There are places and people that never cease to surprise. Sometimes, although the steps you take might be small or big, the important thing is to not wander outside the path that defines a project or and objective. This is the case in the philosophy and essence of Mamá Campo. David and Nacho opened the shop, the restaurant, the children’s area La Cocinita and now they open ‘La Cantina de Mama Campo’, a traditional organic saloon where the only important thing is good food at a good price whilst enjoying a good time.
In the legendary ‘Wizard of Oz’, the good witch tells Dorothy “follow the yellow brick road”. David and Nacho worked to find out which was their yellow brick road and they had it all figured out since the start: organic products. This is the line they have been following since the beginning of their adventure with Mamá Campo.
A menu with personality
‘La Cantina de Mama Campo’ (Trafalgar 22, Plaza Olavide, Madrid) opens its doors with integrity and no more pretensions than being a place were guests can feel at ease while eating traditional food but with a renovated touch, adapting itself to the new trends. With a price ranging between 15 and 20 euros, in an informal and fun setting different from all others, they make the origin of the products and the people behind them a main actor in their meals.
You can see this in their menu: ‘Patatas Bravas (mile-feuilled with homemade sauce)’, ‘Cooked ham with patatas revolconas (from the legs from Marc’s beautiful pigs and dressing)’, ‘Veal with sauce (stew with the veal from Avila that are brought up by Marina in the mountains)’, ‘Traditional egg with Iberian pork loin (the chickens that Celia owns in Los Pedroches that eat acorns)’, ‘Veal tail mollete (larded and veal, because there aren’t so many bulls as they say)’, ‘Pork barbuquejo montadito (directly from Luis’ farm who breeds them very nicely)’, ‘Mamá Campo’s minutejos (our version of the traditional recipe with a base of pig-ear)’, etc. All of it plated with original dishes form Ibili, jars from Le Parfait and metallic trays with vegetable paper (with no petrol unlike in other restaurants).
An organic gastronomic proposal that they say has been elaborated with great care, and you can really tell. Apart from the quality of the ingredients, you can feel the love that the cook Stéphane del Río puts into all his creations. A 35-year old with a big desire to work, take up new challenges with resilience and humility. Proud of his team and happy in his kitchen he believes in the organic product as the main idea of the project.
In the menu he has included a few products from the sea, but because fish cannot always be officially certified organic, they have opted for the elaboration of their own dishes: ‘Mussels in Pickled Sauce (our homemade pickled sauce with French fries to dip with)’, ‘Smoked salmon, semidry tomato and Idiazábal cream (just arrived from the artisanal smokehouse of Jorge in the mountains of Madarcos)’, amongst others.
The ‘Colmado’ (shop), only a few metres away from the ‘Cantina’, is the pantry where Stéphane and his team get all his ingredients from, the same deal as with the restaurant. That is why they always say “it’s not market cooking, but colmado cooking” (“no es Cocina de Mercado, sino Cocina de Colmado”). It’s always the fresh products that set the direction of the menu that changes with the season. An example is ‘This week’s homemade empanada (each week we invent a new one with products from the colmado)’. That is nature taking the reigns and also the farmers and livestock breeders that work hard to get to them the best of the best.
The drinks menu is also very thought trough: wines with personality sold by the glass (many organic), organic handcrafted beer, and the same goes for the cider, the vermouth, the gin, the mojitos…
The ambiance of la ‘Cantina’
The decoration of la Cantina is another thing to highlight, because it follows the same line as the rest of their venues, including recycled materials but changing the style a bit to a more fun and informal one. The brother Jacobo and Bruno Gavira, in charge of the apparent, yet marvellous crazy decoration, were very clear about it: they reused the furniture from the bar previously at that location, elevating chairs and tables, hanging stools from the ceiling and painting white everything that was at the venue, except a small strip on the floor, the walls and the ceiling where you can see the original décor.
On the basement floor there is a salon for group or event celebration that David and Nacho are dying to use. Tapas, drinks and dancing to the music of Boogaloo, Northern Soul, Spanish jazz from the 30s and 40s... And the cherry on the cake: their spectacular outdoor seating area on the Olavide plaza, streaming with people both in spring and summer. A compulsory visit in the Madrid neighbourhood of Chamberí.
Of course, there are places that speak for themselves, that tell stories, that fill your belly, your soul and are a joy to behold. You just have to close your eyes and listen. In the Cantina of Mamá Campo you only hear one thing: laughter.