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Andy Fenn

Etxebarri

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There's a glowing (and informative) profile of Victor and Etxebarri in the forthcoming issue of Food&Wine, written by Anya von Bremzen: Victor Arguinzoniz: The Grilling Genius of Spain

The article explores Victor's evolution as a self-taught chef with some interesting info on his techniques and his biography (that he was a forester, for example-good background for someone who makes his own charcoal out of different woods!). This is by far the most conspicuous appearance by Etxebarri in the U.S. mainstream food press that I have seen. I'm happy that Victor is receiving the acclaim he so rightly deserves (much as he clearly loathes the attention), but (selfishly) I am a little nervous that Etxebarri could become a trendy "it" destination and it will be impossible to get a table!

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I think that, after the F&W article, the restaurant will be widely known...even more. However, it is difficult to get there and the food being served, I believe, will not attract the huge crowds as, for example, elBulli does.

Again, I think he is a genius and the "flan de queso fresco" has been the best dessert I have ever had. And I lived for seven years in Paris. However, I can live without the chorizo and the butter dish.


Edited by Lenski (log)

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I think that, after the F&W article, the restaurant will be widely known...even more.  However, it is difficult to get there and the food being served, I believe, will not attract the huge crowds as, for example, elBulli does.

Again, I think he is a genius and the "flan de queso fresco" has been the best dessert I have ever had. And I lived for seven years in Paris.  However, I can live without the chorizo and the butter dish.

I think finding Etxebarri has just become much easier for English speaking visitors. There's now a website with an English language version, which has detailed instructions on how to find it. Unlike GPS directions, Etxebarri's description takes account of the interminable roadworks that add to the challenge. You can also make reservation requests from the website.

I had a different response to the bread and butter - I can still remember it from over a year ago as one of the most deliciously simple things I've ever eaten.

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A couple of questions;

Is there any way (eg bus) to get there from Bilbao without a car?

What prices are we talking about for a complete meal with wine and coffee?

Remind me what time lunch is in the Basque country?

Thanks

John


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Hello,

I do not think there is a way to get there from Bilbao without a car. I am sure it is easy to get from Bilbao to Durango, but then it might impossible to get from there to Etxebarri.

Prices will vary depending on what you order but I would budget E150 pp, or less. During my last visit in February, I think that it was significantly more expensive than six months before.

Lunch in Spain, 13:30pm to 15:00pm starting time, earlier during weekdays.

It is a great experience and a gorgeous setting. And it still has some of the best desserts I have ever had in my life.

L

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You could catch the local train to Durango and then (maybe) get a cab to Axpe... I don't think there is a local bus service to the town, but I could be wrong. Why don't you give the restaurant a call to see what they recommend (and report back!)?

I would adjust those lunch times back a bit to 2:00-3:30 (with 2:30-3:00 generally being the flash mob) and a bit later on weekends. At least here in Madrid most places are completely empty until at least 2:00. Northerners tend to eat dinner a bit earlier, but I haven't noticed earlier lunch times. It's usually not a great idea to visit restaurants outside of the normal mealtimes since things are either winding up or down.


Edited by butterfly (log)

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After reading other reviews we decided not to go for a tasting menu (€150, pre-printed in English and left on all the tourists tables)

We ordered a plate of Chorizo which was very good but I wouldn't rate it any higher than the Joselito Chorizo I had eaten earlier in the trip (which itself was beter than other joselito chorizo I had eaten). A single Cigala to share was exceptional and beautifully cooked. Without doubt the best Langoustine I have tasted. But so it should be, at €200/kg this single specimen came to an almighty €80.

The Prawns again were good but I can't say that they were that much better than others I have tried. The head juice ran stright out onto the plate so sucking the heads became a fruitless exercise.

The Beef was beautiful, great texture, good well hung flavour. The Accompanying salad was erratically salted, quite literally large clumps of salt, maybe 1/2 tsp at a time.

Had the flan so raved about above, nice but not exactly mindblowing.

Overall, interesting but not worth a special trip unless you are in the region IMO, I certainly wouldn't train and taxi it. As for difficult to find I'm not sure what the difficulty is? The instructions on the website are clear and tapping it into a GPS takes you straight there exactly as described on the website :huh:


Edited by Matthew Grant (log)

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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A couple of questions;

Is there any way (eg bus) to get there from Bilbao without a car?

What prices are we talking about for a complete meal with wine and coffee?

Remind me what time lunch is in the Basque country?

Thanks

John

Hi John,

A taxi from the Airport at Bilbao is 40-50 euro or you can catch a train from Bilbao to Durango where a bus goes to Mondragon via Axpe. The latter is painless and you get to enjoy Durango for a stretch of the legs. A lunch I had was around 80 euro including wine and went as follows

Wafer thin Speck

A bowl of vegetables, beetroot, fennel etc with an olive oil emulsion from the Arguinzoniz garden

A thick tranche of sea bass from what most of been a very large specimen

Smoked Ice Cream.

My instructions were simple. As I was eating there in the evening I wanted a light lunch with intense flavours. I regard this as one of the greatest lunchs I've ever had. I sat down to Lunch at 3.00pm.


Edited by augustine (log)

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I specifically asked for a vegetable dish when I was there last weekend and aside from peppers and a a green salad served with the steak there were none available. The tasting menu was also lacking a vegetable course. :hmmm:


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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thats too bad...why vegetables are too often limited to a garnish or as second place to the usual lineups of animal protein obsessed dishes, unsurprisingly resulting in heavy menus, is beyond me...if it were up to me, i would bias towards a delicately selected and cooked menu protagonised by the seasonal vegetable department, while maintaining the richness of few animal cuts. the same could be said for cereals, in particular wholegrains.

but that is only my personal perspective and choice...

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I specifically asked for a vegetable dish when I was there last weekend and aside from peppers and a a green salad served with the steak there were none available. The tasting menu was also lacking a vegetable course. :hmmm:

In someway agreeing partly with Matthew I have to say that without having had lunch there I would'nt have the same strength of feeling towards Extebarri.The three dishes which struck me as being unforgettable were the vegetable dish and seabass for lunch and the wonderful smoked Caviar in the evening. However as it stands over two meals it was a magnificent display of technique, sourcing and vocation.

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For some reason, whenever I thought of grill, I could only think of dry and overcooked meat from a barbecue and grilling seafood was totally a waste. But my visit in October re-defined what grill is all about to me.

gallery_57364_6449_1822.jpg

We were amazed by the smokiness and the freshness of the ingredient! That's what this restaurant is all about. For this type of cooking, there is no sauce or anything to hide an imperfect ingredient.

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It was hard to believe someone could grill such a delicate ingredient - a light smokiness was beautifully carried throughout.

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Nice charcoalness to this smoked butter!

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Grilled egg yolk is out of this world! It had smokiness even inside the egg yolk.

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Smoked ice cream! Shockingly delicious and again, it had a nice charcoal aroma!

We had a long chat with Chef Lennox from Australia and we are going back there this weekend for the caviar and baby eel.

See More Here


Edited by FDE (log)

Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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I had never seen (let alone eaten) the grilled egg yolk. I hope it is still on the menu a couple of months from now...

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I had never seen (let alone eaten) the grilled egg yolk.  I hope it is still on the menu a couple of months from now...

Yes, I am pretty sure it is always on their menu. Only seasonal ingredients, e.g. baby eel, are not available everyday.


Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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That will teach me to read the menu more often and not ask for whatever the chef wants....not that I have ever been disappointed at Etxebarri.

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How difficult is it to get a reservation? We're considering an early July visit.

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Very easy, just call ahead a couple days in advance.


Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"

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Marvelous. We will be making our reservation via the website...seems very convenient. Will report back...

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I made my reservation through the web site and they got back to me the next day. Very responsive.


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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I notice there's not been any posts for a long time on here - but the good news is, it's still an amazing experience.

I get the impression that not a lot has changed here over the years - but then why would it? It was a very memorable experience and one I would gladly do again and again.

The restaurant itself is in a wonderful setting - it's not the easiest place to find as others have mentioned and my satnav didn't seem to have a clue about the roads around there, but once you're in the vicinity it's easy enough.

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After sitting down we opted for the tasting menu - the menu itself is pretty big, and I expect if you dare you could add some extras.

First to arrive was the hand churned butter on toast with some mushrooms. The butter was very salty, but with the slight bitterness of the grilled toast it was wonderfully balanced

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Next up were sea barnacles - something i've never eaten before but wow. I ended up making quite a mess but it was certainly worth it!

The grilled palamos prawns made me wonder what people had been doing with prawns elsewhere. They must have been some of the juiciest, flavoursome prawns i've ever had. Again, the seasoning was generous, but spot on

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Grilled egg yolk followed with St George's mushroom, followed by some incredibly tender grilled peas

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Grilled anchovies had a wonderful smoky note, again seasoned perfectly

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Bacalao with grilled pepper is still on the menu, cooked perfectly like everything else

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The final savoury dish - Grilled beef on the bone. Some of the best beef I've ever had. As always the seasoning is brave but just right, complimenting the crust of the beef

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Wild fruit infusion with cheese ice cream was a refreshing dessert:

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Lastly, pane perdu with smoked milk ice cream. This reminded me of Heston Blumenthal's famous bacon and egg ice cream dish - unusual but good

046.jpg

It should certainly be on anyones list of places to visit, and I can't wait to get back!

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Lovely meal. The bacalao looks like fresh cod- is it dried and reconstituted as I think of the term or?

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