The actual location, at 7 Cuchilleros Street, is close to Plaza Mayor, near bustling bars, shops and taverns where one can have a glass of wine and some traditional tapas. The French chef Jean Botín, who came to Madrid looking to land a job in Habsburg Court, was the original owner of the restaurant.In 1725, Botín‘s wife’s nephew opened a small inn at Cuchilleros Street and made some reforms to the building’s ground floor, closing the existing arches. To this day, a stone block still marks the date of the restoration at the restaurants entrance. The original wood stove, also from this period, continues to attract diners to the restaurant with tantalizing aromas. It is also considered the oldest wood-fired oven in the world. A tour of the restaurant’s basement is quite a unique experience. As an interesting side note, we should mention that according to the 1987 edition of Guinness, a young Francisco de Goya, worked at Botín in 1765 as a dishwasher.
The downstairs underwent another restoration in the 19th century, adding a gilded wooden frieze at the entrance as well as new display cases and a pastry counter from where the most delicious treats were sold. Back then Casa Botín was known as a “house for meals” since the term restaurant was reserved for very few and exclusive places that emulated Parisian bistros.Casa Botín occupies four floors, and its brick facade is typical of 16th century Madrid. The traditional Spanish cuisine served inside these old walls is of excellent quality and attracts a large number of visitors who come from all corners of the world. The centuries-old dining rooms are all different and unique, beautiful and seem to be anchored in history.Renowned writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Benito Pérez Galdós, Graham Green and Frederick Forsyth have mentioned Sobrino de Botin in their novels, and its old dining rooms have welcomed such illustrious figures as Henry Kissinger, Jordan’s King Hussein, the Spanish Royal Family, David Niven, Charlton Heston, Tony Curtis, Shirley MacLaine, Marcello Mastroianni, Quentin Tarantino, Pedro Almodovar, Melanie Griffith, Antonio Banderas, singer Tom Jones and chess champion Anatoly Karpov, among many other personalities.
This warm, cozy restaurant offers excellent service to match the outstanding cuisine, which features local classics such as suckling pig, roasted lamb, sirloin with mushrooms, the best Iberian ham, tasty clams, eggplant gazpacho and a fantastic fish casserole, among many other delicacies. To satisfy your sweet tooth, it may be difficult to choose between Tarta Botín with cake and cream, delicious cheesecake with white chocolate or the typical warm apple tart. And special attention should be paid to the excellent wine list, offering a wide tour through the main Spanish appellations in a country where art is a revered art form.More than just a restaurant, Botín is a museum for food, a historical piece of Madrid and Spain. Sobrino de Botín is a place that no one should miss when visiting this amazing European capital. ■