In a picturesque intersection of streets lined with balcony-festooned residences and the small exquisite Iglesia de San Andres, we perused the chalkboards of daily menus and tapas, looking for the perfect meal to savor on our last day in Spain. Walking from one side of the city’s center to the other is a great way to work up an appetite and after three weeks traveling in Spain, we had become accustomed to the Spanish tradition of eating the largest meal of the day around 2pm. I longed for a lovely environment of natural light, authentic cuisine and no English on the menu. Then I saw it…the black flowing letters of La Chusquery that wrapped around the corner of a soft-yellow building adorned with balconies.
It sat pristine, back from the main street, just behind the Plaza San Andres and to the side of the small church. When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Angie, who it turns out is also from the Dominican Republic originally, where my mother is from. Eric and I chose to sit at the bar, which gave us the opportunity to enjoy conversation more with her and to get to know the rest of the restaurant team: Roberto and Angel, both from Spain, and who are two of the three chefs who recently opened La Chusquery – their dream restaurant.
As we were all becoming friends, we became acquainted with the food…and it was an amazing first impression! In addition to their regular menu, the latest daily specials, called sugerencias, were listed on large blackboards. Angie was friendly and helpful in answering our numerous questions about the dishes and how they are made (if you don’t speak Spanish, they are happy to help you in English and do have English versions of their menu available upon request). We finally decided on sharing two soups, their “Ku Bak con Chipiron y Setas” and a favorite dish from Northern Spain, the “Fabada Asturiana”. As we waited with our first round of wine and beer, freshly toasted slices of grain and white bread were provided for us. Spaniards love their bread and have it with every meal so we had been eating a lot of bread on this trip; that said, this bread was some of the best we had – it was deliciously warm and fresh.
Served first was our Ku Bak con Chipiron y Setas. It was a creative combination of squid and mushrooms in a savory light broth of fresh lemongrass, ginger, and garlic that was then poured over puffed rice. While it was not a traditional Spanish dish, we loved the Asian flair of the puffed rice and seasonings combined with the quality ingredients that are typical of Spanish cuisine. We imagine that the inspiration for this dish came from Roberto’s years living in Singapore, where he cooked and learned to speak English. Everything about the dish was superb – from the squid and mushrooms being fresh and tender, not overcooked and chewy, and the puffed rice being served in a separate dish so each of us could decide how much broth-to-rice ratio we wanted.
With our first course practically licked from our bowls, we took opportunity of the slight break before second course and ordered another round of drinks. Eric enjoyed another Mahou cerveza that they have on tap and I decided to get a taste for their wines, so I changed from the Monroy Garnacha that is made in Madrid-area, to the Sonsierra Crianza Tempranillo from the Rioja wine region. They were both delicious and went great with our meal.
The grand finale was our much-sought-after Fabada Asturiana. This hearty dish originates from Northern Spain, particularly the region of Asturias, which is where my Spanish family was from. I spent two months in the province’s capital, Oviedo, and enjoyed numerous meals of Fabada. Its unique white beans (fabes) are quite expensive, even in Spain, and in the US you can rarely find them in a store and have to order them online – we know because we’ve been wanting to cook it at home. This was Eric’s first time having it and I was certainly eager to savor it again. It could not have been a better experience – the Fabada was deliciously perfect! Steaming hot, its vibrant red broth carried the perfect hint of saffron and the large fabes were pleasantly tender. Each of our bowls had generous chunks of each type of the three different sausages that are the essential trio of this recipe: morscilla (Spanish blood sausage), chorizo, and tocino (bacon). Once again, our bowls were left shiny-clean by the time we were done, because we sopped up every bit with the last of our bread.
Before we left we got to speak more with our new friends and the restaurant team. The chef Angel had spent years cooking in a Michelin Star restaurant in Northern Spain, which I bet contributes to how their Fabada was so amazing and true to its origins. After saying our farewells and heading back out to explore more of Madrid, Eric and I both talked about how we would return that same evening if we didn’t already have plans. The way we discovered it felt serendipitous and as a closing meal to this time in Spain, La Chusquery truly was our restaurant dreams come true. We are looking forward to going back when next in Madrid!
Click here to visit the website of “La Chusquery” so you can enjoy this dream for yourself! *Keep in mind that as of the publication of this post, Google Maps shows the old bar that used to be where La Chusquery now exists.