Located within the elegant palatial building of the 5-star Hotel Urso & Spa in Madrid, one finds the stylish, yet informal Media Ración, a thoroughly modern restaurant created under the direction of chef Fernando Cuenllas, celebrating the traditional flavours of Spain, served as classic sharing plate portions, writes Andrew Forbes.
Enjoying tapas and sharing dishes is a wonderful way to enjoy the spirit and culture of Madrid, so I was excited to try this new restaurant, named after a typical portion size of food, as offered in restaurants and bars across Spain.
Although called ‘half portion’, (Media Ración), don’t expect anything to be done by half-measures here; in my experience, the kitchen had very exacting standards for the small bites and sharing dishes; and the team was professional and very friendly.
...tapas and sharing dishes capture the spirit and culture of Madrid
Media Ración is found in the centre of the Spanish capital, close to many popular districts; west of the classy Salamanca district, a little north of Justicia – well positioned for enjoying Chamberí, Tribunal and Chueca neighbourhoods.
Don’t be put off by its hotel setting – this restaurant has its own entrance and has a unique look and feel; it’s not what you might expect from a hotel restaurant and bar. The hotel (you can read our profile of Hotel Urso & Spa here) is well-positioned to enjoy the best of the city, and is a convenient location to enjoy some Madrid cuisine.
Media Ración offers a broad menu of classic Spanish plates for sharing – as full plate ‘raciónes’ or half plate ‘media raciónes’, and tapa-style small bites. Cuenllas is very part of Madrid’s culinary scene, with the popular Cuenllas gourmet store and bar, an institution in the city since 1939.
The ambiance is relaxed and friendly…
The menu is designed to allow you to order a selection of bites, toasts, meat, fish and vegetarian dishes and share them; a chance to sample classic and new recipes, either at the bar with a drink or at the elegant, immaculately presented tables – simple yet smart, with crisp white linen and shining silverware.
The ambiance is relaxed and friendly – the team was welcoming and animated when we arrived. Our waiter, Ona was particularly knowledgeable about the menu and very accommodating of my dining guest who needed to avoid gluten. (Ona brought special gluten-free bread, warm from the kitchen and advised on the best dishes to order – very helpful).
Time for Wine
Amanda our wine expert was equally professional. We started the meal with some wine from Jerez, a fino and a manzanilla sherry and then went on to wine by the glass. The wine list focuses on some smaller producers in Spain, and there are a few options for wine by the glass, so you can try different varieties with the varied dishes. I tried the Clos Lojen red, made with the lesser known grape of Bobal; and El Castro de Valtuille made from the mencia grape; as well as a tasty white from Tenerife – it was such a pleasure to have a knowledgeable wine waiter introducing me to new Spanish wines.
…wine list focuses on some smaller producers in Spain
Starting with some classic bites, I order the Ensaladilla Rusa, a typically tapa in Spain and here, it’s taken to a gastronomic level, presented in a sophisticated style.
The smoked salmon with blinis is an international favourite and here beautifully presented and well-seasoned.
Patatas bravas; spicy potatoes are a popular Madrid dish and something that should defiantly be included in the selection of first plates.
Many of the dishes are from the across the country and its shores – and expect some great fish, including tasty anchovies.
The ‘raya escabechada’; pickled skate was bursting with flavour; as was the prawn tartar.
The notion of sharing plates is so much fun, and really captures the Spanish way of life – sociable, fun and relaxed. It’s a dynamic way to eat, and enjoy an evening together as well as get to know some classic recipes from Spain.
For a capital city, the prices are excellent value – from 6 euros for a first plate like the potatoes; to 24 euros for beef tenderloin.
The restaurant has a cool, urban style combining traditional elegant details such as linen table cloths, dark leather seating and banquettes with white trim, with striking contemporary elements such as the pillars covered in bold monochrome signage. The bar has an elegant city vibe.
Next time you head to Madrid, check out this new restaurant – it has been embraced by locals and visitors alike and looks set to be a successful part of the capital’s gastronomic and social scene.
Media Ración (Hotel Urso), Beneficencia, 15, 28010—Madrid
Tel: +34 914 475 111