Friday, May 26, 2023, 9:59 p.m.
At the drop of a hat, with what arrives every new morning, racking their brains to create dishes of the day, off-the-menu menus, tapas, portions… This is how they cook in Picón. Perhaps others would say that they make seasonal cuisine, different hooliganism, fusion… But, without being any of that, Picón is also everything and something more.
This restaurant in Badajoz opened just a week ago on Paseo Condes in Barcelona. The thinking and executing head is Juanjo Beniteza 38-year-old chef who has returned from his business in Madrid “for a project that you don’t need, that is going to leave you dry and on top of that, surely, you no longer control as before,” he himself wrote on the day of the inauguration.
He has returned because Juanjo is from here, from Badajoz, although his family comes from Almendralejo. And although he has done it alone for several months to get this idea rolling and will return to Madrid, he already has experience in Extremaduran restoration. He cut his teeth at the Martínez Paiva restaurant, went to the Jamonería del Guadiana and opened Dieci9 del Tesso with Pepe Cano. After three years he left and, once in Madrid, he dedicated himself to creating Yantare, a company that he defines as “fifth soul” and that specializes in low temperatures and long cooking. They currently make dishes for Michelin star restaurants. He also created with some friends (the winemaker Juan Andrés Martínez, from the Martínez Paiva wineries and his partner, the wine consultant Luis Merino) a wine called Cayetanawhich aims to highlight this white Extremaduran grape variety.
In short, he was doing his thing. «Three months ago, when Dieci9 closed, Pepe called me to offer me the place. I didn’t feel like him, but several cooks and friends got together: Noel, Borja, Antonio, Miguel… and in the end we moved forward,” he says. And with a reform that is felt but not blatant, Picón became a reality on Friday, May 19.
But what does it really offer?
“Whatever we feel like or what occurs to us every day,” answers the calm chef and owner. «It is a space with a fun, comfortable atmosphere, far from protocol and where you can have a good breakfast, a good beer, a good tapas, a good meal, a good dinner… That is to say, whatever we put on the plate, whatever it is, is cool. ».
In Picón you can have a bottle of Vega Sicilia with a caviar and carabineros pizza. «The carabinero is cool, the caviar is cool and pizza is the coolest thing in the world. “It doesn’t have to be poorly regarded, in fact, we have sold 150 in just five days.” It is made from sourdough and they make it, as do the breads, which they serve sliced in a little basket.
And what else do they have?
Daily migas with very crunchy torreznos; sandwiches and hamburgers at eleven or twelve in the morning, when hunger strikes; Iberian ham and Montesano double loin; spoon plates; daily tapas that become portions on the weekends and a lot of grills. That’s also where the name comes from. “What I like most is a barbecue and I thought of those picón braziers that remind me so much of my town, so we put a little picón on the embers so that everything is impregnated and has that old-fashioned touch.” In addition, on one of the walls there are seven picon braziers hanging, they belong to his family and his colleagues and they have all been used to warm the soul, so they have a lot of sentimental value. Large paintings by Aitor Lara complete a genuine and rarely seen decoration.
And about drinking?
The same as always, a classic. “In Picón we are Cruzcamperos soldiers,” Juanjo confesses. «The best memories I have around a beer are in Seville drinking Cruzcampo and that’s why we want to have it, yes, of origin, without carbon, delicious,” points out this honest, sincere and salty Extremaduran who experiments with this place and in the coming days will give free rein to his latest idea: a musical thread of jokes Small in the bathrooms. To the attacker!
Paseo Condes de Barcelona, 19
Monday to Saturday from 08:30 to 00:00