Unlike the usual rough-and-ready-but-still-trendy dining options in Malasaña (yes, I admit it, it's probably my favourite barrio, although it had to fight with Lavapiés for that hallowed title), Nina is an oasis of exposed-brick and dimily-lit chic, offering surpisingly reasonably-priced modern Spanish/Mediterranean dishes accompanied by an extensive wine list. They may not have had the cava we initially chose, but the 2008 cabernet sauvignon rosé we ordered instead was a delicious substitute - in fact the best rosé I've ever tasted - that went down far too easily.
Once the difficult decision of what to eat was made - the menu features pastas, fish, meat and a summer specials section, in addition to starters and platters to share - we were presented with a basket of warm bread and a serving of gazpacho to whet our appetites. Appetites suitably whetted, I tucked into my tuna and courgette milhoja (layers) with asparagus, roasted tomatoes and a romesco sauce, while my date for the evening K polished off a cod fillet glazed with honey alioli. As can be expected such stylish surroundings, the portions were just-so rather than ginormous, but for €12.90 you can't exactly complain. Much as I love Albur across the street for its down-to-earth atmosphere and great Spanish grub, Nina's tuna options undercut its neighbours' by at least €4.
The New York cheesecake was a definite cut above many Spanish dessert offerings (no frozen La Mallorquina offerings here, oh no) and brought our evening to a tasty conclusion. Given the relaxed ambience, attentive service and high-quality food and drink, I can only say that Madrid's Nina is now a firm Malasaña favourite.
- Nina is at Calle Manuela Malasaña 10 (metro Bilbao).