Is it embarrassing to admit that we didn’t have tapas even once during our stay in Madrid? To be fair, we were feeling a bit flat during our stay and not up to staying out for evening tapas, the reason for which became evident just a few days later when we got to Lisbon and both promptly got sick. This meant that we searched out restaurants and cafes that could offer us positive daytime dining experiences – the best of which was Martina Cocina located just south of the La Latina area.
We walked past Martina Cocina on a Saturday, and were drawn in for lunch by the hustle and bustle inside, and the sounds of locals chattering away as they caught up with friends and family. Most people were at the cafe for brunch rather than lunch, so the tables slowly emptied as we ate our meal.
One of the things I loved about Martina Cocina was their fantastic range of teas – hard to find in our travels as most cafes seem to concentrate their energies and efforts on coffee rather than tea! Wanting to keep it simple, I asked the waitress for a ‘green tea’, and she quickly delivered this little tea service to our table, with a fragrant and crisp jasmine tea inside. I particularly liked the little touch of having a speculoos biscuit on the side!
From what I could tell from neighbouring diners, it looked as though Martina Cocina was famous for their “Sabados Brunch” (Saturday Brunch), and so we decided to order that as well. For only $12 Euro, you get to taste-test six different dishes: Croissant con jamon y queso (ham and cheese croissant), Yoghurt con fruitas y cereales (yoghurt with fruit and cereal), Tosta con huevo, espinaca y bacon (toast with egg, spinach and bacon), Quiche, Ensalada (salad) and Tarta. Included in the price is a coffee or tea (I chose an iced tea for an extra charge), and a small glass of orange juice as well.
Despite the relatively simplicity of the first course of the brunch, everything was just that little bit off. The egg on the toast was a flat omelette, rather than a fried or poached egg which would have worked better, and the little slice of bacon wasn’t crisp. The Greek yoghurt topped with canned fruit and Cornflakes was a far cry from yoghurt & natural muesli. The croissant hadn’t been toasted, so the cold cheese wasn’t melted as it really should have.
The second course of the Sabados Brunch was much the same as well. The flavour of the cheesecake with raspberry compote was a highlight, but the texture was a bit grainy. The salad was a bit boring – small slices of shrivelled roast vegetables with cos lettuce really didn’t do that much for me. The tart was unforgettable, with an overdone crust. Overall, the Saturday brunch was a bit disappointing!
Luckily, that wasn’t all we ordered! Travelling as a couple means that you get to order just that little bit more and try a wider variety of dishes, so we ordered the Empanadas which were on the menu and seemed very popular with locals who came in to buy them to take-away.
These empanadas (four varieties – chicken, ham and cheese, 4 cheese and onion, ‘meat’) were definitely the highlight of the meal with their super crispy pastry shells. My favourite was the chicken empanada which had a great depth of rich savoury flavour, and K enjoyed the gooey soft 4 cheese and onion empanada.
Despite their advertisement of their “Sabados Brunch” special, the highlight of Martina Cocina is definitely their variety of empanadas. I would definitely recommend going in for the empanadas as a take-away special, but I wouldn’t bother staying much longer than that for a ‘proper’ sit-down meal!
Martina Cocina is located at 11 Plaza Cascorro, Madrid.