Monday, March 7, 2011

Bodegon Alejandro in San Sebastian Review - Rooted in Basque Traditions

Our train arrived in San Sebastian at 9:45pm Saturday night and we managed to check into our Pension and walk over to Bodegon Alejandro Restaurante just a few blocks away in Parte Vieja on Fermin Calbeton in time for our 10:00pm reservation (ok, so we were actually 10 minutes late, but they were really nice about it).  Bodegon Alejandro is a more traditional Basque restaurant, with a focus on using the freshest local ingredients.  When planning the food itinerary on this trip, I made a special point to mix up modern and traditional food, formal sit-down meals as well as wandering tapas crawls. The restaurant is located down a flight of stairs in a warm and cozy, simply decorated room.  The food and experience was exceptional; it was definitely one of my favorite meals of my trip.  It was warm, comforting food; every leisurely, savory bite was so delicious and simply made me happy.  It was one of the most well-balanced meals I've ever had; I felt that each plate had a good balance of flavors, textures and acid.  The perfect meal after a long day of travel.  Service was sweet, friendly and helpful.  We opted for the 38 euro Menu Degustacion; an outstanding value, probably the best "value" meal of the trip.  With a bottle of wine from the nearby Rioja region, we got out of there for 100 euros.  I believe that the restaurant is associated with local 3 michelin starred Martin Berasetegui, but the most important thing to me was the straightforwardly wonderful food.  In my haste, I forgot my camera (!), so thanks to Z for the pics.
Pumpkin soup amuse: so perfectly warm and comforting! It was very silky, not at all thick, grainy or dense
Ensalada templada de txangurro, con vinagreta de tomate del país.: this spider crab and tomato salad was so light and refreshing! Fresh salads are rare while traveling
Tomatito de mata relleno de chipirón, asado en su jugo sobre arroz cremoso de sus tintas y queso de Carranza: one of my favorite dishes of the trip.  For me, the combination of squid and baby tomato was new and delicious. The acid and freshness from the tomato juices offset the wonderfully creamy and rich squid ink and Carranza cheese rice.
Lomo de merluza asado con patata rota y vinagreta de cítricos: perfectly cooked flaky white Hake fish.  I loved the acid from the citrus vinaigrette; made you want more and more of the dish
Carrillera de ternera cocinada a baja temperatura con jugo de pimientos asados y terrina de patata y bacon: the warm roasted pepper sauce sauce of this dish was delicately wonderful.  I liked this dish a lot; I was craving something meat-y, although Z didn't like the veal cheek that much.  It was a little stringy but I didn't mind the texture
Torrija empapada en nata fresca y yemas de huevo, tostada y caramelizada en la sartén, con helado de queso fresco: this dish was yummy. The French toast soaked in cream and egg yolk had a slight sugary crunch to it to go well with the rich ice cream
Infusión de piña con helado de coco, chocolate y granizado de ron.  I loved this dessert; possibly my all-time favorite dessert. I'm actually not a dessert person, but this was impossibly refreshing and indulgent all at the same time.  I loved the frosty cold ice and rum against the paper thin dark chocolate and pool of coconut ice cream on the bottom.  It was just so good! Another dish that I can vividly remember tasting days later.
The perfect nightcap, some sort of malted milk liqueur shot with tasty mini muffins
I'm not sure how we managed to hit up a bar in Parte Vieja after this amazing meal, but when in Spain...

Bodegon Alejandro (reservations can be made online)
C/ Fermín Calbetón, nº 4
San Sebastian (Donostia)

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