We made a delightful recent discovery while driving from Valladolid to Madrid in pretty Arévalo, Avila province, stopping for a roast lamb lunch at the 1 Repsol sun, family-run ASADOR LAS CUBAS, going strong since 1986.
This charming town is noted for its many hornos de asar, serving both cochinillo (aka tostón) and lechazo, roast suckling lamb.
LAS CUBAS proved to be a delightful choice, as I could enjoy roast lamb while my husband, still needing to drive for 90 more minutes, could order baby lamb chops, a dish somewhat less soporific.
Here one can order a portion (ración) rather than a whole “lechazo”, and I was served the leg portion, incredibly tender and juicy with crisp, delicious skin--prepared to perfection and second only to my favorite version at Mannix (Valladolid province).
As a starter we chose white Navarran asparagus with ali oli, passing up, sadly, their famous ham croquettes, their lamb sweetbreads and the scrambled eggs with morcilla and pine nuts, as we were attempting to go "light" (a goal difficult to achieve in a classic Castilian roasting house!). To accompany the meal, a light Cigales red, although the restaurant has a nice selection of Ribera del Duero wines. For dessert, a simple lemon ice cream, despite being tempted by their home made leche frita, cheese flan and ponche segoviano.
The attractive dining room, part of an ancient wine warehouse, displays large earthenware wine vats (tinajas) and oil paintings on its brick-lined walls. The décor— Castilian rustic mesón but sophisticated.
Because its roasting oven also produces delectable, legendary roast suckling pig, diners can enjoy these two Castilian specialties in the same charming restaurant.
The service from the Arias family members we found very engaging. We had made email reservations a month in advance and were asked it we planned to order lechazo or cochinillo. The restaurant was fairly busy at the lunch hour but on weekends, given its fine reputation, one does need advance reservations so as not to endure a long wait for a table, as it's well known among madrileños as one of the area’s very best roasting taverns.
Open for lunch daily but no dinners.
LAS CUBAS also comes Conde Nast Traveler and Tapas Magazine recommended.
Speaking of MANNIX above, we plan a return visit next winter as the master lamb roaster Marco Antonio García, the “king of lechazo”, has put his niece, Gemma García, who trained at El Celler de Can Roca, in charge of the appetizers, desserts and wines, and she’s revolutionizing the concept of the classic roast lamb asador.
Her creations include a ninoyaki of chorizo a la sidra, amanita mushrooms in a carbonara sauce and a profiterol of oxtail with mole and stewed black chanterelles. She has created 25 special “off menu” starters that one can order in advance on her Instagram page. Her 17 special desserts also shine: Payoyo cheesecake (must be ordered in advance), flan made with goose eggs and rice pudding with Maldon sea salt and butter, among others.
Gemma is also the sommelier and has chosen 500 labels for her cellar.
While other hornos de asar sometimes neglect their accompaniments, Mannix’s bread comes from Calasparo’s local baker, tomatoes from a local producer, the olive oil hails from Pago de Valdecuevas, and they make their own vinegar.
I highly recommend a stop at the incredible MANNIX when wine touring in the Ribera del Duero.
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