Let us all bow our heads and laud the coming of a society where food and drink are so highly praised, where every self-respecting newspaper and magazine has a culinary writer, and where you can’t sneeze without finding locally made grass-fed chorizo.
Welcome to Madrid, a place where you can still get absolutely stellar material prima. There are great fruits and vegetables, a fantastic variety of meats, and some of the freshest fish you can find anywhere in Spain; and the best part is that most of the products that you buy at your local market ARE, in fact, organic, although not labeled as such due to the its yet perceived unimportance. There is also new species of gourmet specialty shops opening here: chocolate, cheese, oil, etc., and of course an invasion of new restaurants, one a block, one a minute, and each more modern than the last. Let us praise the fact that in Madrid the culinary craze has hit just as hard. The only problem is that this evolution has, in many ways, made dining out in Madrid a nightmare.
The problem could perhaps be best described by the age old Mom-ism, “well if all your friends want to jump off a cliff would you want to jump of a cliff too?” In the Madrid restaurant scene the answer is a resounding just tell me when and where to jump. Now don’t misunderstand me, there are excellent restaurants in Madrid, both old and new, but the problem seems to boil down to a pervasive lack of criteria that has suddenly given the green light to either creating an incredible atmosphere of design and style and adding the food as an afterthought, or more recently, throwing a coat of paint on an old restaurant, giving it a new name or look, and charging ridiculously exorbitant prices for food that is pretty much same ole same ole. The even bigger problem as far as I can tell is that there is no one thorough and more importantly, independent restaurant review network here. The closest that I have found is the Metropoli guide published by El Mundo newspaper, which is actually a very complete guide to restaurants in Madrid. The problem is that Metropoli calls you up, tells you they’re coming by, and as far as I know and in my own experience, has their food chosen and paid for by the establishment. Therefore, I propose to create anonymous (to the restaurant) forum for restaurant reviews, not with the intention of weeding out the bad, but also with the objective of piling praise on the good. While the rating system might take a while to sort out, sometimes I think it best just to get the ball rolling.