Javi Estevez started his restaurant in 2015 and at 35 received his first Michelin star in 2019. What makes his restaurant exceptional is that he did it championing the nose to tail approach he feels represents traditional Spanish cooking and really highlights offal cooking as the star of the menu. These types of dishes often find their way onto Michelin level restaurant menus but this might be the only one in the world to do so exclusively.
We were only in Madrid for a few days and only found this place after we arrived. Reservations are hard to come by but we managed to find a shared table seat for lunch, 2 hours before our train left for Seville. This left an hour and a half for the full tasting menu. I was skeptical of the timeline but was assured it would be enough time. But unfortunately we had to skip out near the end just before the cheese and desert courses. Even so, I would not have changed a thing. This meal was exceptional and really brought a new dimension to these ingredients that I have been championing for a long time.
Both sophisticated and firmly rooted in classic preparations, playful and at times a bit challenging, I loved the experience I had at La Tasqueria de Javi Estevez. The atmosphere was intimate, the service was passionate and knowledgeable, and every course was outstanding.
You certainly get what you were promised. Tongue, trotters, tripe but with an equal amount of truffle and foie gras. It wasn’t just interesting, it was delicious. And beautiful. Being handled delicately to coax out the potential of each of these ingredients that were traditionally the left overs, the parts you had to eat because you didn’t have a choice, but now beloved staples of traditional cuisine around the world. And Chef Estevez isn’t going to let you get away without getting your hands dirty. I relished the idea of being served a whole roasted suckling pig head but then you have to reach into it’s mouth and rip it’s face apart, pry out the tongue and dig into the eyeballs. It’s visceral. It has cute little teeth and feels a bit like you’re dismembering Babe after losing the sheep herding competition. But at the same time, delicious, fatty, porky goodness. It’s good to be challenged with my own limitations. And to have a more intimate relationship with the food that I typically love. If it’s any comfort, these bits are usually wasted and discarded. To me, I’ve always felt that does a disservice to the sacredness of the animal. The sacrifice of life should never be taken lightly and every product of that sacrifice should be treasured and honored with attention and respect. And Chef Estevez has certainly achieved that here. I am happy he has been rewarded for his efforts.
I’m a believer in the details. It’s the small things that add up to the full experience. And here we get a nice balance between practicality, texture, color, locality, and eclecticism. Everything was well connected, made me feel at home, and accentuated the courses well. Each course had a different approach and broke you out of the standard white table cloth meal rut.
The space itself was very intimate. Broken up into half private tables and half shared hightop spaces. The kitchen is quite small and open with only a few people assembling. The service is very personal with detailed explanations. And there aren’t many seats, so it’s essential to book ahead. I felt very comfortable here.