September 11, 2012

Restaurante In Situ: in position to succeed.

I feel like it's been a while since I've gotten excited about a restaurant.

I'm not talking about a specialty restaurant, one that costs half your paycheck but creates an experience of a lifetime: eating gambas rojas (red prawns) straight out of the sea on a beach in Denia, or dining under the Michelin starlight; but rather a cozy neighborhood eatery that falls under the triumvirate of Spanish restaurant classification: Bueno, Bonito, Barato (good, pretty, cheap).
In fact, both times that I dined at In Situ, I not only found that prophesy fulfilled, but perhaps even exceeded.

Located on Madrid's Calle Valverde, between Malasaña and Gran Vía, the local itself is welcoming, with high ceilings, mismatched wooden tables and chairs, and a Swedishy, simplicity of lines, funky lamps and calming tones. A highlight is the large mural wall in the front room, painted and drawn over in a way reminiscent of chipping frescoes in Venice where humidity has taken its toll on the paint and imposed its own charming, faded pattern. This sounds strange, I know, but it really is lovely (you can catch a glimpse of it in the background of this photo). I wish I had a wall like that in my house. Up the small staircase, there are two back rooms with more tables. It may be slightly gloomier during the day, when the sun is cheerfully streaming in the restaurant's front window, but it is very cozy and romantic at night.

The food is a mixture of recognizable, international bistro fare, but each dish is prepared with its own arrangement of flavors and ingredients that makes it remarkably surprising: risotto with edamame, artichokes (real ones) and balsamic vinegar; sea bass ceviche with melon, alfalfa sprouts, pumpkin seeds and radish sauce; salmon in papillote with lime, ginger, cilantro and asparagus and raisin couscous; homemade potato gnocchi with sauteed fennel, crispy sage and shaved Idiazabal cheese; and the excellent roasted tomato and mozzarella salad with green olive romesco sauce. The dish in the photo, a creamy and flavorful foie mi-cuit, was accompanied by pumpkin jam preserves, nut bread and ground pistachios. Best of all, most of these carefully thought-out and equally as carefully prepared dishes are priced between 8 and 12 euros apiece - almost unheard of in the city these days. Both times I ate here I walked away paying just under 20 Euros, including wine.

My only complaint the restaurant's insistence in calling the whole thing "Fusion food" - oh for the love of anything sacred, when will that expression just die already?!!!  Your food is better than that, In Situ!

I digress. There is also a brunch menu on Sundays, which I have yet to taste although it looks promising (I am so tired of Madrid restaurants saying that they have brunch when often it is nothing of the kind, and then charging a fortune and serving industrially made muffins), because it opens earlier than most (at 11:30 - don't laugh, Americans), and the food is a la carte, with dishes like pancakes and delicious sounding scrambled eggs for around 4 or 5 Euros.

It's nice to finally have a neighborhood go-to again!

In Situ Restaurante
C/Valverde 40
+ 34 915 226 845


Unknown said...

I sure hope there's enough ventilation and dehumidifiers. It would be tragic for such good food to be ruined by a feeling of stuffiness and a mixture of different scents.

Unknown said...

This is surely putting fine dining to the next level. These dishes reminds me of the great places you'll soon discover when you're out to look for hotels to stay in london.

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