The cozy downstairs dining room, located at 14 Juan de Mena Street near Retiro Park, was already a buzz of local patrons when we entered the restaurant at 9:30 on a Saturday evening. The low ceilinged brick-walled room is decorated in a cinematic theme with clapperboards on the wall from the films of Luis Bruñuel, a Spanish avant-garde surrealist filmmaker. The restaurant is named after one of his films.
Viridiana prides itself on serving simple, well-executed preparations of quality ingredients. As such they supplement the rather limited menu with a selection of daily specials based on seasonal ingredients. This attention to quality was evident in the dishes we tasted, starting with the house appetizer – a fresh tomato soup with orange and mackerel served with a side of a chorizo on a blini. For the first course we split the Andalusian salad – an elegant plating of orange slices, black olives, red onion, and bitter winter greens. Slivers of candied orange peel highlight the contrast of bitter and sweet.
Second courses included river squid stuffed with the chopped tentacles, covered in a rich and briny squid ink sauce and served with sautéed vegetables and rice, a version of the classic chipirones en su tinta.
The hake, barely grilled, seasoned with garlic and chili pepper and finished with a drizzle of olive oil was accompanied by a medley of grilled summer vegetables.
While the food does live up to the restaurant’s reputation, the crazy menu pricing does leave one wondering. Starters are priced at 27-31€ while fish mains are priced at around 33€. The homey plate of chipirones and rice, a generally inexpensive dish, was priced at an outrageous 35€. Desserts 15€.