Some time ago, I visited Casa Garras to have lunch. It is located some 60 km southwest of Bilbao, and more than half of the route is twisty, narrow, and requires extra care. The low clouds and mist did not make the route easier. After such a challenging drive, I was wondering whether the place was worth it.
The entrance leads you to the bar, where you can have a drink and some pintxos (tapas in the Basque language). The restaurant is on the first floor. I arrived early, at 1345 hrs – by local standards – and had the opportunity to observe the customers settling in. I think I was the only foreigner in the restaurant. In addition to the families and couples, there were large groups of friends, mostly men, getting together to enjoy lunch. By 1500 hrs – the time locals usually have lunch on a Saturday – the place was packed solid.
The chef of the restaurant is Txema Llamosas, whose parents owned Casa Garras, has worked with some of the holy monsters of Basque and Catalan cuisine: Eneko Atxa (Azurmendi), Juan Maaari Arzak (Arzak), and Ferran Adria (elBulli), and returned to his parents’ restaurant in 2010. With his inspiration and the support of his wife Pilar, who is the somelier of the restaurant, Txema has managed to establish Casa Garras as a gastronomic jewel in the Valley of Carranza, one of the nicest and mostly unknown area of Vizkaya in the Basque Country.
I tasted the gastronomic menu on offer. and took a bottle of the locally produced txakoli wine (txakolina).
The somelier recommended Casa Garras’s brand “Petite”, and I obliged.
This foamy, hot, tasty broth made from ox’s tail started the meal. Its depth is unforgettable.
Soft cheese made from locally produced Idiazabal cheese, served with a butter brioche.
Extremely smooth and tasty! And it looked good too!
Marinated red tuna in its emulsion, ponzu soup, wakame seaweed and pearls of wasabi. The visible fusion of Basque cuisine with Japanese flavors.
White shrimp from Huelva on cod skin and mayonaise made from the stock of their heads and shells.
The shrimp comes from Huelva, a city in the southern region of Andalucia.
Glazed red tuna neck, avocado mousse, pickled purple onion and morcels of fried pigskin. I do not remember the sauce’s name, but it was delicious.
Hake double chins cooked the pil pil way, with organic olive oil.
I absolutely love “kokotxas” (the double chin of the fish) and I can only find them in Spain and the Basque country!
Stuffed squid, fried legs, and sauce made from its ink. The squid is stuffed with finely chopped legs.
Egg yolk on carbonara cream, cured pig’s jowl and idiazabal cheese crisp.
Grilled hake on a cauliflower emulsion.
Rib steak of Karrantza beef, served with morcels of its fat.
This is one of the best steaks I have ever eaten! It melts in your mouth, and it unbelievably tasty!
The desert was based on panacotta, and it was nice, but nothing compared to the avoury dishes. It is clear that Chef Llamosas prefers savoury!