Review of Negro Carbón
After a day spent exploring the majestic Alhambra I deserved a good steak. Negro Carbon, at the very foot of the Alhambra promised one of the best steaks in Granada, I ordered two just to be sure.
It was 8.20pm and I was eagerly anticipating my first Spanish steak since my epic steak tour of San Sebastian. We arrived as the restaurant opened (at 8.30pm!) and were very warmly welcomed by our waiter Jorge. The first thing you notice upon entering Negro Carbon is the impressive charcoal grill, which is positioned in direct sight of the front door. Seeing the grill I suddenly registered the significance of the name of the restaurant. Clearly Negro Carbon is named for black carbon or charcoal.
The menu serves as a place mat and is full of glorious sounding meat. I had begun to narrow my steak choice to one of two steaks: Txuleton from a Pinto (Gallego Rubio) cow and a cut of sirloin from the Retinta cow. I was curious about trying the Retinta cow but not at the expense of the Txuleton. We ended up with just under 1kg of each steak. Both rare, which were charged at about 6 euros per 100gm.
The Retinta steak arrived first, it was both broader and thinner than expected and looked like it had been flash grilled to ensure it stayed rare. The steak was unusual. The meat was soft to bite but despite that was a bit chewy. There wasn’t a lot of flavour to it either. As I was assessing the Retinta steak, the Pinta or Txuleton steak arrived. In contrast to the Retinta, the Txuleton looked gorgeous. It was thick, charred and elegantly sliced. The taste was insanely good. One bite of the Txuleton had more beef flavour than the entire Retinta steak. I gorged on the Txuleton. It was the perfect balance of intense taste and tenderness. The difference between the two steaks was night and day or black and white. The Txuleton figuratively shat all over the Retinta steak.
The owner, Jorge, came around and asked which steak I liked more. I pointed to the Txuleton steak and said it was a hundred times better. He agreed but said that his chef prefers the Retinta. I asked a bit more about the Retinta steak (if you’re curious about Txuleton, you can read my feature on Basque Beef here) and Jorge explained that the Retinta steak is from a brown Spanish breed raised near Cadiz. The cow is slaughtered at 2 years and the meat is not aged. I found it quite striking that the Retinta and Txuleton steak were going at the same price. I’d have put a premium on the Txuleton or a discount on the Retinta. The steaks were not in the same ball park.
If you’re visting Negro Carbon I highly recommend stopping by for a Txuleton steak and a jug of Sangria to help wash it down. On a side note, you’ll be well looked after Jorge and his team who are amongst the friendliest and most professional I’ve ever come across.