Head away from the sparkling lights of central Madrid and all the other famous barrios, and what you might find will surely surprise, wow and inspire you. This time we will talk about a quiet residential neighbourhood easily identifiable by its closest metro station: Sainz de Baranda. Sainz de Baranza is located on the outer fringes of the barrios circling El Parque del Buen Retiro. On a normal day, the question would be why or why would I take myself there? But this time, let you be told about 90 Grados, the hip and happening restaurant-bar setting Madrid aflame. In a few words, one has described 90 Grados as reinvented Spanish food with a touch of extraordinary. “Far-fetched,” I hear you say. Sit back and read why we have reached this conclusion after our second visit to 90 Grados.
Many are the wonders of 90 Grados. The crowning jewel, however, is that they have the best cocktail in Spain and the barmen who invented it works there. Of this fact, we are thereby witnesses. Any prior doubts regarding the lure of this place are quickly laid to rest once Jamal Joel concocts his famed Passion Night cocktail for you. This cocktail boasts Grey Goose vodka, passion fruit, cinnamon, white chocolate and….other ingredients that you just have to try. As you sip this suave cocktail, the house DJ will have you bopping your head and tapping your toes to smooth house and lounge music. Instantly, the mood created becomes reminiscent of an after work soirée in The City of London. The beauty in all this is the welcoming environment created by 90 Grados. Once you are inside, you feel no sense of urgency. Something just beckons you stay longer and longer. Jamal at the cocktail bar is ever ready to sign, seal and deliver anything at your beckoning – sex on the beach, mojito, pina colada, strawberry daiquiri, you name it – after all, he is the National Champion in cocktail making.
Away from the cocktail bar, things get more exciting when Hector Sanchez, the head chef at 90 Grados, performs a few of his gastronomic wonders. Books could be written about the varied menu that shows off the results of what happened when traditional Spanish cuisine met modern cuisine. As a rule of thumb, it is sometimes a must to try croquetas in a restaurant, but sometimes, how exciting can these be? Hector settled this issue by creating a selection of croquetas outside the norm. On his croqueta offering, you find squid with squid ink croquetas and slow cooked shredded beef croquetas. These shredded beef croquetas were the ones that had us incessantly wowing as we ate them. Hector also decided to offer a super sized croqueton of jamon that weighs 300g. You can only try it to understand it. If bottomless stomachs existed, Hector’s menu is one of those that entices enough to want to be devoured in one sitting. In all this, two sections of this varied menu stand out – the fish selections and the meat sections. The piece de resistance from the meat menu is the 1kg Toma Hawk steak. But, on the day MuchBites visited, we opted to precede it with grilled hook squid served with squid ink tempura. Beautiful!
In all fairness, the reason for visiting 90 Grados in the first place had been to try the afore mentioned Toma Hawk steak. All this other awesomeness happened to also form part of 90 Grados and we had not anticipated it. By the time we finally got to the Toma Hawk, all had been settled and 90 Grados had surely made the MuchBites list. Nonetheless, steak matters had to settled. In jaw dropping fashion, our waiter for the evening, Daniel, brought a tall bar table and stationed it beside our table. This was swiftly followed by a waitress who placed the Toma Hawk on this bar table. In this instance, for the jaw dropping effect to be noteworthy, size mattered. The size of this Toma Hawk certainly took us by surprise. You never know how big a kilo of meat is until it is in front of you, sizzling, with juices trickling down it from all sides and adorned with chunks of sea salt. Thankfully, Hector has an inherent ability to work a steak. We had ordered it medium and medium it was. It was warm right to the core yet with the perfect tone of red and melt in your mouth soft. Due to the on point cooking technique of this steak, it was easy to eat and did not leave you with an over worked jaw. This will surely be one to repeat. We washed down the steak with a bottle of red wine; which really goes without say that this is a must.
We could spend another 5 or more paragraphs explaining in more details about the after dinner cocktails and the premium gin selections on offer and the desserts. Of course, this would be fun, but better yet, why not make a night out at 90 Grados and experience something out of the quotidian.