Asador Guetaria, Bar and Restaurant, Bilbao, Spain
This place needs getting used to it. The first impression while you enter the location is that you think you are in a fast food kind of bar but certainly not in a restaurant. The real restaurant is in the back! On the way to it you’ll pass the grill station and confidence will return that you made the right choice. The BBQ is huge, hot and at the moment we came along covered by big pieces of meat and some fish. Very alluring.
The guest room is rather traditional. Unfortunately the main guest room has no window, as far as I could oversee it there wasn’t any access to fresh air. The manager of the restaurant wore a light blue jacket, his tie also colorful but suitable – all together the expression of a special character. Either it is a part of Basque mentality to remain rather reserved or just the style of the restaurant as there remained a strange and incomprehensible distance among service and guest.
The restaurant offers – according to that what I read beforehand – “highend” traditional Basque cuisine. The Basque region is distinguished by wild Atlantic coast, semi high mountains with a lot of traditional small-sized agriculture and ugly coal, mining and steals industries in particular around Bilbao. This means first of all a really rich cuisine: big variety and fresh seafood together with a kind of farmer’s food for poor but hungry laborer. Obviously the menu of Asador Guetaria is full of rather heavy dishes. Almost all appetizers contain grilled stuff (seafood, meat) or smoked ham, fish or sausages. Of course all this comes in the most of the cases along with sauces or at least “a little bit” olive oil. In general you have the choice between some menu and simply ala card. But I would lead your attention to all “specials” of the grill – fish and meat – as this seems to be the specialty of the restaurant. Many of those offers are for two or even more persons as the size of goods are large. I haven’t seen one table with only one or two guests there.
My appetizer were black mushrooms baked with some pieces of paté of Jabugo
And for the main we shared a mega cut of a local Ox rib eye. Very well grilled, medium rare (of course) and just a very huge portion suitable not only for two but for four persons: this was really a very good piece of meat!
And for dessert you should not expect something light. It came along as a part of the special selection:
curd ice cream with caramelized walnuts.
Along with the mentioned special you had the choice of two house wines. As they praise themselves for their unique wine collection which I hardly can evaluate as I have no idea about Spanish wine I was rather disappointed about an unbelievable inflexibility by the manager. I asked him for some recommendation instead of the classic house wine and expressed my willingness to pay even something more. He rejected very strictly and advised that I had to take one the both wines. At least, I admit, the one he preferred wasn’t too bad at the end but nothing I would ever remember: (D.O. Rioja Alta): average wine, simply and fair.
All together this is certainly not the very best restaurant, but if you like to get an idea of classic Basque cuisine without any extra class and if you love BBQ and in particular meat then this is the right place. As you can see at their webpage (http://www.guetaria.com/) they seldom change menu. The chefs there are without ambitions but solid craftsmen.