La Manduca de Azagra is a fairly long restaurant spread over numerous rooms with good spacing between tables that are appointed with lovely linens. The lighting and noise level are perfect. There is a fairly large menu with nightly special vegetables being featured. We split a number of dishes so we could sample a good variety of their food, and the portion size was perfect. Not all the staff spoke English but they couldn’t have been more accommodating, gracious and helpful. The woman, Anabel Arriezu Navarro, who helped us design our menu for the evening turned out to be the co-owner and wife of the chef, Juan Miguel Sola Prado. They have had the restaurant in this location since 2003 and still have their farm in Navarro. Together they make you feel like you are having dinner in their home – they are so friendly and welcoming. It was a totally delightful evening.
Tables are set with olives and then tomatoes and sausages are brought out for you to snack on while you decide on your meal. The olives on the table were quite tasty and the sausages burst with juice and flavor. The tomatoes looked pale but were actually quite good. They, as well as many of their vegetables, come from their own gardens.
We started with the gazpacho with pickled onions and grapes. It was an interesting texture – smooth yet thick – and delicious. The onions added something wonderful to meld with the sweet grapes and tart vinegar. You better believe there wasn’t a drop left in my bowl.
The artichokes were served in 2 formats, first were the small hearts fried to a perfect crisp. There was no taste of a fryer at all and they were seasoned nicely with course salt. Incredibly tasty and such a fun texture. The second format was boiled where the taste of the artichoke really came through. They were cooked so they melted in your mouth with a lovely burst of artichoke flavor.
Grilled red peppers were featured that night and they were a tasty fruity variety served warm. They were amazingly tender with an incredible flavor that did not contain a hint of bitterness. That pile disappeared way too fast!
The scrambled eggs were mixed with mushrooms and then foie gras was shaved on top. An interesting, unique dish that was so good and had a fun texture also. This was lick-the-plate great.
The grilled beef steak was prepared rare and juicy, full of beef taste. It had a nice amount of yellow fat and was amazingly tender. It was served with French fries that tasted like they could have been fried in olive oil. They were not the crispiest but were very nice and I really just wanted to fill up on the delicious meat.
For dessert we had the Caramel torrija with ice cream and oh wow, what a treat that was. It had a terrific little crisp sweetened edge on the bread which dripped with custardy goodness. The ice cream was nice but the torrija (made by Anabel’s daughter) was the star. This was Yum x3 goodness. The custard taste, texture and richness was to die for.
We finished with a chilled liquor from Navarro, Pacharan. It’s beautiful color was matched by its taste. To complement it further they brought out some crisp, buttery rolled up cookies to eat with it. This is a place I really hope to get back to!