Hondarribia, Spain

Abarka Jatetxea

12th February 2018

Hondarribia is just the little Basque town that keeps giving and giving… You know that feeling when you’re having such great food that it gets you high as f*ck? (Yes, we get high from amazing eats!) Well, this second restaurant I’ve discovered here in Hondarribia is exactly the kind of place that will surge your entire body with “food endorphins”!

Abarka Jatetxea is located in a residential area and it was once a traditional farmhouse which explains it’s colossal size! To get inside, you’ll have to walk through the exterior dining area to get to the ambiguous front door. The interior of Abarka Jatetxea is cosy with heaps of wood ceiling beams and pops of colours everywhere. The dining hall is huge yet intimate at the same time; we were seated in the small upstairs area which gave us some privacy.

We were offered an aperitif on the house which was champagne with a touch of peach syrup: Refreshing! Our server, Ainhoa (pronounced as I-know-ya) was the loveliest and warmest lady; she kept trying her very best in English to explain the menu and any of our questions (OooOoh what’s in this sauce? What does lubina mean?).

An English menu was given to us and after some arduous decision making, we decided to start with the homemade semi-cooked foie gras that came with a medley of cooked pineapple, lime & vanilla and cornbread toast, their classic puff pastry filled with leeks, mushrooms and prawns, and a tomato salad with onion and tuna that we had seen our next door table order.

Luckily Ainhoa was quick to warn us that it’d be wise to get the half portions of each appetizer since we had indeed ordered quite a lot. Half portions are not shown as an option on the menu but you could kindly ask their servers upon ordering.

Before any of our appetizers had arrived, we received two bowls of complimentary chicken soup. Oh gosh, I LOVE soups and a good chicken soup is a sure-winner for me. I could have drunk this chicken soup in bowls and bowls and bowls. The meat was tender and delicious, there were some chickpeas and carrots as well.  Two thumbs up!

Originally, we had wanted to order the blue lobster salad with lettuce, tomatoes, vinaigrette & seasonal herbs but changed our mind upon seeing how good the tomato salad with tuna looked from our next door neighbour’s table! A very unlikely combination of tomatoes, tuna, onions, and hard boiled eggs but it tasted oh-so-wonderful! The tomatoes were so fresh, we could taste the high quality of the olive oil (wow!), the tuna worked great with everything and the small piece of pickle was delish. By the time we had finished everything on the serving plate, we soaked the remaining olive oil with bread till it was all gone 😁

Okay soooooooo the homemade semi-cooked foie gras that came with a medley of cooked pineapple, lime & vanilla and cornbread toast: HOLY MOLY!! The mi-cuit foie gras was creamy and smooth like velvet, the pineapple, lime and vanilla jam was mind-blowing and the corn toast had the perfecttttt bite to it (Read: Wasn’t too hard that it cut our tongues. Score!). Put all of those together and you have the best party of three happening in your mouth!

Our last appetiser was the puff pastry filled with leeks, mushrooms and prawns accompanied by a carrot and garlic sauce. Once the puff pastry was in my mouth, my eyes closed for a brief and very appreciative, *magical* moment. It was a symphony of buttery, leeky, heaven. No words could do this justice. No words. How does pastry melt in your mouth so wonderfully while at the same time weaving in a heavenly trail of butter and creamy leeks that make you want to freeze time in that exact moment so you can savour it forever and ever?? All I know is that we have Chef Natxo Garcia to thank!

Thankfully, we heeded Ainhoa’s advice on the half portions cos by the time we finished our puff pastry, we were getting full alright!

Our main was the fish of the day for two people, grilled sea bass with garlic and olive oil, and a small portion of potatoes. Chef Natxo had been making his rounds to all the tables and for our main, he brought over our dishes after halving the sea bass for us. You can tell he is deeply passionate about making sure everything is perfect for his clients and his dynamic energy flows throughout the dining hall! He was so kind to bring around a plate of sliced panadera potatoes (cooked with onions, olive oil, chicken stock and thyme) for us on the house (They didn’t know I was a food blogger till the end of our meal). The sea bass was grilled on charcoal, topped off with good quality olive oil and fried garlic. Man oh man, how I wish I could have this dish again right now this second. The fish was cooked to perfection and was ridiculously fresh. The small portions of potatoes were insanely flavourful and a bit minty/ever so slightly citrusy which went really well with the fish. The panadera potatoes were more sweet from the onions but just as flavourful! Gotta love an establishment that knows how to cook fantastic potatoes! For 50 euros, this dish was a steal.

By the time we had finished our sea bass and all the potatoes, Ainhoa came around and asked if we wanted any dessert which I promptly responded with an immediate YES. The caramelized french toast with condensed milk ice cream sounded too good to pass up so we had to get it! The french toast itself was airy and light, almost like a crème brûlée in bread form; complimented by the rich, creaminess of the condensed milk ice cream. Muy delicioso!

The tarta templada de queso is a warm cheesecake which was served with a raspberry and violet sorbet. Once I broke into the cheesecake, ooey gooey warm cheese flooded on to the plate and into the sorbet. The cheesecake was slightly savoury and very rich but it was balanced out by the raspberry and violet sorbet. This tarta de queso is not everyone’s cup of tea especially if you’re used to a chilled cheesecake. I really enjoyed the pronounced violet flavours that were in the sorbet! My first time having a violet-infused sorbet and I can definitely say it was a winner!

After dessert, every table was offered a piece of homemade chocolate truffle. Rich, smooth and creamy, need I say more?

    

I was in desperate need for some help to digest my big lunch so a little chupito (shot) was in order! A tall shot of orujo was brought to the table and boy was it strong. Traditionally, orujo was made by the people of Galicia, Northwestern Spain. Orujo is a clear liquor mainly made from the residue of wine production and has an alcohol content between 37% to 45%, hah!

    

Before taking some shots of the dining hall, I kindly asked the server if it would be an issue and upon returning from the kitchen, she said it wasn’t a problem at all and Chef Natxo even invited me to head into the kitchen for a peak.

All I can say is that we left on a food high with our bellies more than full plus a warm feeling of being cocooned and welcomed into the “home” of Chef Natxo and his talented team. If you are ever in Hondarribia, Spain, Abarka Jatetxea really is a must… I cannot recommend it highly enough. A culinary experience that will leave your taste buds in awe with fuzzy feelings all around 🌟

 

 

May The Pinchables Be With You,

       Lili


Location: Baserritar Etorbidea, 36, 20280 Hondarribia, Spain.

Website: http://www.restabarka.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Abarka-Jatetxea-458955144151386/

Hours:

Monday: CLOSED

Tuesday to Saturday: 1pm – 3pm // 8pm – 10:30pm

Sunday : 1pm to 3pm

Tip: Email to make reservations if you don’t speak Spanish and they will promptly reply

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