I have a friend who visits San Sebastián every year. When she heard we were going she told us about a restaurant that she makes a point to eat at every time that she visits so, of course, we had to visit it too.
Ni Neu is built into the San Sebastián Opera House. It’s a stand alone modern building that is nestled in between the river and beach. To set the scene for our dinner, the sun was setting (we intentionally timed that) but also, there was an amazing busker outside singing Edith Piaf songs dressed to the nines.
When we got inside the interior was incredibly dark with fish nets all tied to the ceiling. The waiters all speak perfect English (so don’t worry about that) and we were quickly sat down with the wine list.
And some local bread and butter…
And then it was onto the food…
Now we had been told that the tasting menu was amazing but since we were eating so late, we had started with a few local pintxos near our hotel so we didn’t think we could get through all those dishes. Instead we chose some starters and a rice dish which we though were a good representation of the menu.
First up, we chose the beef carpaccio. The cured beef – like everywhere else we’d been – was to die for. It was so thin, it was almost transparent. It was rich and melt in your mouth at the same time.
They delivered with it a plate of roasted potatoes with egg yolk and chopped cornichons. Although it’s not traditionally what I would have thought of as a accompaniment to beef carpaccio, it worked so well. I loved the little hit the cornichons gave the soft fluffy potatoes and rich egg yolk.
Feeling a little deprived of vegetables and seeing there was a charred lettuce on there (our favourite dish at our local Italian), we opted for the charred cos salad.
It definitely didn’t disappoint. The lettuce was charred and soft and then covered with transparent, thin strips of salty cheese (not sure which one). It was also covered with thin strips of fried garlic and a milky foam on the bottom (we’re not sure what that was).
But the rice was really what we’d come for. Paella is definitely a favourite of ours and so we had a order the local San Sebastián rice!
We understood the heat mat, the ladle, etc. but they also bought out a little timer so we starter speculating what that was for.
The waiter came out with a tray of goodies including a blue pot, a bowl of raw seafood, saffron mayonaise and various utensils. When he lifted the lid on the blue pot, the smell from the tomato rice inside was amazing!!!
He promptly tipped all the seafood into the pot and gave it a good stir. Here’s a link to a little video if you want to see the magic happen:
I thought the boy was going to die with anticipation.
After that felt like an eternity, we lifted the lid again and omg… it was a beautiful harmony of rice, tomato, seafood and aromatics.
It was seriously, seriously good. The rice was perfectly good, the broth was unreal and somehow, all the seafood – mussels, pippis, squid and a firm white fish – had all cooked perfectly in that three minutes.
Even though we were stuffed, we had to have dessert. It was our last night and everyone had told us about the San Sebastián version of French Toast.
To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed and friends who I showed this photo to said that this wasn’t the real thing.
I think the problem was it wasn’t cooked enough. Apparently the San Sebastián version of French toast is meant to be really caramelised. Very sugary, very crunchy. This was very blonde and a little bit soggy. I took a bite and let the boy finish the rest. It really wasn’t very nice.
Overall though, go for the rice. It was such an awesome experience and definitely something that you should do while in San Sebastián. Or at a minimum go for cocktails to watch the sunset.
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