Although our trip to Bilbao was only booked a couple of days before we left, I still had enough time to research gluten free dining options.
I used the incredibly useful Madrid Coeliac Society website (key pages are in English) and printed from there a list of restaurants it recommended in Bilbao. The link will take you to search for restaurants throughout Spain. We then cross referenced this list with our Bilbao guidebook and a map.
It was very fortunate that the restaurant I liked the look of most happened to be close to our hotel. The website for Daniel Garcia’s Michelin starred Zortziko restaurant even noted that they catered for Coeliacs. We asked the hotel to call and make a reservation and they advised the restaurant that I was Coeliac at the time of booking.
From the outside it’s not immediately obvious that the building houses a restaurant. Sure, there’s a sign on the wall but when you enter it’s almost as if you’re going into someone’s house. Albeit a very grand house! The restaurant 4 rooms decorated in distinctly different styles. In the front, the decor is very traditional. We sat in the middle room which was unusually decorated. We later discovered it was used for the cookery school. Personally, I preferred this room because it was fun and a bit different. I also LOVE tomatoes so sitting with this view made me happy!
I was provided with the menu which focuses on Basque specialties and the waiter explained which dishes could be made gluten free. The tasting menu looked very exciting but I thought this would be challenge too far to make the adjustments for the dishes to be gluten free and the options on the main menu all looked very appetising.
This was approximately half of the starters and he said all of the main course fish and meat could be prepared gluten free. Of course, the waiter said, the alterations might mean you can’t have the sauce or perhaps an ingredient should be omitted but I was to let him know what I’d like to eat and he’d discuss it with the chef and advise what the substitutions would be. The waiter said any fish would be grilled or baked (not fried) for me. The service throughout the meal was attentive and our waiter spoke excellent English which helped when discussing the ingredients in each of the dishes and the adjustments to make them gluten free.
The waiter brought me this gluten free bread.
I can honestly say this bread was amazing. Just look at it – it even looks like a normal small baguette, doesn’t it?! Whilst the middle didn’t have the same light as a feather texture of a French baguette, the outside was crunchy and just like the regular, gluten filled version. At the end of the meal the waiter brought out the packet for the gluten free bread. It was made by the Spanish brand, Berlys. Like the fantastic Swedish gluten free bread Fria, comes frozen so it can be stored for whenever it’s needed.
The style of cooking is my absolute favourite. Using ingredients that are so fresh and flavoursome that they are served with just a dash of complementary flavour. Simple but at the same time, complex.
For a starter I chose the scallops with baby squid caviar and smoked onion.
This is a half portion, Mr D and I decided to share the cheeseboard. Eaten from left to right, the intensity of flavours increased as I progressed to the right of the board and a seriously unctuous blue cheese which was local to that region in Spain was a great finale.
Zortziko located at Alameda Mazarredo, 17, 48001 Bilbao
Hours: 13:00 to 15:30 h. – 20:30 to 23:00 h.
Closed Sundays and Mondays. Check directly for opening times during late August/September
Cost: 3 course dinner for 2 people including wine was EUR 170