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Doña Antonia


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Kimmo is a new ballsy chef in town. I just met him but I already know he is great cook and a greater person.

You could'nt come up with his background even if you tried: Finnish by origin, he spent a stretch of time in Central America, cooked his way through some of the best kitchens in Berkley CA, he married a lovely New Hampshire girl, with whom he and has now landed straight into the brutal heart of Madrid.

And we do know how brutal Madrid can be.

His (and his patron's) is one of the bravest attempts to morph a traditional spanish tapas bar into a locally sourced menu based on top notch seasonal products that are treated with a lively and fresh approach definitley infused by the Berkley style, using combinations and condiments that veer away from the traditional spanish tastes: pretty much keep the base products that the local clients are accustomed to but take it up a notch.

It is brave in that the restaurant is relying on the clients recognition of this talent and effort without the establishment making any real noise over it. The kitchen will shine through appears to be Kimmo's and the general mood here. This is not to say that the staff dont match the level of the food, as there is a sense that, subdued and modest as the place may be, there is a down to earthness and harmonious feeling that gives an impression that this operation is well oiled despite its youth.

Just last night as highlights we enjoyed a delicious and intense spicy squid tomato bruschetta, a hearty pot of mussels cooked with garbanzo beans and chorizo, sweet fresh cod on a bed of spinach in a grapefruit beurre blanc sauce (incredibly good), beautiful sliced beef with cabbage and crumbled blue cheese accompanied by roasted sliced potatoes (with the skin kept on, you would think a simple detail but actually quite a rare treat in Spain). Talk about croquetas to Kimmo and he cringes...he didnt manage to get rid of them on the menu, but if you order them (accompanied by a sweet tomato dipping sauce) and bite into one you'll realise that he has reengineered them away from the classic jamon and bechamel into something quite more special.

The desserts are few but very well executed. Apparently the chocolate cake is famous although I decline towards the creamy flan with biscuit base. Simple yet perfect.

He's kept many of the dishes as starter or tapas, which means that, together with Doña Antonia's cosy but informal setting, you can enjoy tasting a greater variety of them.

If you go there and check it out, you will most likely see Kimmo at some point, as he hits the dining area from time to time to see the reactions the clients are having to his bold new way of cooking.

I'm hoping he'll get those reactions he is loooking for.

Doña Antonia

Calle de Huertas 4

TF: 91 1568208

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Went here yesterday night after reading Pablo's praises, and must say that I'm not that enthusiastic about this place.

We went early to try some tapas before the cinema (The weak and boring Inglorious Bastards, if you ask), the location is great, in the middle of one of the most crowded bar areas of Madrid. Wine by the glass was just two anonymous Rioja and a Ribera and after asking for their names we chose a caipirinha, also nothing to write home about, and order a few dishes: Mussels with chick peas and chorizo was a surprisingly good combination but sadly the execution was poor with some of the mussels closed and the sauce lacking of any depth, same as the Patatas Doña with fried onion and two (over)fried eggs. Last dish, pork ribs in tomato sauce was the best of the night, ordered half a portion whch was a good piece of meat, tender and perfectly cooked with a great tomato sauce and roasted potatoes. I wish the former dishes were as good as the latter.

All this was 40€ for two which is a good price and the service was friendly and nice but seemed exhausted after their first brunch that they will be serving from now on every Saturday and Sunday.

If looking for this style of gastro-bar I rather go to La Cantamora or Arzabal, two of the best bars opened last year, maybe bit more upscale than this, but much more interesting from a gastronomic (and wine friendly) point of view.

Edited by Rogelio (log)
Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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I would also step La Cantamora and Arzabal into two different categories, taking into account their ambition in the offer. Arzabal is indeed a very good place, but has chosen simpler dishes -croquettes, sirloin steak, "callos"- than La Cantamora. Also have some problemas at peak hours -irregular service and cooking-, perhaps due to the great success they have aimed -specially remarkable, they opened a few months ago-; the place is always full with people waiting.

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