on January 25, 2006
Founded in 1725, it’s said to be the world’s oldest restaurant. We simply had to try it.We came around 7:30pm and it was still cerrado (closed). I forgot that Madrillenos ate meals later than usual. With 30 minutes to spare, we just rounded novelty shops nearby. By the time we agreed on a souvenir plate we liked, it was almost 8pm, just in time.Outside, Botin looks exactly as it was reputed to be, old and maybe a bit weary. The cheery host (owner?) opened the doors, and together with several attendants behind him, we were welcomed inside. Pictures and artifacts were scattered throughout the place, seemingly as testament to the history witnessed by the establishment. The restaurant spanned a few floors, but we opted to stay downstairs because of our baby’s stroller.Our helpful attendant quickly produced a baby chair and coloring materials to keep her occupied while we perused the menu. I decided on the house menu, which included a soup, main course, and dessert.I don’t remember what the soup was called. If there’s such a thing as cream of pork, this would probably be it. It looked chunky, with an egg atop it, slowly being cooked in the still-sizzling soup. Surprisingly, the texture was very smooth and creamy, even with the chunks. It looked insanely fatty and unhealthy but was oh so yummy. Next came their house specialty--roasted suckling pig. The idea of enjoying slaughtered piglets was making me a bit uncomfortable, but the feeling slowly dissipated when I saw how wonderful it smelled and looked. By the end of my first bite, I had completely forgotten all my guilt feelings. Incredible! The pork was so tender and juicy that it almost melts in the mouth. It had a different taste to it, creamy, almost milky, well, probably because it was a suckling pig. And the skin was roasted to perfection: thin, crunchy, and breaking neatly with the knife. The serving portions were more than enough, and although I wanted to savor every lovely morsel, I was (alas!) already too full, even with still about a fourth of the serving left on my plate. By the way, this was served with some roast potatoes, very nice but completely overshadowed by the roast pig.Last but not least was ice cream--vanilla ice cream enveloped in dark cocoa sauce. They’ve probably had some requests for more sauce because they certainly served a lot more than required for the scoops, and I slurped it to the last drop.People really started pouring in around 9pm, and I was glad we came early since we didn’t have any reservations. And although Botin is more of a touristy restaurant, I didn’t find much difference with other restaurants, other than the fact that the attendants were more service-oriented. Our bill totaled to about 40 euros per person, and every cent was definitely worth the excellent dining experience.
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