“Don’t work, you’re here to enjoy!” said Javier, as I got out my notebook at the table. Javier, or Gucho, (a nickname meaning someone who writes left-handed, because he once picked up a pen as a kid with his left hand!) is an excellent host who creates a welcoming, fun, indulgent atmosphere at La Cocina de Gucho, a newbie on the Madrid restaurant scene, opened in August last year.
Walking in, you notice how clean, bright and sparkling the restaurant is. Attention to detail is there in spades – what would we like to drink? Perhaps a beer, wine, a Pisco sour, an Aperol Spritz?! We opted for beers which were served in ‘Soria’ glasses, elegant fine glass tumblers that keep the beer colder for longer. These were accompanied by crisps, olives, ‘altramuces’ (white lupin beans) and a wonderful dried red pepper- a beautiful burst of colour and great sweet complement to the salty crisps.
The food was all outstanding; we started with ‘Croquetas de Chipi’ (squid croquettes served on mini beds of wakame)- the creamy dark richness of the croquettes was perfectly counterbalanced by the light freshness of the wakame. We also tried ‘Torreznos de Soria’ – none of the cold deep-fried porky sadness you sometimes see in tapas bars. Here, these were divine springy morsals of bacon.
For our main course, we moved on to ‘Butifarra blanca de la Garriga con pan con tomate’ – once again, I might not have opted for this Catalan white sausage elsewhere, but I was so glad I tried it here. Super juicy and with a freshness that was evident in every dish at this delightful Madrid restaurant. It was accompanied by little chunks of delicious dark bread spread with tomato, olive oil and salt. Javier is proud of his vegetable offering at Gucho’s, which is very welcome here in Madrid, and we had the joy of trying a seasonal speciality of ‘Calçots’ – a cross between a mild green spring onion and a mini leek.
These succulent sweet delights were served with red pepper and nut ‘Romesco’ sauce – these onions have their own annual celebration in Barcelona known as the Calçotada – because, well, Spain knows how to celebrate these things! (Tip: google ‘how to eat a Calçot’ – so you avoid eating the green tops as I did at Gucho!). We also tried the most beautiful ‘Alcachofas en flor’ – delicious caramelised artichokes – so tender they fell apart on the plate.
We finished our main course with ‘Pito de ternera de La Finca con su salsa de champis y miel’ perfectly cooked veal in a light honeyed sauce served with mushrooms and rocket – a gorgeous combination of flavours, and so nice to see some greenery served alongside meat!
We finished our fabulous meal with no less than two desserts – a ‘coulant con aceite de oliva Extra Virgen y sal Maldon’ served with ice cream – a heavenly warm melting middle chocolate pud with the delicious contrasts of tangy sea salt and olive oil, as well as the cold ice cream. We also indulged in a ‘postre de Gucho’ the recipe for which is painted on one of the walls of this fun Madrid restaurant. A sort of dense flan and cuajada combination. These puddings, accompanied by a glass of Urezti Itsas Mendi (a Basque sweet wine) definitively marked the end of this wonderful meal!
Prices average between 10-15 Euros a dish at this Tetuan-based restaurant which seems excellent value considering the quality. It’s clear that Javier is in his element as host at his restaurant, creating playful combinations, including (authorised!) homages to famous dishes from other restaurants such as the Carbonara de Andrea Tumbarello de D.Giovanni.
The food here is delicious – fresh, clean – yet indulgent and elegant; intrigued? Head to Cocina de Gucho to enjoy for yourself –highly recommended and not to be missed!
Address: C/ Ramirez de Madrid, 16
Telephone: 910 39 24 51