Pickles to get out of a crisis: the kitchen with tenacity inhabits Madrid's Taberna Verdejo

In eighth of EGB Marian Reguera I already knew that I wanted to be a cook, but, as she could not occupy one of the only 20 places that were in the 90s in the Higher School of Hospitality and Tourism from the Casa de Campo, he had to sign up for the degree of service. It was not until he finished this and, through an internal promotion, when he could finally study cooking.

Six years he was studying, combining all kinds of jobs, but he was always clear about his future restaurant. “I already knew what I wanted to do, and I'm doing what I wanted to do then ”, explains Reguera to Direct to the Palate.

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Today Verdejo Tavern - named for the famous white grape, if not for Marian's mother's last name - is an institution of Madrid gastronomy. Its equation is what distinguishes every good restaurant: honest cuisine, very friendly service, good wines and fair prices. And her story is that of a cook who was very clear about what she wanted to do with her life, although They didn't make it easy.

Homemade pickled mussels from Verdejo are the perfect appetizer.

After passing through numerous restaurants, Reguera fell to The olive, an establishment that, like so many others, collapsed with the outbreak of the 2008 crisis. The cook he spent half a year working without charge To end up in the street without a hard. And, with just 40 years old, there was no way to find work. Setting up your own restaurant proved to be the only way out.

Taberna Verdejo opened in 2012, perhaps the worst moment of the crisis, but with half of the restaurants closing their doors to Reguera an opportunity opened. “People were giving away the rents, I was disenchanted in the hospitality industry and I found a very cheap place, ”says the cook.

The restaurant, located in full Neighborhood of salamanca, It opened offering very tight prices for the area, with a menu of the day of 13 euros and a very small menu. It was an immediate success. Now there is no menu and it is all a bit more expensive, a natural evolution given the success of your kitchen. "We have not had to make any decision because as soon as we started working well everyone came to try our kitchen and the menu came out alone."

Salted fish are also worked. In this case, sea bass, salmon and sardine. Very good texture, although a little past salt.

The pickled kingdom

Taberna Verdejo soon became known for its fantastic pickles. Reguera knew the technique well, because his mother, also a professional cook, used it a lot at home, but perfected it during his time at Arce, next to the teacher Iñaki Camba.

Today, luckily, many more restaurants have been encouraged to prepare pickles, but when Taberna Verdejo opened people were more worried about making bad ceviches, And his offer was a success.

Soon the diners hung the restaurant's label “The best pickles in Madrid” and Reguera put on the batteries to offer a truly differentiated offer. In Taberna Verdejo, says the cook, practically everything is pickled: “In Arce only partridge and mackerel were made, here we have turned the tortilla and we make blond, stripe, rice ...”.

On our visit we were able to try some exquisite mussels (accompanied, as it should be, with french fries), monkfish and wild boar. All great.

Pickled wild boar with onion and celery cream. Of ten.

A faithful menu for each season

Although the pickles are good, We would do wrong to pigeonhole the restaurant. In Taberna Verdejo a seasonal product menu is served, with traditional elaborations, which hides many other secrets.

"Now I have the first white asparagus, the first pea, the Tudela artichokes that have just started ...", explains Reguera "I try to always be the order of the day."

The menu includes some medium-sized dishes such as cuttlefish and dogfish on Iberian broth waves boneless pig trotters, grilled, with old-fashioned mustard. Two delicious dishes. But there is always room for out of letter that Reguera, in a detail that many of his colleagues could learn, always offers accompanied by its price.

Obligatory to order the meatball of cazón and monkfish with Iberian broth.

On our visit we tried, for example, some garlic clams (correct) and a plate of seasonal vegetables with Borage, artichoke, Iberian jowl (perfect). We still have to return in winter to catch the hunting season, which wonders speak.

The offer is completed with some homemade desserts, correct, but not especially remarkable. The medium with which we accompanied them was better, which brings us to another of the great strengths of Taberna Verdejo.

Boneless, grilled with old-fashioned mustard. Tremendous.

Better to eat with Jerez

One of the most surprising things in this small restaurant is its very complete wine list, which includes many references from Jerez, of which Reguera is in love. Where do you put so many bottles?

“It's crazy for the little space I have”, recognizes the cook who, attentive, has also studied viticulture and oenology.

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Although Reguera continues to design the dishes, during the service he is his partner Miguel de la Cruz who takes care of the kitchen, so she has time to be hand in hand with customers, who offers a personalized service, which is greatly appreciated, especially if it helps you learn from wines.

“I like contact with people, speak clearly, with no openings, ”explains Reguera to Direct to the Palate. “I do it like this with everyone. If someone tells me 'bring me a good wine' I ask you 'what is a good wine?' How far can I go? ' The more we talk and the more we know about the person in front of us, the less we screw up. ”

I could not agree more.

What to ask for: It is obligatory to try the pickles, the handyman and the meatball of cazón and sepia. It is a great place to be advised about wine: the menu hides pleasant surprises.

Practical data
Where: Espartinas Street, 6 (Madrid)
Half price: Around 50/60 euros.
Reservations: 910 11 22 48
Closed Sunday and Tuesday.