Atea, Bilbao

Monday, 18 February 2013

Next stop on the Spanish whistle-stop tour was Bilbao. Home to Gehry's Guggenheim Museum, a single building that has completely revitalised the tourism industry to the town. It's quite a sight. It's a shame about the collections inside which stand alone in such cavernous exhibition spaces. I kept thinking back to my visit to the Louvre, a gallery where artworks are displayed in rows 3 high on their walls....The real star of the show in Bilbao is the museum's architecture! 

Let there be light: only B&W can save the Guggenheim on an overcast day as this!

For lunch we had a 2pm booking at Restaurante Atea, an eatery run by chef owner Daniel García. Lo and behold, we were the first table to arrive, such keen beans (quite hungry at this point)! The restaurant was an absolute nightmare to find, thanks to the help of some locals who directed us to the riverside we were put on the right track. The inside had a nice breezy, smart feel with a mix of modern bar seating and lounges.

The perfect setting for a casual lunch. I liked the blue tumblers and the brown paper bags filled with bread on each table (something to get you started)

As if we weren't struggling enough with the Spanish language or Catalan, we were met with another obstacle in the form of the Basque dialect (the street signs are indecipherable, to me anyway)! On the recommendations of the wait staff we ordered a few of the specials and a salad on the side. You know, the usual. Lunch went a little something like this...

Tenderrr! If anyone says "veal cheeks" around me, I am instantly reminded of how fabulous this dish was. The very epitome of 'slow-cooked' and 'melt in the mouth', everything was so right: the gravy the perfect complement, the meat falling apart with the slightest pull of your fork... WIN-NER.

Fish of the Day: a delicious fish stuffed with vegetables. Everything about this one screamed fresh :)

Like a little detox mid meal, an Autumn Salad with witlof, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and bacon bits. Refreshing + healthy.

Probably my least favourite part of the meal, the dessert was a bit underwhelming, probably because the savoury dishes were so good. Lemon mousseline with red fruits (left) and fruit soup with yogurt ice cream (right).

All in all García has delivered a refreshing take on Spanish cuisine. Too often we see restaurants and bars sticking with traditions and serving what they have done for hundreds of years. There is of course, nothing wrong with this but you can get a bit weary of the same thing day in day out. These modern interpretations of Basque food provide a nice change and show much promise for the future.

Paseo de Uribitarte 4, 48001 Bilbao

Thanks for reading! 


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