Mina is exactly my favourite sort of restaurant. It's in Spain for a start which helps. It's contemporary, small, local and friendly. The food here is relatively simple yet still innovative. Most importantly, it's just a real and absolute joy to eat here. It's not really on the tourist trail yet, in the same way that the big three starred restaurants are but the food is equally as impressive, to me anyway. It has one Michelin star right now but it deserves another at the very least. Mina is very reasonable too, with a 7 course taster menu setting us back at just €69. I can guarantee that no restaurant in Manchester can hold a candle to the food they're producing here right now and yet they're selling it at such reasonable prices. £50 is more or less the price of dinner at an average mid range Italian chain restaurant in our city. This is exactly why we come to Spain. The quality of food and value for money is incomparable. Álvaro Garrido visits here every morning before deciding what he'd like to cook that day. Of course we're eagerly early, (all the chefs are eating their lunch and look on our arrival with some surprise). So we retreat to sit outside a local grungey but friendly neighbourhood bar for some cold drinks before heading back at 2pm for a most memorable lunch. You enter up the stairs to an elegant, modern, light dining room with windows along one wall, looking out over the river. It's empty when we arrive but totally full (of locals) within the hour.
We begin with a light taste of Crunchy cod skin. Something like this sets the scene and gives you a feeling you're on for a good one.
Panna cotta of black garlic.
I love everything that is put in front of me here but this Mussels in lemon grass and coconut soup and spice tomato sticks in the memory, such vivid flavours.
Oyster Gillardeau, gin and citric.
Cod and grapefruit soufflé. Quite acidic with the grapefruit, overly so for some of our party. I love the way the light, fluffy soufflé melts on your tongue.
Norway lobster and fennel.
The partridge ravioli. Even Mrs B with her slight aversion to partridge loved this one. The flavours are strong and intense but never unbalanced or overly salty.
Hake from the Cantabric Sea, roasted and served with seasonal vegetables.
Grilled sirloin steak served with balsamic pumpkin.
The Sea". Crème brulee, pear and frozen Amaretto. All the desserts are extremely accomplished.
Not only is the food a real pleasure to eat, the service is actually the best we encounter on this trip to The Basque country and the taster menu is well paced too. Yes we all loved Mina. I'd strongly suggest a cheap flight to Bilbao and a visit there yourself, we couldn't recommend it highly enough, it's one of our best meals of 2015.
Larger photos here.