Asturias – Gijón

Gijón is a port town on the coast of Asturias in the north of Spain. It’s something of a resort as well despite its Atlantic climate. I loved it, both for its gastronomy and its architecture, much of which is Art Nouveau and Art Deco, two of my favourite periods.

A good book to take on your trip would be The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham in which Gijón features occasionally; “During the day the wind dropped. In the afternoon a fog came up, by the evening it was thick, and visibility down to no more than a few yards. Somewhere about ten thirty in the evening the sea-tanks came sliding up from the quietly lapping waters at Gijón, with not a sound to betray them until their metal bellies started to crunch up the stone ramps. The few small boats that were already drawn up there they pushed aside or crushed as they came. It was the cracking of the timbers that brought men out from the waterside posadas to investigate.”

I stayed at the Hotel Alcomar www.hotelalcomar.com, an Art Deco three star facing the seafront.

My room had an excellent view of San Lorenzo beach.

Over to the left I could see Cimavilla, the small peninsula where the old town is located. I’ve given Cimavilla two posts of its own; ‘Walking Around’ and ‘Eating’.

On the other side of Cimavilla is the marina and the port.

The neighbourhood behind the hotel is known as the Centro, the central business district, which I’ve given three posts; ‘Eating’, ‘Drinking Cocktails’ and ‘Architecture’.

You’ll find everything on this map.

Included below are two restaurants which are slightly out of the central areas and so don’t fit into any of the other posts.

La Pondala (Advanced A), 58 Avenida de Dionisio Cifuentes, www.lapondala.com

Located east of the centre, in Somió, this is an excellent restaurant and one of my top recommendations in Gijón. It has been run by the same family for over 125 years and they definitely know what they’re doing. Fodor’s guide also gives it top marks.

Fortuitously it was also very near the school I was working at so I could come for lunch with two of the teachers. I was really looking forward to it after hearing their headmistress raving about the lamb she ate here.

The old interior was a little gloomy for a summer’s day so we sat outside on the lovely terrace at the back. It was very much in demand but fortunately my colleagues had reserved, which is probably a good thing to do generally.

We started with a platter of excellent grilled veg (A)…

..followed by some Crepes de Centollo, or crab pancakes, also very good (B+).

For my main, the roast suckling lamb completely deserved the accolades the headmistress had given it (A).

I didn’t drink as I was working that afternoon but I’m sure they must have a great selection.

So a definite thumbs up from me then. It’s definitely worth the short drive from the centre.

Los Pisones (Intermediate B+), 5 Calle Jesús Revuelta Diego, www.restaurantelospisones.com

This modern place, over the road the football stadium, was also recommended by my teacher pals as a good place for seafood.

At first I wasn’t keen on the kitsch modern decor, think faux Trencadís (Gaudiesque broken ceramic tiling) and lots of big gilt mirrors, but they do have a nice terrace if you want to sit outside. The soundtrack of  breathy jazz was quite relaxing though.

After some negotiation I was allowed to have a media racion of Gambas a la Plancha which were sadly a bit mediocre (B-).

However the dish I’d come for, the Fabes a Los Pisones con Mariscos del Cantabrico, was much better (B+).

It’s a stew of the local white beans from the Villaviciosa DO and seafood from the Cantabrian coast, namely clams, crayfish, prawns…

…and three kinds of crab; centollo, necora and buey de mar, or in English (I think); spider, small and big ones.

The food went really well with an excellent bottle of Albarino called Bagoa do Mino (A+) which was the best on their list at €20.

With a couple of complimentary shots the total cost came to €55. So not my favourite place, but definitely worth a visit for this dish.

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