La Vieja, like its neigbouring barrio San Francisco, also hugs the south bank of the river. It’s Bilbao’s oldest neighbourhood (founded 1300), even older than the Casco Antiguo on the other side of the river. Map here.
La Mina (Advanced A-), Muella Mariana (no number), www.restaurantemina.es
This was the hottest restaurant in town on my trip in 2016. There was once a mine nearby, hence the name.
I had the Menu Degustacion for €60 with an added wine matching for €35. The food was beautiful but I was slightly disappointed by the wines. They were okay but nothing out of this world.
I had a Negroni while I was reading the menu (B). It was made with a new vermouth to me, from Casa Pardet.
The service was really good. I quickly made friends with the sommelier, Alex from Murcia, and spent so much time talking to him that I didn’t get to grade the food and some of the wines, sorry!
An amuse bouche of some description.
My first wine was a pure Verdejo called ‘La Banda del Agrilico’, which scores 92 Parker points.
This baked fennel looked amazing.
Alex believes ‘La Panesa’ Especial Fino Sherry from Bodega Emilio Hidalgo is one of the best. I liked it too (B+). It’s one of the oldest finos on the market with an average age of 15 years, so bottles retail at £20 and over.
The oyster with roes and flowers was visually stunning.
Next Alex gave me a glass of French Basque white called ‘Cuvee Hegoxuri’, from Domaine Arretxea in Irouleguy (B).
Next some baby broad beans in a broth. Nurea did something similar (see Guggenheim post).
To drink, a wine called ‘Makila’ 2012, in a very plain bottle, suggesting artisanal production. Alex said it was made in a similar way to orange wine (B).
Langoustine or cigala I would hazard.
Moving on to red; a Côtes-du-Rhône from Domaine Charvin (B).
Scallops I reckon.
‘Malus Mama’ a naturally sweet cider from Astigarragako Sagarrak.
Roast pork I think.
A sorbet cleanser.
Then a glass of sweet ‘Recóndita Armonía’, a 10 year old Monastrell Dulce from Bodegas Gutierrez de la Vega in Alicante.
Brownie with a chocolate lattice I think.
I recall their brandies as being a bit pricey so I went for the cheaper ‘Fernando de Castilla’ from Jerez (B).
A good experience worth the three figure price tag. I’d score it B+ overall.