I’ve started jokingly referring to Gran Via as my Madrid version of the River Thames. Should you know London, you’ll know that when it comes to being a dweller of the affectionately nicknamed ‘smog’, you very much fall either the North or South camp thanks to the watery divide; and to this end I feel that the same can be said for Madders. If you’re Fuencarral side of Gran Via you tend to spend your free time hot footing it around the streets of Malasaña and Chueca. Whereas if you veer down towards Sol, you can usually be found whiling away time between La Latina and Lavapiés. Either way, had I not crossed the ‘symbolic’ gulf provided by our very own Oxford Street equivalent, I may never have found El Imparcial.
Inconspicuous and almost completely nondescript from the exterior, El Imparcial is quite the find upon entering. On the right hand side your greeted by a pocket-sized bar where you can grab a coffee or a cana. However, make your way up the impressively sized staircases and you enter into an Aladdin’s Cave of all round prettiness. I’m loathe to bandy around this term liberally, but the high ceilings and beautifully restored décor can almost be described as ‘breath taking’ – close one eye and squint with the other and it does have a touch of the old Palace De Versailles about it.
Part concept store, part restaurant, El Imparcial straddles a line where you literally want everything that you see. Cocktails, they’ve got them in spades. Food, well there are morsels so delicious that it wouldn’t be uncommon to not want to share your starter *apologies to my fam as I inhaled the bao buns without as much as a thought of ‘did you want to try one?!’
Last but not least are the Wallpaper magazine worthy purchases waiting to adorn your casa. El Imparcial stocks a carefully (and I’d hazard a guess, lovingly) curated range of stationary, magazines and books – apt really considering the building once housed a newspaper.
Food wise they offer a complete smorgasbord of delights. We wolfed down (amongst other treats) Roasted black cod with miso edamame beans, oxtail croquettes and a lip smackingly good buttifara pizza with scamorza. Our lunch lasted for hours, dinner…even longer. It really is one of those places that seems to draw you in and make you not want to leave (or maybe after the array of cocktails placing one foot in front of other could’ve been tricky and partly to blame for the desire not to budge).
Did I mention just how pretty it is? *and that’s just the staff. Book well ahead or find yourself lingering outside, nose pressed against the glass wanting to get in.