June 13, 2024

Flamenco brunch in Madrid / a gem in el Barrio de las Letras

By W2SFadmin

It was a lovely Sunday morning. The Where to See Flamenco (W2SF) team had been bold. We had decided to venture beyond our Andalusian base to check out flamenco right in the chic heart of Spain’s capital city. We had taken the high speed AVE train from Malaga to Madrid. We roared past a mainly empty, but beautiful countryside, strewn here and there with stunning rock formations. It was a vast landscape which seemed to be mostly inhabited by countless orange, lemon and olive trees. After less that 3 hours of super comfort our train glided effortlessly into Atocha station. We disembarked, exited through the sprawling labyrinth of the station and strolled up the hill to el Barrio de las Letras.

This is an artistic area, right in the centre of Madrid that is home to the Teatro Español and the trendy bars and cafes of Plaza de Santa Ana. It has also been the home to many great Spanish writers of years gone by, including Lope de Vega and the most famous Spanish writer of them all: Miguel de Cervantes. It is also the hub of much of Madrid’s world famous flamenco and that was where we were heading. 

However, this was flamenco with a difference. This wasn’t an evening performance of the kind we had seen in Seville, Malaga, Marbella or Granada. This was a Sunday lunchtime brunch with a flamenco flavour. In my mind I would have normally associated Sunday afternoon with some laid-back jazz. This lunchtime was going to be somewhat louder and more raucous. 

As I am somewhat über-organised, I wanted to make sure we found the venue in good time. And for once the blue dots of Google didn’t fail. A guy was at the venue, setting things up outside, and the doors to the public weren’t yet opened.  To while away the half hour wait we went to one of the plentiful nearby cafes for coffee and tea. I had read somewhere that Madrid has the biggest density of cafes and bars in Europe. From what I saw I have no reason to disbelieve it. 

By the time we returned to the venue a trendy-looking, international queue had formed outside. Some of them, like us, with luggage in tow. We had just arrived in Madrid. Others were perhaps leaving, after a city break, rounding it all off with the delights of flamenco. We were welcomed in and shown to our table. A high table with a perfect view of the tabla (platform) where the show would take place. The name of the cafe was the Revoltosa Prada and the vibe was urban cool. The friendly camerero bought cocktails. Or for those not yet up to an alcoholic drink, at this still rather early hour for a Sunday, a delicious, refreshing orange juice. 

The rest of the brunch was a three course offering that included Salmorejo, shrimp salad, croquettes, calamari and a choice of wine, beer, a soft drink or coffee. There was also a vegan option available. It was a decent amount of food for a Sunday lunchtime and the service was in Spanish and English.  Sometimes it can be a little difficult to get a decent vegan meal. Not here, the vegan option was delicious and adventurous.

The flamenco itself was fabulous. Although it was billed as being part traditional and part fusion, it all seemed pretty progressive to our ears. Especially compared to the traditional flamenco we had heard in some of the tablaos in Andalucía. I wondered if there were some Latin American influences going in there. Or whether there are different influences going in from Madrid. The leader and organiser of the group was Desire Paredes, a young Madrid native, who sings and composes. Dancing was Marina Perea. Roberto Monteiro on guitar, a Brazilian, who arrived some years ago in Spain to study flamenco. They were supported by the percussive beat of David Gonzalez on cajón. 

The show was in two parts, which helped the food delivery as well. The dancing and Marina’s dresses were stupendous. The songs were wonderful, and with my far from perfect Spanish, I could understand a lot of what was being sung. Which was a bit of a win for me. Sometimes with the more traditional cante jondo it is quite difficult to pick up all the words.  So deep and introspective it can sometimes be

The experience was impressive. It was cool seeing flamenco on Sunday lunchtime and the show had a young, modern, urban take on traditional flamenco. The whole session including food and the flamenco lasted the best part of two hours. The venue was lovely. The seating arrangement allowed clear views for everyone and the decor in the cafe was stunning. For anyone in Madrid on a Sunday lunchtime Flamenco Brunch at the Revoltosa is definitely a hot tip. 

We love Madrid and the flamenco there is absolutely top drawer material. No false snobbery that somehow ‘authentic’ flamenco only exists in the south of Spain. W2SF can wholeheartedly vouch that this is not the case. For our first venture outside Andalusia to see flamenco we were delighted. We left the venue and blinked in the sunshine of the warm Madrid afternoon. We were off to check in to our hostal and to enjoy more diversions in this wonderful city. We went up to the 360° Rooftop Bar on the 27th floor of the Hotel Riu Plaza Espana. For the super daring there is a glass bridge you can cross, as you walk around the bar. But don’t look down if you are squeamish. The views are amazing. And you also get a splendid perspective of the Temple of Debod, an ancient Nubian temple, restored from the Nile valley. This is a glimpse into ancient Egyptian history and makes a stunning visit.

As for flamenco, Madrid style, we will definitely back for some more


Links:

Revoltosa Prada: https://revoltosamadrid.com

Desiree Paredes: Artist | Desirė Paredes (@desireparedesmusic) • Fotos y vídeos de Instagram