Family-style dining, often in an historic hotel premises, has been at the heart of traditional Basque-American gastronomy for years. But in recent times a different kind of Basque restaurant has burst onto the scene offering a more contemporary twist on the Basque dining experience.
One of the latest of these to emerge is Urdaneta in Portland, OR. Chef Javier Canteras, the winner of a reality show, used his $150,000 prize to establish the restaurant, which will open in mid-July and is based on the cuisine of the Basque Country and northern Spain, including pintxos, hand-carved Spanish ham, and tortilla. Check out two reports on this new restaurant here and here.
Urdaneta is following in a more recent trend in Basque-American dining that was established by the likes of Basque bistro Fringale in San Francisco, originally opened by chef Gerald Hirigoyen and J.B. Lorda in September 1991, and now owned by Jean-Marie Legendre; and Hirigoyen’s new venture with the “West Coast Basque cuisine” of Piperade, also in San Francisco, which he opened with his wife Cameron in 2002.
Diners in Southern California can now also get a flavor of the Donostia pintxo experience at A Basq Kitchen in Redondo Beach, where owner Beñat “Chef Bernard” Ibarra brings the flavors of authentic Basque cuisine to Los Angeles’ Southbay. See a report on this restaurant, which opened just last year, here.
The East Coast, too, is not short of contemporary Basque dining options, with New York home to (among others) Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s Txikito and the pintxos bar Huertas, And further down the coast is La Bergerie in Alexandria, VA, founded in 1974 by the brothers Bernard and Jean Campagne-Ibarcq, which offers a range of French and Basque cuisine.
This list, which is by no means comprehensive, serves to highlight a new trend in Basque-American dining toward a more contemporary culinary experience. That said, there will always be a place for the traditional family-style experience of the Basque-American restaurant.