Meet Me in the Lobby

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Literally occupying a space between Madrid’s famous – and famously touristy – Gran Via on one side and hipster Chueca on the other, Lobby Market is a great place to eat when in Madrid, whether for snacking on its excellent tapas or for a full meal.

Opened in 2013, Touza Arquitectos’s design for this substantial interior makes clever use of different levels. The higher street-level space on the Gran Via side of the building houses an elegant cocktail-cum-tapas bar while the much lower space with an entrance on Calle de las Infantas provides a tall, but somehow intimate, more formal dining area. And, the tiered section of giant wooden ‘steps’ in between, though originally more of a lounge space has since been given over to an upcycled dining area with a leafy, bistro feel…which clearly says something about the food.

Jorge Reina’s kitchen walks a confident line between pretty traditional cooking and the creativity of Spain’s contemporary culinary culture, dripping in Michelin stars. In this sense it is perfectly pitched, located as it is between a popular tourist and shopping street and easy reach of the local trendies. Combined with the elegantly relaxed décor and atmosphere, Reina’s delicious fare is perfect for those busy city breaks when you really fancy something special but are just too tired to dress up or deal with the theatre of haute cuisine’s more uptight establishments.

The menu features a lot of the tricks of the legendary Spanish chefs: Asian influences, clever ways of altering the texture of ingredients and a keen eye for presentation. For example, starters like the smoked avocado and candied tuna salad or the delicious artichokes with foie royale, katsobushi and chervil leaves. The latter is worth trying simply for the mouth-watering smoky aroma that arrives at your table even before the food. But, if you want to stay much more traditionally Spanish there is also an upmarket version of huevos rotos on offer.

By contrast, more of the main courses are fairly traditional Spanish dishes with a new twist such as the flaky and tender glazed Iberian pork shank with Provençal potatoes and sage or even the glazed baby lamb shoulder with parsnips and ‘organized’ salad. And there are also a lot of fusion dishes that combine Spanish and Japanese techniques. But, frankly, anyone who doesn’t try the whole baby stuffed squid with black rice and Idiazabal cheese is missing out on something truly special.

If the rest of the dessert menu is as perfect as the white chocolate ganache with passion fruit and mango and baked cheesecake with cranberry jam and cherry ice-cream that we polished off, anyone with a sweet tooth is guaranteed a good time.

Accompany all of this from a solid wine menu of almost entirely Spanish produce and it adds up to a perfect meal, especially when the bill arrives: Lobby Market is extremely good value for money.
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Jorge Reina’s artichokes with foie royale, katsobushi and chervil leaves

 

 

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