Over the past couple of days I’ve been confronted twice with the growing “stylishness” of Spain and the definitive interest in catering to the jet-set. For the most part bar service in a “normal” setting is only preferential for regular customers and pretty girls. That must change, however, when there is big money, or big glamour, involved. Note: I must admit that the two experiences I’m about to relate occurred in notably “posh” areas – Palma de Mallorca and Calle Serrano (the most expensive street in Madrid).
While in Palma, Mallorca this past weekend we stopped in at ABACO, a restaurant-bar famous for its luxurious décor, historical building, and fancy-schmancyness. Nacho’s uncle had recommended the place as one where you go if you want to, “pay a lot for the experience.” We didn’t, particularly, but as we were wandering in search of a dinner spot (see post below) we happened past the entrance. Our attention was drawn to it by the crowd of people and the sign boldly proclaiming “No photos.” We decided to step in to see what all the fuss was about. The place is truly beautiful. There is a decadent living-room-type setting (if your living room is the entrance hall to a palace) and then an outdoor courtyard complete with fountain and caged parrots. As one of Nacho’s cousins and I were admiring the birds a waiter walking past said, “Que asco,” How disgusting. I wasn’t certain what he was talking about but when he returned a minute or so later he followed up with, “Idos ya,” Get out of here already. So we did. We didn’t go on vacation to be insulted. We discussed it over dinner and agreed that he probably was sick of people standing around staring at the gilded ceiling and talking to the birds. My take on it is that the bar has an open door policy for admirers. If you don’t want to deal with them go work elsewhere.
Today I met some friends for lunch on Serrano at Wagaboo, a trendy mini-chain of noodle restaurants in Madrid. I had read that they go so far towards being “cool” that they border on rudeness. But I’d also heard that the food was good and cheap and the setting a unique one. We headed over there at about 1:30 and when we approached the host he asked, “Tenéis reserva?” Excuse me? A reservation? For lunch? At 1:30? We clearly didn’t but he managed to find a table for us anyway. The service ended up being pretty good although all of the staff wear headsets to better control the setting. At one point two men in their mid-20s came down the stairs and I heard one of the waiters say into his headset, “Two boys (chicos) are coming down the stairs and they don’t look as though they belong.” I wonder what he said about us… When we left the restaurant had filled up somewhat but there were still plenty of empty tables. I guess some of the people with reservations must have cancelled.