Without doubt, we are a generation who want it all and we want it now. So if we’re pretty much always used to getting our own way, particularly when it comes not only to dining out but also to dining in (Hello Deliveroo you absolute game changer), then what is it these days that truly elevates a dining experience from mediocre to marvellous? Well in my humble opinion, it’s the service. The extra Je Ne Sais Quoi that turns a ‘meh it wasn’t bad’, to a ‘sign me up I want a loyalty card’ kind of vibe.
Good food will always be good food, but the story and the service at Elemental Bistro is the stuff that money can rarely buy. Not many 20-somethings these days know what they want to do when they ‘grow up.’ Us millennials have risen up through the ranks being told that we don’t have to stay loyal to a company and await retirement. We can chase our dreams and fulfil no end of goals. The issue being, where do you start?
Someone who faced that quandary head on and has lived to tell the tale is Sergio, the 25-year-old owner of the newly opened Elemental Bistro who spent years living in Paris and has brought some undeniable Gallic charm to the streets of Malasaña. 25 years old, I hear you gasp. Yes. I couldn’t quite believe it (but pardon the French related pun) I expect him to become quite the tour de force when it comes to gastronomy on this side of Gran Via.
Located on Calle Corredera Baja de San Pablo, Elemental is in prime position to capitalise on the hoards of hipsters that descend on this street daily. However, Elemental is far from being the only option for a foodie in that neck of the woods. So Sergio’s menu (which is of a French-Spanish fusion disposition) is instantaneously eye catching in an area where menus are becoming more than a little generic in style.
It’s not just the menu that is set to carve out a niche either. The décor is stripped back yet charming in equal measure. The walls are simplistic and white, with little nods to Parisian style through the flowers adorning the tables, to the antique typewriter that was perched atop a nearby table.
The owner Sergio who, might I add, won me over within minutes (largely due to his outfit and the soft sounds of the La La Land soundtrack playing in the background – a surefire winner for me) couldn’t be more hands on in his approach as a restaurateur. His knowledge about wine was second to none.
It’s worth noting at this point that the wine menu (along with all other drinks) were housed in old camera roll ‘holders’ for want of a better word. And as I’ve dined out about as many times as the late Hugh Hefner bagged himself a blonde, I can attest that I’ve never seen such a quirky and imaginative way to liven up a wine list.
The food was as downright tasty as anything I’ve sampled in Spain or fancied in France. The goat cheese and pumpkin croquetas were dangerously moreish. The duck salad had even a self-confessed carnivore eating her greens and the Galician short rib, well that really requires no explanation.
Let it be told that I am very much in the camp of ‘I’m a starter person’ rather than being partial to a pud, but Elemental may have just won the award for the best desert ever – I may drop round a certificate and everything. It consisted of a chocolate fondant, violet ice cream and decorated with crystalized parma violet type sweets. It was almost too pretty to eat and the plate that it was served on was very nearly swiped by this vintage loving lady.
There’s no shortage of fabulous places to eat in Madrid. Having said that, there’s far fewer that I don’t as much suggest that you should visit, but I positively implore you to frequent. Kudos to Sergio for marrying not just two nations (but two cuisines) and as a result, he brings the panache of Paris to the people of Madrid.