My regular jaunts into Leeds city centre lends itself well for noticing any new openings. Whilst cutting through Granary Wharf a number of weeks ago, I spotted a new eatery being fitted out, looking for its signage I saw the words ‘Bilbao Bar‘ – alarm bells started ringing and my eyes lit up immediately!! For regular readers, you may already know that I love, love, love the food of Northern Spain, with a soft spot for Pintxos which all came from a road trip around the Basque region a few years ago. After visiting five destinations in ten days, the other half and I fell in love with the food on our journey around Northern Spain. With areas including Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona on our itinerary, all places synonymous with these hand-held works of culinary art. As you can imagine we gorged ourselves big style!!
Located in Granary Wharf, this new venue finds itself in good company with neighbours LIVIN’Italy and Wasabi Teppanyaki. Bilbao Bar has been open a couple of weeks now and serves up food Spanish food, with the emphasis on Basque inspired Pintxos during the day, then charcuterie and tapas in the evenings. The majority of the team are from Spain’s Basque region, to be more exact from Basari, a town very close to Bilbao, so they say you can expect authentic Spanish cuisine here.
The venue itself has got a very modern feel, it’s light, bright and airy with a great counter to place all the stunning Pintxos, ready to be eyed up and inevitably devoured!
I’d popped in a couple of times within close proximity of one another, trying their charcuterie after work and then back for lunch, sampling their pintxos the following day.
At the time I arrived, I was a little early for tapas (served 7pm onwards) so picked the Ibérico ham from the charcuterie menu.
Watching someone carve Ibérico ham is like watching a craftsman at work, I imagine it’s a skill that’s hard to do well; trying to carve it so wafer thin and also a particular size. In Spain, there’s a select band of people who are Maestro Cortadores (Master ham carvers), so hats off to those who do it well. I’d love to have a go, but would be mortified if I hacked it to shreds!!
With a glass of their house white I happily sat at the bar and relished every slice of Iberico ham. The ham with its intense dark red meat was sweet and rich in flavour from the animals acorn fed diet. I loved that the ham was so thin it verged on translucent, and how the fat just started to soften and melt away in my mouth. Simply beautiful stuff!
The following lunchtime was ALL about the Pintxos for me, I’d been looking forward to taking a seat at the bar, grazing away with one pintxos after another and a drink. Bilbao Bar have a very inticing offer of three pintxos with a drink for £7.95, which sounded perfect!! As always with pintxos it’s suitable for both carnivores and non-meat eaters, with lots of choice for all.
Feast your eyes on these, the chef noticed I was snapping away and said they may look great, but they taste even better….bold words indeed!
Just writing about them is making me want to head straight back and order more, they were that good!!! A great Pintxos standard is the quality of the Spanish omelette. I’ve eaten quite a few in leeds restaurants, and although they were good on flavour, they’ve fallen short on texture and are too firm in the middle.
This is the place to go if you want great tortilla, Where the potato is soft, not mushy and the egg is squidgy in the middle and bordering on just set. For me perfect in every way!! I went for their traditional version, but they also have one with chorizo; a lovely twist on the original.
Take my word for it – everything on my plate was absolutely delicious and instead of waxing lyrical about each one, if you like pintxos you should just go and find out for yourselves.
Being the greedy guts I am I went for a fourth pintxos, to be honest it would’ve been extremely easy to sit there all day and get through the whole counter. I’ll have to set myself the challenge I think!
I’d LOVE to keep this place a secret, but as that would be selfish I would have to say that I definitely RECOMMEND Bilbao Bar!!!
Get yourself down there, sit at the bar and graze away!!
Food: Superb take on authentic pintxos with a twist. Excellent charcuterie too!!!
Service: Lovely staff, who were friendly and genuinely have a love of the food they serve.
Atmosphere: I arrived during the quiet times of the day, so can’t comment on what its like when it gets busier. But, the place has a very relaxed ambience to it, a few hours (or more) could easily be spent here!Bilbao Bar Arch U Dark Arches Dark Neville Street Granary Wharf Leeds LS1 4BR https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bilbao-Bar/446808278788354?fref=ts