Battle of the Brunches: Part I

Eating out & Madrid Restaurants

by Faye Davies

Café Oliver brunchSince the demise of the much-loved Bluefish a couple of years ago, the word ‘brunch’ in Madrid has become synonymous with mounting gloom. Take Café Oliver, for instance. Michelin-starred, and charging 24€ for their offering, it would be natural to expect from them something in the region of culinary delight.

Forget it. I’ve been twice. My first visit inspired only vague disappointment: small portions, stinginess with re-fills, average food, and just-about adequate service. My second visit, more recently, provoked outright fury. After an underestimated (on their part) wait of forty minutes, it took a further ten for them just to take our order.

A bad start to a soul-draining experience. For want of space, I’ll be sparing with the details. Suffice to say I’ve had better hamburgers from street stalls, better pancakes from economy supermarkets, and better service in government buildings. The fruit juice had run out; the waiter brought the dregs of someone else’s honey instead of my maple syrup; the coffee arrived lukewarm… You get the picture.

Hungry, angry and tired, I would have walked out without paying had my companion not had more compassion and class. My only consolation is I do know one wonderful brunch establishment, which I’ll be writing about in the very near future. Watch this space – and feel free to write in with your own recommendations.


Comment from Putative father
Date: March 31, 2008, 12:45 pm

Excellent. Am particularly impressed by the correct punctuation. So the money wasn’t all wasted.

But lack of class?? How can this be, with your parentage? Not to mention expensive education.

May I suggest you don’t give away the name of the place you value highly. This may sound churlish but that’s the way I am. And you might live to regret your altruism. One usually does.

Just kidding.

Comment from Richardksa
Date: March 31, 2008, 2:21 pm

Rushed for time yesterday I popped into “Fast Good” as I had read a review of their burgers. Strange name, but excellent food. It lived up to it’s name. This was in the Calle de Tetuan near the rear entrance of El Cortes Ingles at Sol. Definately not your average burger bar!!!!!

Comment from Richardksa
Date: March 31, 2008, 2:26 pm

Oh! They have a website:

Comment from marina
Date: March 31, 2008, 4:56 pm

Richard, did you know that Ferran Adriá - the cook- is involved in the Fast and Good project???

I haven’t tried it out yet, but sounds interesting.


Comment from Richardksa
Date: March 31, 2008, 5:26 pm

I didn’t know who he was. But now I do (
In the Wiki article he says he like unexpected contrasts of flavour. That was certainly true of the relish/ensalada part of the burger. There was quite a strong flavour of what I thought was chickory but might have been taragon.
The chain is owned by nH Hotels. Looking at their website I think I will try some more from their menu.

Comment from ValenciaSon
Date: April 1, 2008, 12:10 am

Wow, this Fernan guys sounds impressive. I just read the wikipedia write up. Which dish did you have, Richard?

Comment from Richardksa
Date: April 1, 2008, 11:03 am

I was hungry and in a hurry, so I just had the “Good” Hamburger. No fries. It was delicious. And unlike other places, each table had collection of made up sauces: Mustard, Ketchup, English “Brown Sauce” (It actually was HP!) and relish. The service was friendly and reasonably fast, given that my burger was cooked to order AND they asked me how well cooked I would like it. A huge burger that DID look like the one in the photo, for a change, (Pase Falling Down with Michael Douglas!), and a decent coffee, all for 7 euros.