We could not resist making a stopover at the Lavinia Madrid which is said to be the largest wine shop in the world. Located in the posh barrio of Salamanca, it is a good place to take a break in between shopping along Calle de Serrano, the Orchard Road of Madrid. The two storey store was indeed huge – it could be appropriately named “Wines-R-Us”. Our first impression was positive. This was not a wine snob kind of place. Bottles range from budget wines to those bearing price tags with multiple zeros. Best of all, one can sample a wide array of wines in-house. Either from the wine dispensers downstairs or in the restaurant and tapas bar upstairs. We like our wines sampled with food so we headed upstairs to the tapas bar.
Lavinia Madrid carries a wide range of wines from all over Europe. What was interesting were of course the Spanish wines. Most of them unseen in Singapore and we probably will not see them ever again. On the upper level, there was a formal restaurant. It looked like a fine place for dinner. But we were quite happy to settle down at the tapas tables in between the wine shelves.
There we found a wallet friendly tapas menu which has items averaging 10 euros each, with the Jamon Iberico being the priciest dish at 18 euros. A list of around 20 wines were available by the glass priced from an equally friendly 3 to 12 euros each.
Here are pictures of the wines we had selected based entirely on the recommendations of the young and enthusiastic server as we know next to nothing about Spanish wines. The Corimbo 1 from the Ribera del Duero region was the priciest red on the list and the best that we tried that day (9 euros per glass).
The food started with some complementary amuse bouche and a generous basket of bread. There are four humble items that people in Spain can make into food dishes of very high standards – olive oil, bread, tomatoes and anchovies.
The first tapas item was tomatoes with anchovies, capers and other garnishes (9 euros). Its overall taste was better than its looks. The tomatoes were the star – sweet, full flavoured and refreshing.
The croquettes dish is a staple at tapas bars. Here it was well made, simple and good value at 3 euros.
The sardines dish (6 euros) was marinated with vinegar and tasted really good. Better still when eaten with a bit of the crusty bread.
Our final tapas was the Tosta de Bacalao (7 euros). Cod fish on toast with mayonnaise topping. Yummy. The total cost of our light meal of three tapas and three glasses of wine at Lavinia Madrid was 48 euros. We like their all-inclusive pricing – no extras for service or tax, no need to tax our brain with mental sums.
Beautiful buildings in the Salamanca area are used for shops. Even when not buying anything, the shops are fascinating places to visit. The look so good both inside and out and this applies not only to the expensive brands. Main stream brands like Massimo Dutti (above picture) and Zara (below) have beautiful stores in the area.
Apart from shopping, there are some museums in the vicinity and The Plaza de Colón (Columbus Square) (picture below) along Carre de Serrano.
Overall Rating: 4 TOPs
Address: Ortega y Gasset 16, Madrid, Spain