Best of Madrid: Corral de la Morería

Corral de la Morería combines two of my favorite things in Spain: food and flamenco.  Nobody can argue with the fact that Spain, more specifically, Madrid, has some of the best gastronomy and flamenco in the entire world.  I experienced this first hand at Corral de la Morería.

Corral de la Morería is not only the most famous flamenco tablao in the world (attracting guests such as Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, Michael Douglas, The Rolling Stones, Natalie Portman, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman, Ronald Reagan, Sarah Jessica Parker just to name A FEW) it´s also a gourmet restaurant that´s appeared in the Michelin Guide for six consecutive years.  Additionally, it´s been featured in the Book ¨1000 Places to See Before you Die¨.  Great, I´ve checked one off the list, 999 more to go.

The Vision:

After chatting with the two directors/brothers Juan Manuel and Armando del Rey (which I´ll share more about later in the Experience Section) they explained to me that the vision for this Tablao is simple concept, yet complicated to achieve.  The idea is to hold on the original concept of an elegant, classic, historical spanish flamenco show while providing attentive service and serving modern and innovative cuisine.  All in all, they strive to provide a premium experience for their clientele.  This is interesting because the two concepts (the historical building and show mixed with the modern cuisine) theoretically seem to juxtapose each other…but Juan Manuel and Armando have truly acheieved their vision, or rather the vision of their father.   Which leads me to the backstory.

The Backstory:

Juan Manuel and Armando also shared with me an intriguing, romantic history of the Corral.  The tablao was created in 1956 by Don Manuel del Rey, their father.   Often called ¨The Cathedral of Flamenco¨the center was the first of it´s kind to include not just a flamenco show but the concept of gourmet cuisine to accompany it.  The location of the Tablao is near the Palace and Calle Mayor but back in the day, this location was considered to be the outskirts of the city.  Apparently, the business was slow and so Don Manuel del Rey hoped to boost business by searching for the perfect flamenco dancer.  One of them, around age 14, came north from  Córdoba to dance in the Tablao.  Her name was Blanca.  As business increased, so did Don Manuel´s attraction to Blanca and 5 years later they were married.  Blanca was 19, Don Manuel was 49.  Blanca is now the artistic director of the establishement and her and Don Manuel shared many happy years running Corral de la Morería together, and now, their two sons are in charge.  How romantic!

 My experience:

As per all of my advice about Madrid, I absolutely must experience things first hand in order to recommend them to others.  So here you have my own personal experience and review of Corral de la Morería.

I decided to attend the second dinner and show, in order to have more time to hopefully chat with the owners and wander the place afterwards.  I arrived a bit early and was directed towards the bar.  As I sipped a glass of wine, I tried to focus on the details of the place and the people surrounding me.  The decoration and the building itself embody ¨old Madrid¨.  Typical classic paintings, original walls, windows and ceiling, art that could be in the Prado museum, it was exactly what I think a flamenco tablao should look like.  Flamenco is an old art form and I love seeing the attempt to preserve it as such.  It really adds charm to the experience.

The clientele was mixed-I noticed several tourist types, local couples, groups of friends.   I heard Spanish, English and Portuguese spoken-and the waiters were extremely accomdating to this.  I heard the server offer the table next to us a menu in Portuguese.    In general, the service was phenomenal, warm and not overdone, which is EXTREMELY rare in Spain, even at very nice restaurants.  We decided on the tasting menu and were offered excellent wine recommendations.  The tasting menu was the way to go and offers half plates so you can taste more items.

The menu is as follows.  I will try my best to translate into English.

Ensalada de Vieiras con Puré de Alcachofas y Dados de Tomate Aliñados

(Seafood salad with brussel sprout puree and diced tomates)

Yema de Huevo de Codorniz sobre Ropa Vieja, Crema de Zanahoria y su caldito de Cocido Madrileño.

(Hen egg yolk over roast beef with creamed carrots and Madrid style soup broth)

Lomo de Merluz de Pincho al Vapor con nuestra Salsa Pil Pil

(Steamed Hakefish with house sauce Pil Pil)

Solomillo de Ternera con Foie y Manzanas Caramelizadas

(Steak with Foie and Carmelized Apples)

Coulant de Chocolate con Helado de Vainilla Tahití

(Chocolate Coulant and Tahiti Vanilla Ice Cream)

The food and presentation were both exceptional.  I throughly enjoyed every last minute of it.  The wine parings were also phenomenal and included a Marques de Riscal Verdejo Rueda with the fish and then a Matarromera Crianza Ribera with the meat.  At the end, we also had a small sample of Pedro Ximenez dessert wine.  My favorite parts of the meal included the hakefish (I have never had hakefish so tender.  I was later told that use a new method of steaming the fish to keep the freshness and tenderness intact) and the steak with foie, which was cooked perfectly.

After the meal we were able to relax and enjoy the show.  The special guest artists, which change monthly, were Belén Lopez and Jesús Fernández, who are both known throughout Spain as being the best of the best when it comes to flamenco.  The show was beautiful and one of the most wonderful things about flamenco is that the dancers, singers, and musicans are all entirely lost in the passion of the music, which, in turn, makes you completely lost in it as well.

I enjoyed the dinner and show from a fashion standpoint as well.  I like to note the details, I think that is what really makes a place original and special.  From the different plates to the costume changes of the dancers, I felt that every last moment was created to give the clientele a true preminum experience.

I was in awe when the dancers stepped out in this particular costumes with the fans. I was curious about the outfits and I was later explained that this particular dance and song was inspired by Cuba, when flamenco dancers  briefly travelled to La Havana to learn new steps and dances to add into their routines.  This particular portion, as they stomped and whirled with the fans, literally transported me to another era, another time, ¨the old Spain¨-the one I´ve seen in movies and picture books.  It had a very magical element to it.

One of my favorite parts of the evening was after the show when Juan Manuel and Armando del Rey, the two brothers that run the Corral, sat down with me and we chatted.  They told me their vision, the backstory, and more.  The conversation flowed naturally  I was immediately able to tell why Corral de la Morería was and is so successful.  The family history, the warmth and passion these brothers put into this business is entirely evident.  They work  so hard to create the perfect balance between gourmet food and authentic flamenco, never losing sight of their father´s (and now their own) vision for the tablao.  The thoughtfully answered all my questions and did not hesitate to share with me their stories and experiences at the Corral.

All in all I had a very authetic experience at Corral de la Morería.  I highly recommened this establishment, it has officially earned the Life and Style Madrid Stamp of Approval.

Important Details:

The prices for the shows start at 38.90 euros and the dinner prices start at about 39.90 euros.  It is not neccesary to have dinner there (although I highly recommend it), you do have the option to simply see the show and have a cocktail while watching.

I believe Corral de la Morería has atleast one show daily so you are guarenteed to catch a performance no matter what day you are visiting Madrid.

Location: Calle de la Morería, 17 Madrid

Telephone:  913651137

(Note: the Iphone maps do not pick up this address, for whatever reason.  I recommened using a PC to look it up via google maps if you need to map the address. You can also see a map on their webpage.)

For more information, or to reserve tickets, visit the Corral de la Morería Webpage.

Photos by Jorge Ortega



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