Restaurant Week was in full swing as I dined my way through San Sebastian. Next stop: Ni Neu – touting itself as an avant-garde cuisine with an easy to understand format – I was quite excited to see what they would have on offer.
Earlier in the week, I had met another solo traveller and we had agreed on dinner at Ni Neu. When I arrived, I was quickly escorted to join my new found dining partner and presented with our menus. Ni Neu had much more of a trendy feel that the other restaurants I had been to in San Sebastian – almost like a night club rather than a restaurant. The bar was packed with people enjoying drinks before dinner and the sounds of voices from around the world lending a party atmosphere to the evening.
Getting down to business – with my camera on the table and pen ready to scribble away, my newly self appointed “Restaurant Critic” role was about to begin!
I started with a Puntalette (rice shaped) pasta sauteed with porcini mushrooms, prawns and a hint of aniseed. The presentation was nice with the foam, although I found the dish a little bland. We were not off to a good start – the dish just needed a little kick of some kind to pick up the flavour factor.
The Main Course – Braised, boned lamb with rosemary quinoa and garlic paste
All was forgiven as I tasted my first bite of the lamb – the flavours literally dancing on my taste buds. Truth be told, I have a tendency to a love-hate relationship with lamb. Too gamey, and I am not a fan. Easy to over cook and render too chewy and tough – you see the trend. This dish, however, was definitely on the love side. Braising the lamb gave rise to the perfect balance of flavour and texture – a burst of succulent gameyness combined with a melt in your mouth texture. The garlic paste in the quinoa was light, avoiding overpowering the dish, but rather, offering a perfect compliment. If you like the flavour of lamb – Ni Neu’s creation is certainly a dish worth tasting. I am not sure if this is one of Ni Neu’s signature dishes, however a read through on Trip Advisor did provide a mention of the lamb, suggesting, as I found, a tender and tasteful dish.
Dessert – French Toast soaked in Egg Yolk and Fresh Cream
Another delectable finish to the dinner, Ni Neu’s interpretation on french toast was melt-in-my-mouth good. All amazing meals start with excellent ingredients, and the thick yet fluffy bread used to make this french toast stole the show. Caramelizing in the pan added a nice texture and contrast between the outside with the amazing soft, fresh bread interior. Served with homemade ice cream – a fabulous finish to the meal.
While not a coffee drinker myself, my dinner partner ordered an espresso to finish off the night. Accompanying the coffee was a lovely assortment of homemade marshmallows, espresso cookies and mini muffins. I found this to be a great touch to the end of the meal. There was no sense of rush to get out as we nibbled on the goodies, comparing notes on our meals! (The final vote – the lamb was by far the best of the 2 dinner choices and worthy of compliments to the chef. We both felt we would come back for more.)
Ni Neu’s participation in San Sebastian’s Restaurant Week meant that this menu was set at 25€ plus 10% VAT, including the above three courses, bread and a bottle of win. Restaurant week is meant to “reinforce San Sebastian’s position as a food tourism destination,” according to the creators of the event. I have to say…I think they are succeeding!
More restaurant reviews from San Sebastian’s Restaurant Week: