It is coming up to the yearniversary of MuchBites. Time does truly fly. It has been a gastronomic year of hunting for great food served in great places. At MuchBites, one thing has always been and always will be certain: the hunting is tireless and only places you cannot help but repeat again and again are featured, places you just cannot help but call your second home. It goes without saying that home is where the heart is and during the past gastronomic year some establishments have taken this heart of MuchBites. You only have to be an active Instagram follower to know which places have outdone the majority and earned themselves a home badge.
One fact though has come up constantly and consistently during the year of hunting for these extra homes around Madrid. This fact is that Venezuelan people are doing big things in the kitchen. A few of the favourite places that MuchBites has frequented have been owned by these most welcoming of people. So it only followed that a hunt to catch up with some of the Venezuelan favourites was in order. In so doing, the aim was to find out a little about what keeps us and others alike returning and how this momentum would be kept up in 2016. The questions posed were only 3 and mightily simple:
- In one sentence, describe your restaurant
- What have you done to create an environment that entices people to keep coming back?
- What can we expect from your restaurant in 2016?
First stop was at La Casa Tomada. This house (as the name suggests) burst onto the Madrid culinary scene sometime in October. In such a short space of time, it has become a hit with flavour seekers. A visit to this place and a few bites into their famed chilli cheese fries and gourmet bocadillos will assure you that this place is THE place to be at. MuchBites caught up with Jose Antonio, owner of La Casa Tomada and posed the 3 questions to him.
Jose Antonio certainly had no hesitation in answering question one. In a sentence, he describes his restaurant as “an artistic and gastronomic meeting place.” This is something you feel in the restaurant as you marvel at the walls and high ceilings are decorated with modern art pieces from the community. The large, group-size tables explain the meeting place description of La Casa Tomada.
To answer question two, Jose Antonio eloquently explained how they have tried to astonish their diners with the sizes of their portions and how this element of astonishment is carried through with an experience that encapsulates the five senses. “Listening to good music, smelling the different dishes, looking at art, eating with your hands and processing the explosion of flavours created for the diners’ tastebuds,” as Jose Antonio explains,” all add to the environment we have created for people to come and feel at home at La Casa Tomada.”
It is impossible not to sense the warm feelings Jose Antonio has for his restaurant endeavour. The last answer indeed transmitted the love behind all that has been done thus far. In 2016, there will be much to be excited about from this artistic gourmet bocadillo restaurant. The menu is certainly going to see major new additions. These include tasty tequeños (Venezuela’s answer to cheese sticks), 5 new types of chips and some size modifications so that big eaters and small eaters alike are well catered for. To keep things fresh, every month will see a new bocadillo addition that will be coupled with a special craft beer. Speaking of craft beers, all commercial beers will be taken off the menu so as to identify La Casa Tomada with more delicious artisan brews. Goodbye Mahou. The best thing to look forward to in 2016 will be the organisation of private parties in the restaurant’s secret space. Words cannot tell you how cool this space is. You have to call La Casa Tomada your home to get in on the secret. In 2016, for sure this Venezuelan-owned restaurant will keep doing big things!
Second to face the 3 questions was Katherine Bolaños, the owner of the small operation known as Delicakes. This was surely a surprising and welcome discovery to MuchBites. The American style cakery is definitely one to keep close to heart for all your cake needs. In a sentence, Katherine says Delicakes is “cakes full of flavour, made from the heart.” When you have tasted them, this sentence becomes ever true. To that all important question two, Katherine explains that “when you mix flavours from childhood, good ingredients, feeling and passion for what you love doing, the ensuing result is an excellent product.” Having tried a fair few Delicakes deliciousnesses, the resulting excellent product leaves no doubt. MuchBites would love to see Delicakes alive and well into the coming future. So, in 2016, Katherine promises us more efforts to improve techniques and create new products. She closed the interview on a cliffhanger, “this year, there will be big surprises.” Stay tuned on MuchBites and the surprises will be revealed as and when they develop!
The third restaurant on the list will not surprise anyone. It has been a game changer to the palate over the year. In fact, I would run out of fingers and toes if I had to count the amount of times I have found myself on their tables, dining away with friends from near and far. This is the Venezuelan child genius of the burger flipping family going by the name Goiko Grill. Logic dictated that MuchBites find out the secrets of the repeat factor. I met up with Daniela Goicoechea, Marketing Manager at Goiko Grill and inquired away.
In a sentence, she describes the burger joint as “a place where the focus in on searching for the best hamburgers all the while making our clients feel at home.” The aspects that have kept up us coming back in 2015 are described as the constant focus on the 3 principles of quality, efficiency and having a good time (buen rollo). With these 3 principles, Goiko Grill has managed to create the Goiko Grill Family (#FamiliaGoikoGrill) which goes further than just including the staff and the suppliers, but also includes all the people who visit constantly, those who love the brand as much as the founders themselves do. For sure, MuchBites has felt part of this burger family and we have enjoyed great customer care at the hands of the likes of Carmela, Niko, Ivan and Chino. What a family!
Aside from experiencing exponential success in 2015 with the opening of quite a number of Goikos around Madrid, what will 2016 have to offer? Daniela kindly let us in on a few tricks up their sleeves. These include new menus with some changes including a new version of the “hamburgesa estrella.” Improvements to the loyalty system to benefit those repeat customers are on the way, along with the possibility to buy some Goiko Grill merchandising and products. (Finally, some good old Goiko sauces at home) Most exciting for the 2016 is that Goiko Grill will be looking to expand its horizons and hopes to conquer the tastebuds and hearts of more Spanish folk up and down the country. What an entrepreneurial spirit indeed.
Visit number 4 took MuchBites to the place that describes itself in a sentence as “freestyle Latin cuisine.” This is none other than La Candelita restaurant that we find nestled on Calle Barquillo. In the spirit of their freestyle Latinness, La Candelita offers cocktails and a full menu with a few Venezuelan show stoppers. All of this is packaged and served in a beautifully decorated restaurant with artwork and a colour palette that mixes traditional and Spanish colonial influences.
What has La Candelita done to keep us coming back in 2015? Veronica Mauro, one of the partners explains, “we try to build loyalty by giving all a good time, kindness and by offering the best products and the best recipes of Latin food.” All the antics of the restaurant are well documented and kept alive on the restaurant’s social media channels so that all who want to discover freestyle Latin food can do so with ease. Veronica goes on to explain that “everything is done with such care and attention so that people feel at home as they discover this foodie side of Latin America with the special La Candelita touch.”
For 2016, the theme at this restaurant will be moving with the times. They will begin offering breakfast fusions of Latin/Spanish influence. The fully kitted bar will be availed to the afterwork frenzy with tapas offerings. More gastronomic surprises are said to be coming centred on the restaurant’s specialities; Ceviches and Causas. One cannot be told enough to get on trying the ceviches at La Candelita. The selection is wide and the flavours are intense. A personal favourite being the coconut ceviche. No doubt in 2016, MuchBites will carry on frequenting La Candelita and the hope will be to see you there too.
Of course, many are the restaurants in Madrid and to discover them all would be impossible. Thankfully, Madrid has a thriving foodie blogger scene and to wrap up this article, I caught up with one of the bloggers of Venezuelan origin, Patsy Montiel, also known as Madrid Seduce. As a giant on this gastronomic scene of Madrid, I put to her 3 questions of her own to understand past, present and future.
“What attracts Madrid Seduce to the world of gastronomy?” I asked. “Madrid is a delicious and rich city in regards to gastronomic offerings and through Madrid Seduce, I search to share with readers and followers all the new culinary developments and trends taking place in the city,” explained Patsy. As she further elaborates, “Madrid reinvents itself and grows gastronomically everyday and this must be discovered and told.”
In 2015, Patsy explained that she has sought to find and bring innovative and interesting experiences in Madrid. These experiences have been captivating to all the 5 senses; sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. To her, gastronomy plays a rather important role and for this reason, on the blog and on her various social media sites, there is always a lot of information and recommendations. Through use of many photos, she has helped us all to discover new places in every nook and cranny of Madrid. But above all, in 2015, Patsy says she has given us all her vision of one smitten with Madrid.
For 2016, Madrid Seduce hopes to carry on being the must go to channel for honest, truthful and fun information where one will always find something to ones liking or something new to try. She says she will continue to listen to her audience who bring such immense value to Madrid Seduce with their interactive interchanges of ideas.
Indeed for many bloggers alike, it is good to learn from other successful bloggers who have fallen in love and have successfully transmitted this Madrid love to a growing audience. It might be safe to say, if it is not on MuchBites, find it on Madrid Seduce!
For sure, Venezuelans have been able to hold their own in this eclectic city and the hats must be taken off to those who dare to dream and go on constructing value adding offerings to the hungry mouths of Madrid’s citizens and visitors.
Stayed tuned to year two of the MuchBites foodie antics. The best is yet to come.