It takes a lot for me to black list a restaurant, and publicly warn people against it, but considering the love affair people have been having with this place I really felt compelled to share my experience over the past 48 hours.
It all began on Sunday night, at 5:30 p.m., a half hour aftert they opened. It was a rainy, miserable night and the city was pretty dead. I showed up with my husband and a friend from out of town. FYI, they don't take reservations and you can't even speak to a live person when you call, you can only leave a message. Anyway, the restaurant has two sides, one room filled with tables the other with one four-top and a long bar with seating. We were informed it would be an hour wait to sit at the bar; they refused to seat us at the four-top table (we were too few) and the other room was completely empty. Idiocy. We left and said we'd try again another night.
Fast forward to yesterday night. Hubbie and I were in the neighborhood and, only because people rave about this place and we have been craving arroz negro since we went to the best place for it in Madrid with our friends who live there, we decide to give it another shot. We're told the wait will be 20 minutes, and they take our cell number and offer to call us if we want to have a cocktail nearby. We get the call 50 minutes later; after saying we were just around the corner, they guy tells us to hurry right over. We leave half-drunk drinks at the bar and hurry over, only to be told we have to wait -- and we do, another 15 minutes. In the interim, we put in our order for the arroz negro. When we are finally seated, we order the gambas al ajillo which arrive almost instantaneously and were completely unseasoned except for the garlic and oil they were sitting in and the shrimp were overcooked. We were starving and ate them. Finally, the arroz negro arrives and it looks, well, disgusting. The rice is in a thin layer; sprinkled on top of the rice are the a few boiled shrimp, a total of two scallops which were sliced into about 6 paper thin slices and scattered, a few pieces of raw red pepper and a few fava beans (not in season) also sliced in half, all boiled and totally unseasoned. The aioli they served with it had the consistency of dried out mayonaisse, not creamy at all, just lumpy. We dig in, considering our hunger and how long we've waited. The first spoonfuls reveal there are absolutely no calamari in this dish. After we try it, the rice is hard and crunchy. We dig around in the pan to see that none of the bottom is crispy, and we realize that the rice is just raw. Disappointed, we send it back. The bartender/waiter comes back from the kitchen and I assume he'll over us a free tapas while we wait for another paella. NOT SO. Instead, he informs us that the chef has asked if we would like some tapas INSTEAD. When pressed, he explains that they both tasted it and it was fine. We ask him to bring it back out, and we cut into rice grains and show him how they are not cooked through. After bringing it back to the kitchen, he returns and informs us that they chef said it was cooked perfectly and we can have tapas if we want. So, basically, the chef said f**k them, I know what I'm doing and I'm not going to try to please them with another paella. How European.
Needless to say, we walked out and spent the rest of the way home trying to pick uncooked rice out of our teeth.
Do yourselves a favor, if you're looking for good paella (or anything else, from what I could see) don't come here. Malaga on the UES is much better, probably El Faro as well though their food can be underseasoned, and at least their service is pleasant.