By Trevor Fox
November 15, 2008
After the pre-Pesach cemetery visit on Sunday morning we had booked a table for lunch at the new kosher restaurant, Naomi Grill, under the supervision of the Madrid rabbinate. Kosher restaurants in Madrid are like buses. You wait 500 years and then 2 come along at once. La Escudilla opened in December 2002 in Santissima Trinidad ( most Holy Trinity Street ), round the corner from the main synagogue and run by the son of Elias el carnicero ( the butcher ), Naomi opened in December 2004. Prior to that Madrid had been a kosher culinary backwater.
La Escudilla does a nice range of pinchitos or kebabs. The name 'escudilla' refers to a shoulder of lamb. Naomi Grill is in a quiet side street at the end of Sor Angela de la Cruz between Plaza Cuzco and Juan Bravo Murillo street, close to the Tetuan metro station ( line 1 ) and to the Melia Castilla and Eurobuilding hotels. The owner ( whose name I didn’t ask ) is Italian but apparently had spent some time in Venezuela, so much so that he knew my wife’s aunt in Caracas. The restaurant has more covers than La Escudilla and is pleasantly furnished with the walls covered in a light wood veneer.
The menu is essentially Moroccan with the usual tagine and couscous dishes. There is a chicken couscous and a couscous royal with meat, chicken and merguez thrown in ( more appropriate for a cold winter’s day in Madrid ). There is lamb mechoui, roasted lamb which in times past used to be eaten with your fingers, but where you have a whole group of people sitting round a mechoui eating it with their fingers it all tends to get rather unhygienic. There are also the usual grills and a selection of chicken, lamb or beef pinchitos ( kebabs ) and a tagine of pescado sefardita, a fish stew much favoured by Jews living in the north of Morocco. A chicken paella dish also features on the menu.
The girls ( my wife and a cousin ) ordered a mixed grill and salad between them. Although this consisted of 2 grilled kebabs, 2 merguez and 2 keftas ( minced lamb ) this was hardly the largest mixed grill I had seen. The girls thought that the salad was OK. I had the filet mignon with foie gras. The filet mignon was medium and was a nice piece of meat with a smattering of decoration on top, sitting on a bed of green beans ( judias verdes ) and small button potatoes. A substantial dish, good portion size and worth the price at 28 Euros.
For dessert we had a freshly made hojaldre, rolled filo pastry dusted with sugar and served with a strawberry coulis. Mint tea was served in small Moroccan tea glasses together with a drop or two of rose water.
The bill weighed in at 74 Euros with soft drinks only. Not cheap but about average for a decent kosher restaurant.