Monday, 21 June 2010

San Sebastian pintxos

After a few days exploring Bilbao, we headed out east to spend some time in San Sebastian. San Sebastian has been getting  lot of press over the last few years and hailed as one of the "must-go" foodie destinations. Unfortunately, I too bought into this hype and arrived into the city with unrealistically high expectations that each of my meals would be a culinary experience. We arrived into town on a Sunday afternoon and after much hmmming and ahhhing, settled on a bar in the Old Town called Bar La Cepa for dinner. The food was terrible (no photos) and it wasn't cheap either......I found out afterwards that a fellow food blogger had run into Ferran Adrià and his wife popping in for a bite to eat here!!! In fariness, the bar is best known for their jamon and good range of mushroom pintxos, neither of which we ordered...... am still perplexed at the difference in quality between the pintxos at the bar and the food being served in the restaurant - surely, it is all made in the same kitchen??

Anyhoo, you'll be pleased to know that we did find a few good places to sample pintxos that had good food, were almost smoke-free with a relaxed atmosphere with no need to jostle for space at the bar (how old and grumpy are me and JD???!!!). Our first good place was a bar in the Gros area called Casa Senra. Its a bit out of the way but we think its worth the trek with a wide range of pintxos by the bar but the stars were the pintxos that were being prepared "a la minute "straight out of the kitchen".....yum! Our waiter behind the bar was also very helpful and attentive, always a good sign as we had found previously at Cafe Iruña in Bilbao!!
Tasty combo of jamon, aubergine, roasted red pepper and anchovy

Pan fried venison with apple

Roasted turbot

Homemade black pudding

The second place of note is just off the Plaza Constitucion called Astelena, the highlights of our meal being the hot pintxos being made from the kitchen (ordering these are a lot easier when the bar is not so busy hence our love of quiet places!):
View of the kitchen

View from the bar

Chorizo - small, tasty and perfectly formed

Some morsels of steak - yum!

Baby cuttlefish

Duck with chestnut puree and raspberry

The least successful dish - tuna.....which was overcooked :(

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