We have known this restaurant for years, back from the time the cook came back from Cookery School and took over his parents' old bar-and-traditional-food place. Back then it was quite a thing to taste food cooked and styled in a very contemporary fashion while sitting in simple table and chairs in this old bar next to other people eating a traditional stew.
We then saw this place becoming more and more popular until the cook went all guns blazing and decided to extend his restaurant into this brand new extension, where the looks now accompany the food.
I say all this because, to the cook's great credit, he has been able to incorporate what he was into what he is. The old bar is still there (now just a bar), the restaurant is served by the same local people who used to work back in the old days - including his sister- and the menu includes dishes which are a tribute to his family and his origins.
So the restaurant is now new, fresh looking and with huge ceiling-to-floor windows with spectacular views to the most amazing green mountainous landscape typical of the north of Spain. The tables are nice and big and spotlessly clean. The people who wait on the tables are attentive and warm, retaining that friendliness from back in the days but without much fanfare.
The food is simply delicious and the wine list is strong - although to me, it's all about the food here. They earned a well deserved Michelin star last year for the first time but I am extremely happy to say that it hasn't changed their ways or made them modify their menu to please the God of Michelin. They still do what they do best - cookery based on seasonal local produce, based on traditional cookery but incorporating some contemporary twists, that does not interfere with but actually enhances the flavours. And portions are good size as well - you will not leave hungry. If you happen to be around in season, you simply must order the fresh white asparagus which are served warm. If you are a dessert lover, make sure you try the tostada (slice of caramelised brioche pudding served warm).
This restaurant beats hands down many of the luxury places in Madrid, London or Paris. Even some of the places in the Basque country ;)
You will need a car to get there - it's about 30/40ish min drive from Santander, 45/50ish min drive from Bilbao. 15 min drive or so from Laredo. The restaurant is on top of a steep hill, with some sharp bends. The views though are quite something.
In terms of price, well, not particularly cheap but not ridiculously expensive either - last time we visited a couple of weeks ago dinner came to € 145 - three-course, dessert, coffee, one small bottle of white and one small bottle of red, plus some canapes and petit fours which were on the house.
A 10 out of 10 for me.
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