Cafe Madrid: Rain Couldn't Dampen the Tapas,
But Mr. Pedestrian Did

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A week ago, two friends and I ate dinner at Café Madrid. One had never eaten there -- shame on her. The other friend and I remarked how we both loved Café Madrid's tapas but hadn't been there in awhile. Then I remembered how long it had been and who I had been there with last -- the infamous Walker. Before understanding how The Walker earned his title, let me set the stage for this memorable date I had a couple years ago.

I remember my date asking me if I wanted to go to a tapas bar for dinner. He spoke so fast that I heard "do you want to go to a topless bar?" My eyes widened in fear that the stripper pole would soon be 10 feet in front of us, and I asked: "Come again? I'm not sure I'm dressed appropriately" (nor would I ever want to be). Then my date clarified, "You know, Café Madrid, for tapas." Phew, I thought. "Of course, tapas sound great." Then we ventured to the Spanish restaurant on a July night.

It had been overcast all day, so it wasn't too terribly hot. We decided to eat outside to enjoy sangria and what seemed like every Spanish snack the menu offered. The date started well -- especially since great tapas like the albondigas (Andalucian meatballs in almond sauce) and croquetas and excellent traditional red sangria were involved. But then it started to rain. Instead of suggesting we move inside, my date thought we could hold out under the small awning that covered a quarter of our table (smooth move in hindsight). We moved all of the food and our drinks under as much cover as possible and actually had a fun rest of our dinner despite having to occasionally wipe down the table from accumulating rain. The staff offered impeccable service, but no doubt thought we were loony tunes for not fleeing from the soaked dinner table. Yet, we had enough in common and talked out the rain. It was going well. This one looked like a possible keeper.

My date then asked if I wanted to take a stroll around the Travis Walk area. The rain had stopped, so I agreed. We started to walk and he immediately fixed the way we walked. "If we're going to walk it has to be a proper promenade walk. I have to be between you and the street -- that's where a gentleman walks. And you have to hook your arm in mine." He instructed me. His idea seemed logical enough and a tad romantic. So even though we looked like we stepped back into Victorian era England -- my date only lacked a walking stick, a top hat and a pocket watch -- I hooked my arm in his and we promenaded down Travis Walk. Our walk was all fine and dandy until it started to rain again. I started to run for the car and he started whining, telling me we hadn't finished the walk yet.

My second wide-eyed moment of the night occurred. I looked and him and asked "are you serious, you still want to walk in this rain?" "Well yeah, don't you?" He asked. Who was this guy? Gene Kelly? "No, I'd rather not. How about we go get dessert somewhere?" I responded. "OK," he said and suggested Paciguo in the West Village. "Sure, sure, that sounds perfect," I said rushing to the car. We drove to Paciguo to eat our cups of two gelato flavors each and sat inside to savor them.

I felt the date had been salvaged and my clothes were more dry than damp when we left the gelateria, until my date said: "Well the rain's died down again. Do you want to take a walk around the West Village?" I almost started laughing at my date, but instead caught myself and said: "No thanks; my feet are starting to hurt." And that's when The Walker looked at me with disbelief and hurt in his eyes. "Really, you don't want to go on another promenade walk tonight? You want me to take you home?" He inquired. "Really," I declared. "Really, I do."

Looking back, you can't go wrong with Café Madrid for a great date. Even the rain can't destroy the ambiance. It's just what happens afterward that sangria might not be able to save.

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