Unfortunately it seemed that this may only be the case part time. Bar after bar we visited only to find intriguing menus with Friday / Saturday across the front. There were plenty of standards available but the good stuff was tantalising just out of reach. With a sinking feeling we made our way out of the meandering streets of the old town and into the new. Our last ditch shot at finding a diamond.... and what a diamond we found.
Bitoque is young, jumping and everything good about old school pintxos bars while giving you everything that's good about modern Spanish cooking, and cooking that's good all through the week. The foods that follow are not a single night but an amalgamation of three nights work, not for lack of trying to find something else. Each night we set out to find a recommended place or just have look and see what we could find but each night we ended up back at Bitoque for some comfort for our disappointment.
Creamy potato and olive oil croquettes.
Crispy fried cheese salad with fruit gummies; warm gooey cheesy goodness, balsamic dressed salad leaves and qunice jellies all in just the right size portion for something so rich.
Patatas bravas; crispy potatos, spicy tomato. The only other place we had bravas cooked with as much care as here was Albert Adrias Inopia in Barcelona. Somthing so simple needs extra care to be good.
Salad of baby scallops and prawns; nothing was jump out amazing here, just a good salad.
Squid sausage; not really understanding all the menu but also wanting to try all of it we were presented with an inky black sausage of squid. After our intial "ok then" we gave it a try and were suprised at its deliciousness. The accopmaning creamy mash really made it.
A beet risotto is barbie pink, sweet and earthy, a puddle of melted mascarpone enrichens.
Foie with grilled asparagus and crouton.
Baby squid; more of the tinyest squidlings you'd ever see sitting atop finger size cylinders of pasta all masked with a jet blak ink sauce.
Beef cheek; a small nugget of unctious beef sat in a puddle of creamy mash. Comfort food at it's finest.
Costilla; this word we knew. A slab of pork rib meat braised to falling apart, green apple puree and a touch of jus. Tasty tasty tasty.
Pancetta con pina, ha we knew this one too and who doesn't like the retro stylings of a ham and pineapple pizza? In this case no pizza but a good whack of pancetta and a pool of pineapple puree to throw you back to childhood.
And with that we had tried it all, The menu from A to Y. ..... Z? Well ok we did manage a little something sweet once or twice.
The chocolate browine with caramel ice cream was divine, but the inverse cheesecake was the one to steal the show. The rich silky smooth spoonful of slightly citrusy cheesecake scattered with cookie base crumbs. So hard to not order another three or four.
With so much to do during the day Bilbao we're so glad Bitoque was there to get us through the nights otherwise Bilbao may not have been even woth a mention. Still from the teaser menus we saw of the weekends offerings we'll come back one day and give it another shot.
Calle Rodriguez Arias 32