Bilbao: Lunch at Bistró Guggenheim

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
When we planned for our trip around Spain we decided to rent a car from Madrid’s airport then drive to San Sebastian then to Barcelona. We could have ridden the train but cost wise renting a car was cheaper and more importantly we were able to take a detour to Bilbao just to see the Guggenheim Museum.

Bilbao was so different from Madrid. The weather was much cooler and the architecture was beautiful.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

We parked our car at an underground car park and walked to the Guggenheim.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-001

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-002

I really wanted to see the museum built my Frank Ghery more than the modern & contemporary artwork inside. This museum clad in titanium, glass and limestone made Bilbao a tourist attraction when most tourists used to bypass this city for more the popular cities like Madrid and Barcelona.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-003

In front of the Guggenheim is “Puppy” a floral topiary made with 70,000 fresh flowers by artist Jeff Koons.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-004

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-005

It was around 1:30 pm when we arrived and we didn’t have time to go in the museum and we wanted to just eat lunch. We immediately made reservations at the Bistró inside for 2:00 pm.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-008

This was the view from the museum.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-007

There was another restaurant behind the museum called Nerue and we wanted to see if we could get a table there. We had to go down these stairs.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-009

Another view from below the wide steps.
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Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-011

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-012

Maman (French word for mother ) is a sculpture by the artist Louise Bourgeois. The sculpture, which resembles a spider, is amongst the world’s largest and most impressive, measuring over 30ft high and over 33ft wide, with a sac containing 26 marble eggs. Its abdomen and thorax are made up of ribbed bronze. Wikipedia
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-013

You can tell I was fascinated with this art installation.
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You can see the marble eggs in this picture.
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The restaurant, Nerue was full and wasn’t taking any more reservations. It didn’t look full though.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao- Nerue

The food here was more expensive than at the Bistró.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao- Nerue's menu
Nerue’s menu (click to enlarge)

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-019
back of the Guggenheim museum

This was the bar at the Bistró Guggenheim. People were lining up to get tapas.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao

If we didn’t eat at the table I would have been happy with their unique and delicious looking tapas.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - tapas at the bar
tapas at the bar

I just wasn’t too thrilled with their dessert options. I’m not eating muffins in Spain.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - tapas at the bar-001

The Bistró had a very casual ambiance.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao -001

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I was very impressed with the menu printed directly on wood veneer. We all decided to have the set menu that cost €25.40 for 3 courses and include a bottle of wine and water.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao menu
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao menu

I thought we were going to be given a bottle of water each but we had to share one bottle among the three of us.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao -008

A bottle of wine for the three of us was just right. I wonder if they give solo diners a whole bottle too?
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - Palaciego Rioja
Palaciego Rioja

Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - homemade bread
homemade bread

These small and round olives were the best ever. The taste was delicate and the texture was soft. I wonder what these are called exactly.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - olives

Rochelle chose the most unique entrees while Sha and I had safer choices. She started with this unique watermelon and tomato gazpacho. She
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - tomato & watermelon gazpacho with seasoned tuna tartare
tomato & watermelon gazpacho with seasoned tuna tartare

For our starter Sha and I chose the seafood rice which was just like paella but much better. The rice was perfectly al dente and the stock used to make the rice was excellent. I could taste the nuances of the shellfish use. I don’t normally like ‘foam’ but the garlic mayonnaise foam imparted a strong garlic flavor perfect with the rice.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - creamy seafood rice with rock mussels & garlic mayonnaise foam
creamy seafood rice with rock mussels & garlic mayonnaise foam

If you guessed this was Rochelle’s main course then you’re right. I tasted some of the tapioca (sago) and it was savory which was kinda weird. My brain was used to sweet tapioca and it couldn’t process the fishy version. Rochelle said the fish was just ok.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - cod confit over tapioca pearls with seafood & "pilpil"
cod confit over tapioca pearls with seafood & “pilpil”

Sharon was very happy with her fork tender pork.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - roast pork, hazlenut cream & watercress salad
roast pork, hazlenut cream & watercress salad

The picture doesn’t do justice to one of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever eaten. I usually just like lamb chops but this chunk of lamb was so tender and very, very fragrant. The flavor of whatever seasoning was used permeated all the way in the meat.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - roast boned lamb with pumpkin puree & a touch of coffee
roast boned lamb with pumpkin puree & a touch of coffee

Since Rochelle loves whipped cream this foamy dessert was just up her alley. The picture with apple juice poured into the foam didn’t look as good as it tasted so I didn’t post that.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - caramelised curd foam with apple juice
caramelised curd foam with apple juice

Sha chose the best dessert. The chocolate sponge cake was so soft and it reminded me of the texture of mamon. It was the strong coffee mousse that I loved best.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - chocolate sponge cake, coffee mousse & milk ice cream
chocolate sponge cake, coffee mousse & milk ice cream

My healthy dessert of crisp Fuji apple cubes lightly poached in liquorice juice was very interesting and refreshing. The cheese ice cream was very mild and complemented the apples. Those green leaves on top tasted like liquorice too.
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao - fuji apple in liquorice juice with cheese ice cream
fuji apple in liquorice juice with cheese ice cream

The food was amazing and very worth the price we paid. This was the second time I ate in a museum restaurant and enjoyed it. The first was in Los Angeles’ J. Paul Getty museum. Do all the restaurants in museums  really serve fantastic food?
Bistró Guggenheim Bilbao -019

Final shots of Bilbao from inside the car. It looks like Amsterdam right? I wish we had more time to go around Bilbao since the city looked really clean and nice but San Sebastian was another 2-3 hours away and my other cousins from the USA were already there and have been texting our whereabouts.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-043

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao-044

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Avenida Abandoibarra, 2
48001 Bilbao

Bistró Guggenheim’s website

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