Okay, so one night you’re walking around Madrid “tapeando” , standing in bars, drinking and sampling small plates of food until you realize that you’d like a break from the crowds, and would rather sit down somewhere more quiet and be served. Then, you stumble upon Vinoteca Moratin.
Right in the heart of bustling Barrio de las Letras, hides this small and intimate restaurant. Even though its name: Vinoteca- wine cellar -evokes a fine wine list, its food is by no means compromised. Quite the contrary, for the menu is a true offering of the best local in-season produce as well as the finest meats and fish in the city. Yes, even though Madrid is landlocked, the freshest fish caught off the coasts of Spain is immediately shipped here, so wherever you eat, you’re bound to find a fresh catch.
Chef and owner Marcos Gil opened this small eatery in 2012 following his passion for “buen vino” and great food. Here you’ll find a long list of over forty white wines, from Albariños to Ruedas and Rieslings to over 50 different red ones from Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Jumilla. Also on the list, are some French offerings from Loire and Burgundy, as well as some Portuguese from Alentejo.
We were warmly welcomed by a waiter named Chema who sat us at a cozy table by the window. He offered us some wine to start with and we picked a bottle of Juan Gil from Jumilla in Murcia, a region that lately has gained a lot of attention for its fine crops. This particular one is made with the Monastrell grapes which gives it a smoky combination of violets and berries, full bodied yet smooth . For a moment, I just wanted to sit in the dim lit ambience and savor my glass slowly as I admired the beautiful and serene decor . Old candle lit wooden tables surrounded by soothing earth toned walls add comfort and warmth to this lovely bistro. The attention to detail was evident, even in the acoustics where no matter how busy it was, it was never too loud. I was ready for another glass of wine and a look at the menu.
A simple “carta” offering the best in season: Puerros con romesco. A generous appetizer of six mouth watering braised leeks served with tangy Romesco sauce made with almonds, hazelnuts and red peppers. Absolutely delicious!
For my entrée, I had to have the pulpo de Santoña con aceite de pimentón y cilantro sobre parmentier de patata, small slices of the most tender octopus, seasoned with smoked paprika from Béjar and coriander, nestled over fluffy mashed potatoes. I could have easily ordered seconds but decided to take over my brother’s merluza al cava en papillote instead: hake steamed in Spanish sparkling wine, far too tempting! He wasn’t happy but he knew it was part of my job and begrudgingly obliged. Moist, flaky and “en su punto”. Another great example of what Spaniards can do with this delicate white fish.
For dessert the suggestions are changed daily and the options are few. We split the tarta de manzana, an individual tart made with golden delicious apples garnished with a dollop of fresh Greek yogurt. As we dug into this decadent yet healthy dessert, we were offered a glass of Dow’s 10 year old tawny Port wine, a sweet mellow touch to the end of a delectable meal. The whole dining experience was almost spa-like, so relaxing I didn’t want to leave. Can’t wait to go back!
Price range between 7 and 17 euros.
Calle Moratín 36
Tel. 911 276 085
Tel. 695 194 555
Open every day except Sunday evenings and Monday