Housed in a little nook in Fort Lane opposite Imperial Lane is Madriz — a, for lack of a better word, authentic pintxos and tapas bar that you've got to visit if you're into 'the real deal' imported goods.
I personally love discreet, hole-in-the-wall establishments, especially when the guy who runs it has an endearing Spanish accent adorned with a slight lisp. I like it even better when they serve true 568mls pints (nah, a British pint isn't actually just half a litre — you've been scammed by two less shots of beer per serving your whole life — I'm sorry the world is so unfair like this, it's disgusting). The owner, Juan, a true believer in integrity, will serve you the best creamy lager from an imported keg of Estrella from Spain. And yes, it is one hundred percent balls-to-the-wall amazing. You'll be pleasantly surprised to know that when it comes down to paying the bill, these bad boy pintos are $8.50 instead of whatever obscene price fellow Auckland CBD bars are charging for a cup of mediocre brown fluid.
Apart from the fantastic beer at an even more fantastic price that won't be pillaging my already negative account, the Spanish Manzanilla olives ($3) are pretty next level too. A salivating teaser that showcases the rare and highly sought after goods, it's a shame they don't provide this in bulk as I would've loved to eat these from the jar while watching the last few episodes of GoT in bed. Or better yet, make a shaken, not stirred, super salty and dirty martini for my evening tipple.
Designed to offer an experience of a traditional Madrid tapas bar, this little joint seats around six people with a couple of tables in the lane for summer. A couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to grab two seats facing a display cabinet full of different pintxos that I couldn't stop staring at with hungry eyes. For the first round of tapas, we nibbled on a bowl of pickled mussels from the north of Spain ($9) and patatas bravas ($9.50) — a dish of cubed fried potatoes with spicy tomato and aioli. The perfect pairing with an Estrella pint; picture a low-key date night in hoodies and puffer jackets. For the second round, we ordered a small plate of Felisa's roast lamb shoulder with Spanish spices and baked potatoes ($16). Carrying a homemade taste filled with the labour of love and time, this was enough to make our bellies full and slap on a cheery smile to our faces.
Offering a takeaway option for a whole roast lamb shoulder to share on a bed of roasted veges ($50), you can easily fib that Spanish blood runs through your veins with this impressive dinner party contribution. The next time it rains in Auckland, which will most likely be tonight, I'll be calling up to pre-order a huge slab of delicious roast lamb ready for an Uber pick-up.