Bar Juventud, Los Gallardos

In my youth, Bar Juventud was the “other bar”. As people who lived on the “Crespo” side of the street, going into Juventud was akin to a Madrid supporter sneaking into a Barça pub. Only to be attempted wearing a large hat when noone was around. Which was a pity as it always had better tapas.

Then we grew up and rarely visited Los Gallardos, as we lived out in the sticks and once we were given a moped LG was “too rural” for our newly discovered expensive tastes. But Juventud still had the best tapas in the Levante. And it’s not just me – the director of the RTV-A (admittedly from Los Gallardos) thought much the same. (He also said the same about the old La Rueda – the perils of being related to the families of two different bars, no doubt).

Fastforward twenty years to 2009, when an Uruguayan named Eduardo and his wife took the place over. Eduardo started to run summer BBQ’s, once a week. Not for long, but it became famous and full. After all, the man is a master of the Parriallada. Despite his apparant OCD which leads him to wash his hands often (a good sign in both chefs and surgeons).

Eduardo has stopped the outdoor Parrialladas for the winter – despite the small door and narrow space for clients, Jueventud boasts a large exterior patio – but upon a smile, a wink and a 24 hour reservation will do one. As we discovered tonight.

The menu was simple. An ensalada de huerta, lots of tomatos. Couple of bottles of wine that had -how to put it?- been too close to the BBQ to be considered vintage but were still quaffable. Pan, with lots of ajo. Some homemade chimicurri. The best jacket potato I’ve had all year – crisp yet soft and tasty. And either secreto iberico or ternera – entrecote. You can have it well done, or very well done.Coffee, Orujo and a couple of Mr J’s “homemade” cigars for pudding. Ironically the cigars also seem to be from Uruguay.

The BBQ consists of a bonfire of ancient olive wood, coals from which are heaped over, under, and alongside, the meat. So rare doesn’t appear to be an option.

Flippin delicious. If you don’t like food like this, ‘eff off back to McDonalds. The daily tapas are good, too.

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