Subject: Restaurant report
A few days I visited an arrocería (restaurant specialising in paellas and other rice dishes) in Madrid, and I thought you might be interested in this brief report:-

The restaurant is called El Caldero and is at number 15 Huertas street (tel: 91-4295044), just off the Plaza Santa Ana. It is a Murcian restaurant, with around 20 small tables in one reasonably sized room. It was necessary to book before hand, although we did this on the same day.

As you may know, a paella is typically a mid-day meal, so we booked our table for 15.30h (and some people even came in after that!). There were all sorts of rice dishes on the menu: arroz caldero (a special Murcian dish, with more liquid than a normal paella), arroz a banda (rice made with fish, prepared on a separate plate) and many other dishes from Alicante, Valencia and Murcia. There were also plenty of starter dishes to choose from.

We ordered habitas con jamón (small broad beans, sautéd with cured ham) and a normal paella mixta (with chicken and shellfish). The paella was for 2 persons, although we were able to get 3 decent plates out of it for our daughter as well. To accompany the food we decided on a special sangría they do here - sangría de cava, made with dry Catalán champagne and which goes really well with the rice.

The drinks were brought with a small dish of large olives and some bread and olive oil. The habitas were quickly devoured (one of the family's favourite foods) and we waited paciently for our paella, which finally arrived and was served onto 3 plates by the waiter. The rice included clams, chicken, shrimps, freshwater crayfish (cigalas), calamars, tomatoes, green + red peppers and parsley and was delicious.

When we'd finished, the waiters provided us with some small water bowls containing a slice of lemon and also some paper toilettes so we could wash away the smell of seafood on our fingers after peeling the shrimps, etc.

For desert, there were several options: a yoghurt cream, chocolate mousse, sorbets, cakes, etc. plus of course coffee. After our coffee the waiters presented us with a small glass of their own licquor. We never got round to discovering what it was made from but it had a taste resembling a mix of hazelnuts and coffee and was pleasant enough.

Final bill: 10,500 pesetas for 3 people. (the champagne sangría cost 1375 pesetas and the paella for two, 4800 pesetas)

Final verdict: To be recommended.