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Yerbabuena Madrid restaurant review

Mr Flicking the Vs is developing something of a reputation as a food psychic. If we both order off the same menu, he'll end up picking something far tastier than me. If we're wondering what to cook for tea, he'll instantly know if it's a jacket potato and beans day, or if a vegan Wellington is called for.

Our first night in Madrid saw us wondering what to get for tea – it had been a long day enjoying the city, we'd been enjoying a few cold ones in the Retiro gardens, and now we were getting hungry.

We decided to go for a mooch and see what we saw. It was at this point Mr Flicking the Vs stumbled on Yerbabuena

Yerbabuena describes itself as high end vegetarian cooking, and has a lot of vegan dishes on the menu and many more than can be veganised, all clearly marked on the menu.

After my experience with Biocenter in Barcelona, I checked with the friendly waiter if the food marked as vegan really didn't have any milk, eggs etc in it and, bless him, he looked a little hurt and said no, no it was all definitely vegan.

Before we got cracking with the mains, we were given a little amuse bouche – two little pots of guacamole with a couple of tortilla chips and two little cups of pineapple and, I think, soy milk with a tortilla chip stuck in. Observe:

The guacamole and chips are clearly a good thing, the pineapple shot was a bit off-kilter – it was sweet, the tortilla was on the soggy side and the whole effect was like a tiny Pina Colada without any rum.

Things looked up with the mains – I went for something that sounded like pipperana (my bad for not writing down the name) and Mr Flicking the Vs went for a more pedestrian sounding arrangement of tofu and veggies. You guessed it – while mine was perfectly nice, his was amazing.

Mine was good , healthy fodder – black rice cooked with a nice subtle note of thyme, veggies, tofu (alas, unmarinated or otherwise interfered with), and a huge wodge of that lovely guacamole - all dotted around with a vibrant basil sense.

It was all good stuff, but a bit lacking in flavour and a victim of someone being a bit heavy-handed with the olive oil. That said, I was craving freshness that day - and that's exactly what this plate hand in abundance. 

But Mr Flicking the Vs' meal was an absolute wonder. Behold:

It was big pile up of tofu (again, alas, not overburdened with a marinade), veggies, fried potato and a mild sauce, all topped off with a big bird's nest of fried rice noodles.

It came with a side of Padron peppers - vegetal-tasting, sometimes hot, deliciously deep fried - that I had to restrain myself from stealing. There was a pot of smorzar (I think that's how you spell it), typically a Spanish soup of tomato, bread and olive oil, turned into a little sauce here. It was gentle foil to the amazingly smoky and flavour-packed chunky salsa next to it. It was beyond good. I'm slightly dribbling thinking about it now.

Yerbabuena's upward trajectory continued with dessert. By the time we were ready for pudding, it was knocking on 10pm and we were pretty much the only people left in the restaurant, so we decided to take a wander. But wander off without some cake in my bag? No chance.

The ever-helpful waiter walked me through all the vegan dessert options (happily there are a good few). I chose chocolate cake, which was brought back -- along with a couple of cups of lightly aniseedy tea --  with a generous slice of cake, topped with cream (soya cream, the waiter reassured me), a cherry and a mint leaf. 

It wasn't cheap at €8 (almost as much as the mains) but it was WONDERFUL. Thick, heavy, chocolately and swimming in icing. Mr Flicking the Vs tried some (yeah, I grudgingly gave him a tiny bite) and said "Wow, that's good". 

Here's a tiny look - it's encased in its plastic travelling case here:

It's an imperfect look at what perfection looks like, but there you go.

Yerbabuena didn't get everything right, but when it hit its stride, it was some of the best cooking I've had in a while.

3 Calle de Bordadores
Madrid, Spain
(+34) 915 48 08 11

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  1. Ha ha! I'm glad you asked if it was truly vegan! After all, your previous experience with the other restaurant - best to make sure! Glad to hear the meal just kept getting better with each course. :)


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