Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Café Iruña, Bilbao

Continued from Alhóndiga

I said in the last post that we knew where we'd be going for dinner. Being such late diners (yes, again), by the time we arrived, the one we wanted to sample, which was actually a couple of bars up from Iruña, didn't have many pintxos left. Actually it wasn't that late - only about 10.30pm. On a Friday night.

In the end, we plumped for Café Iruña. At least, it had the reputation. And they were still bringing out them pintxos.

The place was lovely. You could feel, not only see, the decades of tradition. There was a healthy crowd, but not full. We were offered a table without any problems. They had a room upstairs, which I presumed was for when it gets busy or for private functions.

Café Iruña, Bilbao

Tonight, that room wasn't used and everyone was seated downstairs or hanging around by the bar. We took a few minutes to soak in the décor of this 300 square metres 111-year-old café-restaurant.

Café Iruña, Bilbao

Café Iruña, Bilbao

Café Iruña, Bilbao

Café Iruña, Bilbao

We made the easiest choice and went for the pintxos menu, 12 items for 20€ (it could have been 19€). In  menus, the selection is left to the staff. 

Café Iruña, Bilbao

The variety offered to us was fine. But, to be honest, I was somewhat disappointed. The bread wasn't fresh. You can tell that the pintxos had been prepared hours before; if they could have toasted them slightly, I'm sure they would have tasted far better. They were good (except for one, which was rather salty), but they could have been better. I was left wondering if their reputation had not got the better of them and their continued success is based more on their reputation than the quality of their offerings.

My recommendation: yes, it's definitely a place worthy of a visit. It's almost like a tourist attraction in itself, but I'd avoid the pintxos unless you know they've been recently prepared. You could go for their breakfast, or their normal menus, or simple go à la carte.

Next stop, San Sebastian!