Spanish restaurants can be disappointing, despite having some of the best ingredients to work with. But today we were certainly not disappointed with our experience at Peregrino (the Pilgrim).
The meal started with a complimentary appetizer. Today it was a small bowl of a kind of beef stew with a few potatoes. I know it does not sound like an appetizer, but it worked. It was excellently and uniquely spiced. It came with some very good bread with a bit of olive oil sprinkled on. Some Spanish bread tastes stale no matter how fresh it is, and is very dry as if they use no oil, and there is little or no salt to boot. This was nearly as good as the best French baguette.
The offerings here are quite ambitious, especially for such a small place. For today’s specials (menu of the day) we could choose between a soup from Gallegos or a mixed vegetable plate for the first course, and between a beef joint with fried potato slices (not french fries) and a selection small fried fish for the second. (Note- Gallegos refers to the region of Galicia, which is a variation on Gaul, the Roman word for Celtic). The soup had greens in broth, and tasted like the collard green soup we’ve had in a Cuban restaurant in Tampa. My veggies were wok-cooked but tasted like a ratatouille. We enjoyed both ‘primeros platos’ a lot. The portions were ample.
We shared the stew and the fried fish, some of which looked like sardines. But don’t think of canned sardines. These are much bigger and generally milder. They were breaded lightly and deep fried. They must have used very hot oil as they were not too oily. Though not as small as canned sardines generally are, they are still a bit of a challenge to eat. They were not de-boned and the small spine was nonetheless to big to eat. They were kind of fun if you like that sort of thing, like eating crawfish. The meat was braised and tender. with a delicious light sauce. The side potatoes were well cooked.
The menu comes with a really good house wine, their own blend of 3 tempranillos. I think this grape is only or mostly grown in Spain. Nice body, good fruit. It went well with everything.
I was full before it, but the menu included dessert. They make a bunch of them here but the menu includes a choice of an almond cake, which is very Spanish, and a brownie with peanuts, which isn’t- in fact I’ve never heard of it before. Both were fabulous. The almond cake was moist and almondy enough and came with a (briefly) flaming sauce. The brownie was dense and chocolatey but I could not taste the peanuts. They were finely chopped.
For 2.45 euros, you get a delicious Segafreddo (our favorite, an Italian brand) coffee and after dinner drink. We got an alcoholic one called “Yerbas” (herbs) and another made of raspberries, but no seeds and no alcohol. I liked both. The former was a bit strong for Peg.
The service was very good. The waitress (the daughter who was filling in for the waiter who was off sick) and the mom, then later the dad, all were right on top of things. They talked to us, saw to it everything was as it should be, and said a friendly hello and goodbye.
All of this came to 15 euros each. We’ll take friends there and probably go on our own as well – it’s only four blocks from our apartment, very close to the supermarket we use.