Bilbao – Azurmendi

This restaurant is located in Biscay, somewhere off Bilbao city, along the highway leading to Bilbao Airport. When I first heard about the concept of this place, I decided I must add Bilbao to my itinerary even though I was otherwise not so interested in this city

Azurmendi is not just a restaurant. It was founded with the agenda of sustainability.

The Azurmendi Restaurant has committed to sustainability since its beginnings. With assistance from the architect Naia Eguino (Bermeo, Biscay 1976), we decided to create a space where the building was surrounded by nature. In order to obtain this sustainability, we worked with the most advanced techniques: water accumulators, solar gain in the glass roofs, radiant geothermal heating, photovoltaic installations, plant drainage, use of recycled materials, power outlets for electric cars, etc. These are just a few of the pioneering techniques for energy efficiency that make Azurmendi asustainable and bioclimatic space.

We are also committed to local suppliers and products. We cooperate with a research centre to recover lost varieties of local vegetables.

All this makes Azurmendi one of the most unique sustainable buildings in our current architecture, as well as the first sustainable restaurant in the Iberian Peninsula, and thus we were recognised with the prize for Most Sustainable Restaurant in the World, awarded by the magazine, World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Read more about their philosophy here. I like how they really get into the technical details by working with their building from the beginning and not just try to be sustainable by pledging it.

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Steps leading up to the restaurant. It was steep and quite scary a climb, without railings of any sort.

The restaurant is really built in the middle of no where. There’s no similar buildings like this and I like this middle of nowhere-ness.

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Upon entering, you don’t get straight to the meal.

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You will first get to have a ‘picnic’ in the waiting area with a picnic basket and sparking wine.

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Picnic basket with gingham cloth, no less.

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The next step would be a tour of their kitchen. The kitchen was very big with many chefs at work, all at their designated stations.

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The next canapé was served here.

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Looks like a Christmas tree decoration.

 

The third and final stop before getting to the dining area wouldP1200577 (900x675) be this mini greenhouse, supposedly a preview to the real greenhouse located on their rooftop. Canapés were served here as well.

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Corn soup

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Not cotton (I love those cotton plants in the back by the way. So pretty!).

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Mushroom flavoured “leaf”.

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Finally seated and the view was so calming. This view is facing the highway and on the other side it was pretty much rural, with sparse housing and nothing much other than green hills and blue skies. This is near Bilbao Airport so planes are spotted frequently.

There were two menus to choose from – creative menu Adarrak for €175 and classic menu Erroak for €145. I went for the creative course.

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Frozen olive and vermouth 

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Egg from our hens, cooked inside out and truffled 

Have it in one mouth

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Their bread is not the usual crusty bread.

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Oysters, tartar and seaweed traces 

That huge oyster. So good. And it’s been a long time since I last had oyster leaf! That green leaf in the middle is named oyster lead because it tastes a lot like oysters.

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Sea urchin, emulsion, juice and waffle

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Peas and roe

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Roasted lobster out of the shell, its crunch and mayonnaise 

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Slightly spicy fried suckling pig and 3 Basque cheeses in three textures

The 3 textures are liquid (those balls will burst), creamy (the rods) and dried. I wasn’t a fan of the liquid one. It was kind of like liquid yogurt.

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Cod tripe, chickpeas and herb potatoes

Cod tripe is not something I commonly see. Surprisingly it’s good. I’m not usually a fan of innards!

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Monkfish in Iberian crust, artichokes and basil

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Pigeon, green beans and deuxelle

I am not used to eating little birds like pigeon and did not really have memorable experience of it. I thought I’ll just take a taste of it and leave it but before I knew it, I ate the whole thing – and I was already super stuffed from all the previous courses! The texture and taste was non-typical pigeon. It was almost like having beef, but with the texture of semi crispy skin. So good.

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Pineapple, cardamom and celery

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Yogurt, honey and five spices

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Chocolate, peanut and licorice

The desserts were creative but taste wise, not the best. Somehow I feel that desserts in Spain aren’t of the best quality, like the chocolate isn’t rich enough and too sweet.

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Petite fours

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They grow their own grapes for wine too.

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Plane watching made my lunch experience better.

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Chef Eneko Atxa personally greeted us as we left. How humble! I was lucky to spot him here. He’s recently opened a new restaurant in London – Eneko at One Aldwych. A way more convenient place to try his food if Bilbao is out of the way.

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I truly loved this experience a lot. The meal itself was wonderful but the whole concept of this place just makes it better. Truly worth 3 Michelin stars by the definition “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey“.

Azurmendi
Legina Auz., s/n, 48195 Larrabetzu, Bizkaia, Spain

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