Nerua restaurant, there is also art in the Guggenheim kitchen
A week ago I had the pleasure of having dinner at the Nerua restaurant at the Guggenheim in Bilbao together with other gastronomic bloggers thanks to an invitation from Fagor Industrial, which has been the company in charge of the kitchen.
That little detail allowed us not only to enjoy the creations of chef Josean Martínez Alija, but we also got to chat with him and learn about his way of understanding restoration, which has a lot to do with the peculiar design of the kitchen.
As I said, the restaurant is located within the museum itself, and its decoration follows a style similar to that of the building, with its curved lines and warped surfaces. Another peculiarity is that the kitchen, at the express request of the chef, is almost entirely open to the public; something unusual and that allows you to see how the dishes are prepared from the bar, where you can eat if you want.
Chatting with Josean Martínez Alija
Before dinner, chef Josean Martínez Alija was talking to us about his way of understanding gastronomy and the reasons that had led him to open his kitchen to the diner, as well as the decisions he had made in terms of equipment to adapt it to his liking .
I really liked that you think that kitchens and chefs should not hide from the customer. He does not share the idea that it is magic between stoves and tricks should be preserved, but he considers that watching cooking is something that is part of the meal, something that we already did as children watching our mothers bustle between pans before enjoying what came out of them.
I was a bit surprised that he stated that he had chosen an induction hob over a gas stove, but he assured that given his way of cooking, he preferred the precision of induction to the power of the fire. The contained size of the kitchen also caught my eye, but it makes sense when you look at the dining room, which has been designed not to accommodate too many diners.
The terrace of the Nerua restaurant
After the chat, we went up to the wonderful terrace with views of the restaurant, where we enjoyed a small aperitif while watching a magnificent sunset.
The cherry and elderflower wine they served us quickly disappeared from our hands after the intense visit to the museum and kitchen. Still, we could appreciate its fruity flavor and fine bubbles as we began to taste some of the delicacies that passed before us.
In total there were three: cod rinds with paprika from la vera, black olive oreos and Idiazabal and bilbaina shrimp. Each one was special in its own way, although perhaps the olive cookies will remain in my memory for longer because of their texture and flavor, intense and full of nuances, with hints of tapenade.
Now that we have finished with the aperitif, it's time to go down to the dining room again to enjoy dinner, a very complete tasting menu from which I will describe the dishes that most impacted me.
To start with, a plate of tomatoes in a herb sauce, where each tomato was different and brought a unique cast of flavors, many of which were reminiscent of many Italian sauces. It was interesting to enjoy each tomato knowing that the next one was not going to taste the same. The ephemerality of the experience made you appreciate every nuance.
After the tomatoes came roasted aubergine strands with "makil goxo" that I don't remember anything special about. It's not that they weren't tasty, but they languished after the explosion of flavor that was each little tomato.
Once the starters were finished, it was the moment that for me was the star dish, although not all the diners shared the same opinion with me. It was a tuna loin on a Ballobar garlic and caper broth with lemongrass that was delicious.
Well browned on the outside and practically raw on the inside, it offered a range of flavors and textures that I have rarely been able to enjoy in a fish as delicate to prepare as tuna. The capers and lemon accompanied perfectly.
The last course was a grilled foie gras which, while equally delicious, was not as flashy and captivating. The dessert, strawberries under a crisp of violets, gently closed an evening of flavors at the Nerua restaurant, proving that there is also art in the Guggenheim kitchen.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Tel. 94 4000 430
See complete gallery »Nerua restaurant, there is also art in the Guggenheim kitchen (14 photos)
More information | Nerua Restaurant Directly to the Paladar | Olentzo Restaurant, in Zizurkil, Gipuzkoa Directly to the Paladar | Tapas in the restaurants of Millesime Weekend Valencia
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