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Sala de Despiece. Photo: J. Taltavull

Sala de Despiece. Photo: J. Taltavull

Sala de Despiece. Photo: J. Taltavull

Sala de Despiece

Address Ponzano 11; 28010 Madrid
by José Abascal
Neighbourhood Chamberí | See on map
Metro Alonso Cano [L7]
Telephone +34 91 752 6106
Website http://www.academiadeldespiece.com/
Price EUR 25-40
Hours Mon-Fri 13-17, 19:30-0:30. Sat 13-18, 20-01:30. Sun 13-18.

The name translates into ‘cutting room’ and the look is indeed slaughterhouse-y, with meat-cutting tools used for decoration and ceilings clad with polystyrene cool boxes. But while concept restaurants usually tend to polarise opinions, criticism at Sala de Despiece is mostly directed at how darn popular it is and how hard it is to find room in there.

For many, this small place is the prime attraction of Calle de Ponzano, a street in Chamberí that’s become something of a foodie paradise in recent years. Prime quality ingredients and an element of show cooking are the draws and, with no reservations taken, you’re best advised to turn up as it opens, or very late in the shift when the crowd (mostly of thirty and forty-something locals) dwindles ever so slightly. And even then expect to stand.

Dishes are generally small – the weight is also specified on the menu, along with origin of the produce – but exquisite. The burrata, served with rocket pesto is excellent, especially coupled with an order of tomato (giant-sized and so tasty). The steak tartare and the navajas razor clams are also sure-fire hits. When ready, catch the attention of a waiter to send your order by iPad. Then look over: you can follow the kitchen putting on the finishing touches.

Sure, the concept is gimmicky and it’s not exactly cheap either. Still both raw materials and execution are good enough to pull it off and make it worth every cent. It’s too packed (and don’t even try to go in groups larger than four), too loud and too stressful to go every night but it’s an experience that you’ll want to pocket at least once.