There were also “death by chocolate” and “orgasm by chocolate” options which looked intriguing and which I will have to try next time I go. Jardin Secreto also has all these hot chocolate and coffee options along with cocktails without alcohol. I think there is a lunch menu and a light dinner menu too. Anyway my postre was delicious and so was Laura’s. And this review agrees with me that the desserts are amazing: http://www.spottedbylocals.com/madrid/el-jardin-secreto/
To continue with the tea theme since I realized I drank tea in both places, there is the cutest tea store on Calle Fuencarral, one of the main shopping streets in the center of Madrid. (Website is http://www.teashop.es and is also available in English) Browsing the website I think I remember the tea I had at Jardin Secreto: the thousand and one nights. My roommate Lindsey got some tea from there and shared it with me and Nicole and added honey to it. It smelled so good and I loved the taste so much I downed my tea pronto.
It’s a little strange to be on such a tea bender considering Spain is more of a coffee oriented country. However, I’m not a fan of coffee and I refuse to ever taste another cafe con leche. Tea all the way for this chica.