La Taberna de Pedro (and the Restaurante Vinoteca Garcia de la Navarra)

As I write this I should declare that Pedro, Luis and the guys at la Taberna de Pedro (and the Restaurante Vinoteca Garcia de la Navarra) are friends of mine. For years my apartment was six floors and eleven metres from their door, and for well over a decade the Taberna, in all its forms, has been one of my happiest places. So this is not an absolutely objective appraisal. But I assure you that every word is true.

First, the food is outstanding. The hallmark of Pedro is taking top quality produce and preparing it beautifully. And while most people talk about “produce” they are thinking top end, whereas for Pedro the obsession is from top to bottom, whether it is the mature and aged steaks and the outstanding fish and assorted sea creatures he proudly posts on facebook, to the chard, borage, tiny “teardrop” peas, artichokes, and runner beans that he cooks like no-one else I know. His pisto is outstanding (and I don’t say that just because I get given an extra egg) and his menestra is the best in Madrid but his callos and, above all, the lengua (veal’s tongue) are special. There is also great variety – the stuff that is off menu is always worth trying if you can (and I say if you can because on more than one occasion my order has been overruled by Pedro in the kitchen). Yesterday we had the chard, runner beans with scallops, pochas and callos and I could not fault any one of them.

Second, the wine list is equally top class. In fact yesterday was the first time I have seen the wine list in years – I nearly always take the recommendations of Luis – but just behold the magnificent two volume, 90 odd page effort, with no fewer than 45 sherries by the glass (and rancios and dorados de rueda for the fashion conscious). With yesterday’s callos we had the mighty Villapanés, but there are a number of wines on that list that I am going to have to come back for. There is no doubt, if it weren’t for the thousands of other wines, this place would be famous for its sherries.

And there are thousands of other wines – it is a staggeringly varied list with wines from all over Spain and around the world, verticals and classic old vintages, frankly everything the most demanding winelover could desire, kept up to date by the sommelier’s sommelier – Luis. The man is an absolute legend and excels at finding great value wines in accesible styles that you probably haven’t heard of, but even more impressively he seems oblivious to the crazes, fashions and trends and if he thinks the wine is right he will recommend something you had forgotten about and written off years ago.

The guys split their time between the two locales but if you want to be close to Pedro you should aim for the Taberna, whereas if you want the fully immersive Luis experience you want the Restaurante Vinoteca. By long tradition I am a more frequent visitor to the Taberna – I have known some of the staff there since they were teenagers after all – but Luis seems to have forgiven me so far (although he does make a point of mentioning it).

And that would be my final word. These are two top restaurants run by two brothers, each of them great guys and outstanding in their fields, that draw you in and make you feel part of the family. At least they did to me.

Don Pedro, Don Luis, see you on Monday!

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