Madrid, Spain: Olivia Te Cuida
Words by Stephanie Corral Photographs by Jessica Comingore
Madrid café Olivia Te Cuida welcomes its regulars into an environment that is stylish, welcoming and filled with great food.
Graced with a vase holding a sprig of hyacinth, the table by the French window is what I always hope for when I arrive for a meal at Olivia Te Cuida. If the weather is good, the window will be open and I’ll get to watch Madrileños stroll by Calle Santa Teresa while I sip my café con leche. It is a small and simple joy, as is everything about Olivia Te Cuida.
Spanish for “Olivia takes care of you,” Olivia Te Cuida opened in February 2009 as an oasis for those seeking peace and quiet in the Spanish capital—not to mention healthy, affordable food. “We wanted to take care of the working person,” explained Esther Campoy, who runs the four-table restaurant with her husband, Fernando Fuentes, and her sister, Marian. While most Spanish restaurants close their kitchens around 2 p.m. and reopen for dinner, Olivia Te Cuida is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on weekends, proving that it’s more than just a restaurant; it’s a lifestyle.
The Campoy sisters share a meticulous eye for detail; they drew from their backgrounds in art and design when creating the restaurant’s menu and interior. “It’s a reflection of our taste,” says Marian, a photographer-turned-cook. “We wanted it to feel like a second home.” With raw oak floors and bare, eggshell-colored walls, Olivia Te Cuida manages to be aesthetically minimal and cozy. Strangers commune together at the large, stainless-steel table in the center of the room, where toasters are readily at hand. A crate of oranges sits outside the kitchen while inside, Marian prepares dishes using family recipes and locally grown produce. “We use the same recipes we use in our kitchens at home,” says Marian. “It’s wholesome cooking but nothing too sophisticated.”
The menu is divided into salads, vegetables and grains, and includes dishes such as mint couscous—with chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes—and roasted aubergine topped with pomegranate seeds, scamorza cheese and pine kernels. The chocolate tart with sprinkled saffron is a popular pick among the desserts.
Initially nervous about their limited space, the Campoy sisters are happy with their choice and determined to keep Olivia Te Cuida small and in the family. They even asked two close friends to join the team as waiters. There is hardly a lull during business hours, and reservations are highly recommended to get a table. “Because it’s so small, it was full from the very beginning,” says Marian, laughing.
Santa Teresa 8
Madrid, Spain 28004