An old railway station canteen may not sound like the place for a romantic dinner, except maybe in a war movie kind of way, but Madrid’s Restaurante Algóra, which started out as “la Cantina de la Estacion”, is now a softly lit haven that specializes in elegance and tradition. It welcomes solo diners, groups, and couples — but also offers a Valentine’s Day special that goes on for three days.
Inside, the white table linen contrasts with the weathered brick of the renovated mid-nineteenth century building. Each table is individually lit.
Every country seems to have certain gaps and quirks when it comes to putting restaurant menus online. In China, it’s hard to find any online menus at all; in Spain, almost no restaurant puts prices on theirs. Algóra, bless it, is not like that, so I can tell you what you’ll spend (more or less) on a dinner for two there.
There are three menus: Day, night, and dessert. Looking at the night menu, you’ll see traditional Spanish dishes with a touch of Asian influence. Appetizers (entradas) range from simple soups like gazpacho at € 7 to Iberico ham at € 17. In between are stuffed peppers, croquetas, and much more. (By the way, the English menu seems to be still under construction, so you’ll need a way to translate if you don’t read Spanish — in fact, I occasionally needed Google Translate and I do read Spanish.) Salads, most containing tomato, will run you € 10.50 to € 15.50 for the one with marinated salmon.
Main dishes are divided into fish, grilled meat, and other meat. The fish starts at cod tempura (see what I mean about Asian influence) at € 17. Cococha de merluza — the best tasting part of the hake, which is apparently under the jaw — is at the other end of the scale at € 22.
Grilled meats consist of sirloin, tenderloin, and other cuts of beef and veal. Individual servings cost from € 15.50 to € 18.50, while the beef tenderloin for two is € 46. Other meats include duck confit, oxtail lasagna, and stewed chicken with saffron. They run from € 16.50 to € 18.
The dessert menu is extensive for a Spanish restaurant, and there’s plenty of chocolate on it — chocolate soufflé, chocolate tart, white chocolate mousse, fruits with warm chocolate. All desserts are € 4.50, except for the two-person caramelized stuffed pineapple.
Algóra is at Calle Santa Rosa 2, El Escorial, and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM and 8:00 PM to 11:30 PM.
Editor’s Note: Check out this article for ideas of where to go shopping while on your romantic trip to Madrid.