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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Sacha, Madrid.

A restaurant where chefs eat is a bit of a cliché but in the case of Sacha it's highly appropriate. When the likes of Grant Achatz, Ferrán Adria and Juan Mari Arzak come to town, it's here that they choose to dine. In my interview last week with Nacho Manzano, when I mentioned I was coming here, his eyes lit up. I hear David Muñoz of DiverXO is a fan. Everybody knows Sacha. We wanted to visit on our previous trip to Madrid but they were closed for holidays. It's not an easy place to find even with the correct address. It is in fact down an unsigned alleyway. We only find it with the help of a friendly old lady. "No, no!" she cries as we go down the wrong road, "the second turning!" Finally arriving, it looks like a traditional bistro and it is in a way. But there is nothing 'normal' about the cuisine here, the food is extraordinary. It's famously the restaurant of Chef Sacha Hormaechea but we were welcomed by my twitter pal and chef there Manuel Urbano Torres. (He's soon to open his own restaurant, La Malaje).
We begin with Medregal. Manuel says this is like mojama (salt cured tuna). But this is superior to any mojama we've had. It's more like a delicate and fresh tuna sashimi. Inspired by tapas bars in Cádiz and presented on an upturned tin can.
Oyster Escabeche. Beautiful pickled oysters in a fresh, zingy acidic sauce which doesn't overpower the freshness of the wonderful product.
I've got a very good feeling about this meal already as this is all excellent. We drink a fine (and apparently rare) Emilio Rojo Ribeiro from a very good wine list. We continue with fresh Lime Zamburiñas. A species of small scallop. You squeeze the lime as you take a bite. 
Then onto Mussels followed by Red Shrimp from Denia at Mortero. This is absolutely stunning. We are instructed to crush the head a little with the mortar, squeeze all the precious juice out and mix with the sauce. It is unbelievably good as it enhances the natural flavour of the prawn brains into the most wonderful flavoursome and intense broth.
"Falsa Lasanga" Fake sea urchin lasagne is one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. It has a silky smooth texture and that pure hit of deep sea flavour.
  Kokotxas. Are also as good as anywhere we've had them. They were not in the traditional green sauce as you might find in the Basque country. We eat Pargo (sea bream) at Papillot, a North African inspired fish dish. Also 'Thincle' in white sauce. (a bland veg dish, like a palate cleanser)
Tuetano is the restaurant's signature Bone Marrow and comes with a side of some of the best steak I've eaten. Luckily Mrs B is struggling so I get top eat some of hers too. It's yet another serious show stopper. I dip the bread in the liquid meaty gravy with relish.

 There are a series of five dishes here (Oyster, Denia Prawns, false lasagne, kokotxas and the bone marrow) that are as fine as anything we've ever eaten. We are totally blown away by Sacha. I knew it would be good but not until I ate here did I get it. It also change the way I think about food in a small way. The flavours are actually better than many Michelin star restaurants, unadorned with fashion or over elaboration. The clarity and purity of flavours and simplicity along with the old school charm of the place makes it our favourite restaurant in Spain. It's that good. Like those famous chefs, our future visits to Madrid from now on will always start with Sacha.
The photos are not up to the usual standard as at night Sacha is too dark to take good photos.


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