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El Cucurucho del Mar, Madrid

6 Postigo de San Martín
Gran Vía
Tel: 34 91 522 0895's insider take:

When a delicate fillet of sole ennobled by an aristocratic reduction of fish stock and cava is priced at such an inexplicably low level, you might come to suspect that the restaurant is a front for some illicit seafood-trafficking operation. Happily, the business is their business; yours is choosing from among the array of fresh shellfish that sits over ice in a gleaming glass case. Whether you select navajas (razor clams), berberechos (cockles), or a rather intimidating buey de mar (ox crab), you're best off leaving the good-naturedly brusque staff to decide how each is best prepared. The kitchen also dabbles in elaborate marine preparations like smoked tuna belly stuffed with seaweed and sea urchin. In a rich riff on a Spanish classic, piquillo peppers are stuffed with whipped bacalao (codfish) and drowned in a creamy, well-developed shrimp sauce—yet another gift to the city.

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