In a certain way, vegetarian restaurants can be a little bit frustrating.
Some vegetarian restaurants turn a vegetarian meal into an uncomfortable thing.The white hospital - type wall colour, the tasteless food, the furry whole wheat rice, the signs forbidding smoking or the New Age music, make me associate the macrobiotic food with antibiotics.
This is the reason I have been so impressed by the Estragón Restaurant.
It is located in the picturesque Plaza de la Paja and it is light years from the Spartan dining rooms that of most vegetarian restaurants.
The Estragón Restaurant converts vegetarian cuisine into a party that allows oneself to just enjoy a good meal.
Even the decoration is different…. It looks like a normal restaurant.
It is built on three levels; the white and blue tiles are a memory from Andalusia taverns; the metal lamps and big fans hang over the tablecloth - covered tables.In this vegetarian restaurant, the music is lively, from flamenco to soul and blues. You can choose to sit apart or to join a guest dinner group in one of the dining rooms.
From the upper level you can admire the excellent views of the Plaza.
We started with rice salad and vichyssoise.
The rice salad is a copious dish which is already a full meal.
The lettuce is remarkable measured out and the cook combines the red peppers, the raw mushrooms, the olives and the tomato with appetising wholemeal rice.
The vichyssoise, a creamy cold soup of leeks, is very refreshing and really satisfactory.
We had as main course Three Colours Cake and Mousse Crepes.
The cake reminded you of the Irish flag on a sky background or a béchamel backcloth, with spinaches, potatoes and carrots, all arranged in spongy lines.
The crepes, light and crispy, stuffed with vegetables and raisins, covered with mayonnaise, sprinkled with sesame seeds, recalled an impressionist painting in a Martian landscape of Pathfinder.
As a garnish they served battered aubergines, sprinkled with fresh lemon.
It was delicious.
Regarding the dessert, I'm always predictable. Any dish containing chocolate makes me leave out other possibilities.
The fresh watermelon is a very healthy meal, but I never order it.
The chocolate cake was too much for us but the effort was worth it although it almost cancelled out the "healthy food" effect of the vegetables dishes.
This is one of the things I love most about the Estragón Restaurant.
It is a vegetarian restaurant for people who enjoy eating.
It is a place where you don't notice that there is no meat on the menu.
It is the place that the Madrid vegetarians have been waiting for a long time.