Before you’re even through the sliding door at Pim Pam Madrid, it is clear you’re in for an experience. The styling of the restaurant and bar is impressive. Decidedly shabby chic, carefully crafted to look cool and comfortable, the lighting warm and welcoming. The stage is set, but can the substance match the style? When on the search for the best restaurants in Madrid, this really is the key to success.
Madrid is a city where you can quite easily come across high end fine dining, only to discover a restaurant that lacks soul and flavour. Or rock up to the most on-trend hipster bar only to find the bar staff don’t know how to make a Mojito. Initial impressions at Pim Pam were excellent.
You enter to a corner bar with restaurant seating beyond at both ends. The clever use of space hinting that the owners care about what they are creating here. Very promising, as is the obvious popularity of the place. Locals fill up the bar giving the atmosphere a buzz and diners chat excitedly together on large round group tables or in twos in romantic dimly lit corners.
The philosophy of Pim Pam is simple and visibly expressed through the menu and drinks options in addition to the stylistic elements. The goal is to feature amongst the best restaurants in Madrid. Producing top draw dishes in a relaxed environment is the aim, An emphasis on quality ingredients and classy, creative flavour combinations is exciting. The menu is refreshingly small (something I prefer as it leads to greater sustainability and seasonality of ingredients) but with admirable variety. The ambition of the place is brave. They are attempting to provide modern twists on traditional Spanish dishes alongside fusion food, tapas options and original menu items.
So does it succeed?
The meal began with an aperitivo of quality Manchego with a glass of white wine, which lifted the creaminess of the cheese and matched the delicious tang. Next followed a salad of spinach, goat’s cheese, bacon and nuts. This was no ordinary goat’s cheese salad: simultaneously earthy and acidic, accompanied by a rich smokiness from the bacon. Truly full flavour achieved with the help of an invisibly light dressing packing serious citrus punch.
With our taste buds tingling and the wine choices expertly picked out for us, the promising beginnings were delivering the desired result. The tuna tataki (opening image) had us raving about the sophisticated blend of classic Asian flavours combined with sweet mustard. Perfectly cooked wok vegetables and a left-field but winning deep red fruit sauce charmed us. The richness of the accompaniments against the melt in the mouth tuna proved to be a triumph, and must sit alongside the offerings in the best restaurants in Madrid.
A sumptuous and sweet chocolate cake finished the meal in heart warming fashion. The feeling was that Pim Pam manages to tick virtually all the boxes. And that without missing a step. The environment is aesthetically pleasing and relaxing. The food is varied but hangs together as a menu. This is because of a consistent thread of creative originality. The drinks are chosen with precision but without pretentiousness.
I will personally be returning to Pim Pam, to the bar for drinks with friends and soaking up the atmosphere, and to the restaurant to try the dishes I didn’t get to try this last time. Go and be safe in the hands of owners and staff who demonstrably love what they are doing. They care about the food and about making a positive impact on the wider Madrid food scene. I’m sure they’re destined to do just that.