We recently had the chance to have lunch at Asador Etxebarri, a restaurant that has gotten a lot of attention from the culinary press for its grill-centric take on traditional Basque food. I had read how great the food is but had not realized that the restaurant is so isolated or that it was in such a beautiful place. It is located in the tiny village of Axpe (in the commune of Axtondo) in the the Basque region of the Bizkaia, which is right on the edge of the Parke Naturala Urkiolako. And when I say right on the edge, I am not kidding; the craggy peaks of the park tower over the village and create a striking view from the terrace at Etxebarri, where guests are offered a glass of champagne before the meal.
Axpe itself is too small to support a hotel (I dont know what the actual population is but it feels like about 10o), so instead we stayed at Biezko Basseria, a working farm that also welcomes guests. The farm was only about 15 minutes walk from the restaurant but seemed completely remote from the rest of the world. The only sound at night was the distant ringing of cowbells on the mountain slopes above the farm.
Asador Etxebarri is located in the tiny collection of ancient stone buildings that constitutes the center of the village of Axpe. Somehow, time spent in the quietly beautiful Spanish countryside seems an appropriate preparation for a meal at Etxebarri, where each dish seems a quietly, carefully considered expression of the land, the sea and what they offer.
I have never been one who thinks that photos and words can do justice to a wonderful meal; it needs to be experienced with friends. Suffice it to say that our lunch exceeded our expectations as well as our ability to eat even one more bite. A very memorable meal in a stunning location.
Address: Plaza de San Juan, 1, 48291 Atxondo, Bizkaia, Spain
Tel: 946 58 30 42
Reservations: Imperative, accepted 3 months in advance, book very early