During our recent visit to Spain we were able to fit in one afternoon and evening in Bilbao before catching our flight back to Washington, DC. Bilbao, located in the Basque Country, is one of Spain’s most beautiful urban centers. Home to the magnificent Guggenheim Museum, it is a wonderful city for walking. It hosts a promenade that runs along the river through the city, many attractive tree-lined streets with exciting architecture, and lots of fine restaurants and tapas bars. The Tapas bars located in the old city around the Plaza Nueva are a real treat.
For dinner in Bilbao we were fortunate to land a reservation at Zarate, one of the city’s finest restaurants. It is a small establishment that specializes in fresh local ingredients obtained directly from the ports of Ondarroa and Lekeitio on the Cantabrian coast. Fish and seafood are the specialty of the young chef owner Sergio Ortiz de Zarate, who has had a variety of assignments in the kitchens of the Basque Country’s finest restaurants. He is a master of simplicity and purity of flavor, and is highly creative.
At Zarate you can order al a carte or indulge in the restaurant’s magnificent tasting menus. We ordered three superb dishes al a carte, We began with “Guisante de Lagrima” tiny peas which are only available three weeks out of the year. Considered by some to be the “caviar of vegetables” they were served fresh in a warm vegetable broth, simple and ethereal. We followed this dish with a triumphant “Huevo ‘euskal oiloa’ trufado sobre puré de patata y hongos, jamón crujiente y aceite de oliva Castillo de Canena. “(see left). This dish featured a poached egg yolk (from a special breed of chicken from the Basque Country) and white truffles with potatoes, ham and olive oil. Our main course was a simple but large “Rey al Horno” A King Fish for two people, perfectly oven roasted with potatoes. For dessert we indulged in “Cremoso de Cholate Blanca, Naranja, y Helado de Menta” heavenly creamy white chocolate with oranage and mint ice cream.
The wine list at Zarate is quite extensive with selections from all over Spain. We order a very tasty 2012 Louro do Bolo from Rafael Palacios produced in the Valdeorras DO of Galicia from old Godello vineyards. It was a perfect choice for the food offering rich melon flavors, good acidity and freshness. The wine and food service at Zarate was also first-rate and highly professional.
The next time you visit the Basque Country we highly recommend you visit Zarate for dinner. However, be sure to make a reservation well in advance. The restaurant is located at Licenciado Poza 65 Tel. +34 944 41 65 21
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler May 26,2014