Restaurante Viridiana, Madrid – Top Quality, but Overpriced?

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.

Madrid - Viridiana

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.

Madrid - Viridiana

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€.

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