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Following his success as winner of MasterChef: The Professionals, Ash Mair has teamed up with the Bilbao Berria group to launch his own eatery in the West End. Inspired by the originals in
Barcelona and Bilbao, the new outlet is spread over two floors with an open kitchen on each level: one area is devoted to casual pintxos, tapas and Spanish wines by the glass; the other is a more
formal space offering top-end Basque specialities and generic dishes. Imported produce is the cornerstone of the set-up, with cured meats, cheeses and preserved vegetables playing a key role on the
vast menu – expect salt cod fritters with alioli and lemon, Josper-roast potatoes with onion confit, hake and cockles with salsa verde or grilled quail with goose liver parfait, fig and sherry
caramel, followed by desserts such as caramelised French toast with vanilla ice cream and apricot purée.
Created by three Spanish friends in 1999, Bilbao Berria has expanded into London with the aim of showcasing Basque cuisine, eating particularly via pintxos (food served in skewers) and tapas (aka food served on plates). Tucked in the lower end of Regent Street, the chain's first international restaurant is fronted by Aussie celebrity masterchef Ash Mair. Heaps more polished than the Bilbao and the Barcelona restaurants, the London joint is STUNNING. It's very cosmo-industrial which I reckon would appeal to those who like a good social scene (thus questions the choice of location, close to tourist-laden spots and teenage clubland)...
More from Musings from the girl next shore »
I don’t envy any new tapas restaurant opening in London. Unless you’re as good as José or Ember Yard, or as cheap as Barrafina, then it’ll be a real struggle to stand out. Bilbao Berria tries to rely on three things to set itself apart – a menu with alleged Basque and Catalan influences, a celebrity chef and glossy surroundings. I’m barely aware of Masterchef since I watch hardly any TV these days, so the fact that the kitchen is headed up by the 2011 winner of the cooking contest show matters little to me. The gilded surroundings certainly are pretty, but ultimately it’s all about the food...
More from The Picky Glutton »
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