We recently returned from a late October trip to Barcelona and Bilbao, where we dined at five very good restaurants – Sant Pau, Extanobe (Bilbao), Azurmendi, Lasarte and Alkimia. I’ll post a more detailed write-up on each one separately, especially the ones that haven’t been covered much here on Chowhound like Lasarte, Extanobe and Azurmendi.
I’ve already thanked all the Chowhound posters who helped me plan this trip so I’ll just say thanks again to all of you – you know who you are.
The short version is that we had no bad meals at any of these restaurants. The least successful courses were OK and most dishes were pretty solid to excellent, with a few truly exceptional plates, mainly at Azurmendi.
Some observations and tips:
1) Seafood is incredibly fresh and varied, and for the most part expertly and creatively cooked. Also, mushrooms were in season – so at this time of year ordering almost anything with seafood and/or mushrooms proved to be a solid bet.
2) Wine is much less expensive than in the USA. Lengthy wine pairings at three restaurants ranged from 40-50 euros so we indulged fully.
3) I thought we’d see more ‘Modern’ or molecular techniques than we actually experienced, especially at Alkimia. Not that I’m complaining, it’s just not what I expected.
Some rankings, keeping in mind that we judged all five meals to be pretty good.
My wife’s rankings for ‘Best Food’
1) Azurmendi (not even close)
2) Etxanobe (she had different courses here than me)
3) Alkimia (ditto on the different courses)
5) Sant Pau
My ‘Best Food’ rankings:
3) Sant Pau
Best overall ‘Dining Experience’, taking everything (food, wine, service, ambiance) into account
3) Sant Pau
More details in the next few days as I have time.