By Lu Sobredo
Gastronomy and Spain have become synonymous. Writing this photo essay makes me think of scrumptious meals. My mouth is literally watering with great longing to return.
|River Urumea under the Full Moon in San Sebastián, Spain. ©James Sobredo|
|Churros Con Chocolate, ©Lu Sobredo|
|Menu Selection: Winter 2018, ©Lu Sobredo|
|Main Course: Roast Pork Knuckle, ©Lu Sobredo|
The food selection was exquisite and at reasonable prices. The service staff were friendly. We returned more times for lunch (hours open: 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.), and dinner (hours open: 8:30 p.m. - 12:00 a.m). Menu-del-dia for lunch was €11 per person. Dinner at €40 for three was delicious and filling. A €70 dinner, ordered family style for three when we splurged, was out of this world. And the staff kept telling us, if there’s any menu item that was not cooked to our liking or expectation, the chef could prepare something else at no additional charge. The total cost depended on what menu items you ordered. My husband and our son shared a bottle of wine and a couple of appetizers in addition to the main course. When too satiated, we shared a dessert. Otherwise, when not too full and feeling like splurging, we each ordered a dessert. We return to dine each time when in Madrid—my husband did in the summer of 2017, and as we did in winter 2018. Some of the the same wait staff were still working there and remembered us fondly.
|Zabal Kafetak is Behind the Trees Across the Festive Park. ©Lu Sobredo|
|Our Delicious Choices for Breakfast. ©Lu Sobredo|
You can have a light delectable treat with coffee or as many pastries from their selection. An array of croissant, brioche and other pastries—a feast for the eyes and palate! We also tend to purchase treats to be consumed later in the day—maybe while sitting on a bench at a park or at the promenade while people-watching by the La Concha Beach. Prices are reasonable. We got carried away one time with our extensive selection, and still only paid less than €20.
|Sign By the Door of the Restaurant. ©Lu Sobredo|
|Garden at the Royal Palace Complex. ©Lu Sobredo|
Here’s what I wrote in the previous blog post: Our friends go-to Michelin restaurant was being refurbished during our 2016 summer visit. For the next best thing, a Michelin chef and cafe owner recommended an alternative—LA CARÊME. La Carême Restaurante was a recognized Michelin Star restaurant in 2007 and 2015. Having a meal there was special. My palate was in seventh heaven. Located in one of the wings of the historic Royal Palace complex, it overlooks the elegant water fountain surrounded by an expansive meticulously-cared-for flower garden. During summer months when dining, one is refreshed by periodic misting of the balcony. The outdoor balcony was where we chose to dine. Cost could vary from less than €50 - €100 per person. It is worth setting aside an amount to splurge on yourself.
|Menu for the Day. ©Lu Sobredo|
|Fig Sorbet with Caramelized Cream. ©Lu Sobredo|
Impressive too was the fact that there was one server for the whole restaurant, and one bar tender. The meals were served timely and yet the wait staff, Cesar took the time to get to know us. He looked to be in his early or mid-20s. We returned for additional meals during our stay, and he always greeted us by name. My favorite dish there was anything squid. My choice of dessert was tarta de manzanas (apple). Although the fig sorbet with caramelized cream (featured photo) was refreshing as well.
|Pinchos for Breakfast. ©Lu Sobredo|
|Pulpo (Octupos Dish) for Dinner. ©Lu Sobredo|
We returned for a light dinner of pulpo that night. The quality of the food was tops. Breakfast I shared with my husband was less than €10. A light dinner for two of two pinchos, one main course, a glass of wine and a dessert cost €30. We are not oyster consumers, but we understand KATA.4 OYSTER BAR is known for their vast selection of oysters, thus the name. After dinner, we took a short walk while the full moon lit up the promenade by the river. The light from the moon, the lamp post and the colorful lights donning the building across were too irresistible not to photograph. (See photo at the start of this essay).
|The Lunch Crowd at Espiga. ©Lu Sobredo|
|Our Corner at La Espiga. ©Lu Sobredo|
My husband and I were satisfied inching into a space by the side counter. Try it for lunch and/or dinner. Our choices of wine and four small plates of pinchos cost around €20. The food was as good as the locals say.
|View of La Taurina From Our Table. ©Lu Sobredo|
|James Befriending Staff. ©Lu Sobredo|
|Wine Flows Abundantly in Spain as Part of the Meal. ©Lu Sobredo|
|My Main Course: Squid in its Own Ink. ©Lu Sobredo|
1. NARRU (DONASTIA-SAN SEBASTIÁN)
This restaurant has earned the number one spot on my list. Located right off the lobby of Hotel Niza, NARRU is my number one choice of restaurants in Spain. Influenced by my husband James Sobredo’s first time at Narru in the summer of 2017, the place was all he said it was. Since we are drawn to the water, it comes as no surprise that this restaurant has a view of the La Concha Bay.
|Finding Narru Restaurant. ©James Sobredo|
|Bacalao Dish: My Main Course. ©James Sobredo|
Highly recommended by our Spanish family and other close friends who are long-term residents of Donastia-San Sebastián, Narru is indeed representative of new Basque cooking. Be prepared to spend around €100 or less for two, depending on what you order for dinner. Allow yourself to be pampered by professional & caring staff. They do their best to elegantly serve the gastronomic vision of a celebrated young chef. Narru boasts a creative young Chef, Iñigo Peña (now 28), who at the age of 16 trained under the best, Chef Juan Mari Arzak, known as the father of new Basque cuisine. Yes, of the famed Restaurante Arzak, aptly named after the master. Find out more about the young chef: http://narru.es/en/chef/. Chef Peña was also named in the top ten young European chefs. (http://www.gastroenophile.com/2010/11/top-10-young-european-chefs.html).
See an earlier blog post singly showcasing Narru: High End Spanish Food: Affordable Dining at Narru.
|Mother & Son at Cafe Prado. ©James Sobredo|
When in Madrid we visit the Prado Museum or Reina Sofia Museum. It has become a family ritual. The Prado Museum’s appeal outside of the amazing art works of the Masters is their Museum Cafe. Its cafeteria-like dining set-up is charming. Food is beautifully displayed. The delicious choices could easily make for a multi-course meal: appetizers/starters, main dishes to desserts and coffee drinks. Pay close attention to the prices displayed for each item or your bill could run high. It is too easy to be tempted by the aroma and the attractive presentation. It is definitely a recommended stop for a late lunch. Then, take a tour of the museum to walk off the calories. Just remember, the museum is expansive and there is so much to take in. It might take a couple of visits. Or as we have personally done, each time we travel to Madrid, we focus on certain wings of the PRADO, one which features specific artists, artistic period or historical timeline.
And to dear friends Dr. Thierry and Alicia Juteau for being so welcoming and helping us feel at home in Donastia-San Sebastián.
About the Author
Lu Sobredo is writer/publisher at Lu Travels Abroad, a blog dedicated to folks whose limitations do not hamper them from traveling. About a year into early retirement came the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Her world collapsed from under her as the disability rendered her nearly-immobile and wheelchair-bound for almost three years. Her family's life changed. Her total life changed, but she did not let RA define her. With much will & love from family, friends and an awesome doctor, she regained some functionality--her new normal. She will have RA all her life. And she now writes about life and travel with RA.