We had a big night on the schedule this week as Hound #2 had a birthday on the cards, so we needed to up our dining adventures a notch so hey, why not go all the way to the top? Which is exactly what we did – booked a table for 2 at the 1 starred Michelin joint here in Hondarribia, Restaurant Alameda. We are truly spoiled for choice in Hondarribia and surrounds as this New York Times article (Alameda gets a mention) so aptly pointed out with the title “A Dining Explosion in a tiny Basque Town”. From low to high, small to big, cheap as chips to most dear, we have it covered here – pintxos to raciones to bocadillas and our most beloved – menu del día.
The Hounds are not generally inclined to take the fancy or poncy route – been there, done that. The too luxurious decor, the horde of service staff, the über trends like foam and liquid nitrogen and of course, the price have sent us in a different direction. We prefer, 99% of the time, good quality ingredients cooked well and in relaxed & joyful environment. But hey, this was a birthday so ponce it was….
We kicked off our meal with a free amuse-bouche platter – 2 bamboo bowlets with a most delicious pumpkin soup & fennel foam (Hound #2 declared it her favourite bit of the meal – could have stopped there & saved some dosh). Also on offer were 2 chocolate foie gras bars on a bed of salt. Not to Hound #2’s liking, but she gave it a go & consumed half -always an interesting taste sensation with the mix of sweet & savoury – you get that infamous ‘umami’ thing happening.
Ah, the wine of the night…the carta de vino was extensive and it goes without saying that it leaned toward the high side. But a few minutes of perusal took me to one of my current fave areas of exploration – Bierzo and the Mencia grape. This little beauty, Flor de Brezo by Gregory Perez (a Frenchman no less), was from Bodegas Mengoba. An excellent drop on its own but perfecto with our food…would drink again.
Hound #2 took a wee bit of a gamble with her starter as crustaceans of the shrimp family are not always welcome down her gullet but she hopped outside of her comfort zone and took delivery of the langoustines….with foam. The plate was cleaned and no repercussions to report…
I went sort of ‘vego’ (a nip of bacon for flavour) and placed an order for the artichoke confit…with foam. I would have to give it a solid 2 thumbs up – a dish I do not believe I could make at home and exceptionally tasty.
We went all “matchy, matchy” with our mains and both ordered the solomillo de vaca – sirloin steak. A damn decent specimen of beef cooked to perfection with a most savoury sauce and a bit of the ever-present potato that was creatively cooked – a mini version of Pommes Anna. And as Hound #2 likes to point out – the Spanish are none too big on their veggies, so a mini-me side salad was as far as we got…
And of course, being a birthday something sweet had to be consumed. The kitchen was very sweet and sent out an excellent rendition of a cheesecake slice replete with a candle (hint – she’s older than that) but this piece of chocolate from the dark side checked all the boxes…and the passion fruit ice cream not too bad either.
So that’s ponce done for another year…but if you ever make it to Hondarribia and feel like a splurge, then Alameda is your ticket. Summer months would be perfecto as they have an outdoor dining terrace to make the experience complete.