There are few eateries in the city of Madrid that have been frequented by young and old, rich and poor, singles, couples, families and groups over the years. One such is Casa Mingo, a short walk from the Metro at Principe Pio and a city institution, where the main item on the menu is roast chicken – just the one, mind – washed down with a bottle of the house’s own brand Asturian Cider.
It’s one of those places that seems busy, but where they always find space for you (and your party, however large). But times change: Casa Mingo has become more expensive over the years – the cider now comes in at €5.80 a bottle – and times are less good. Two years ago, the place seemed to be weathering the downturn pretty well, but tonight the place was well and truly dead.
Two tables were occupied in the whole place when I arrived, making a 50% table occupancy increase. Four waiters seemed embarrassed at having to take turns to serve a whole extra customer. The order – Pollo, Pan y Sidra – did not in any case need writing down to help later recall. Another dozen or so arrived in the next hour, but this was dire compared to a decade ago.
There was nothing wrong with the fayre – Casa Mingo chicken and cider is always good – but more potential diners are going straight home, visiting cheaper places, or eating on the go. The idea that “well, it was only Monday” doesn’t wash. This place was always at least ticking over, even on the quietest day of the week. I’d hate to see it go to the wall, but you never know.
Times are indeed hard in Madrid right now.