Casa Lucio. My girlfriend and I were actually looking for another restaurant, Taberna Bilbao, but I had copied down the wrong address thanks to Google maps so we ended up nowhere close to it. Fortunately we went down Cava Alta, a street in the neighborhood called La Latina, and I felt myself pulled by the hand, barging through people left and right. My girlfriend recognized where we were and had been talking up one dish that was served at Casa Lucio for a good week and a half. We walked into the restaurant through a nondescript door (all the doors out front look the same, very confusing) and we emerged onto a tapas bar to our left and a few tables in front of us. We stood around for a few minutes until a waiter came up to us, I stumbled through my Spanish and he got the idea that we had no reservation. He told us to wait and he'd be right back.
He passed by us a couple times, not looking at us, but taking down the names of other patrons who were also arriving without a reservation on a long list. I was getting a little nervous since he hadn't written down our names, but a hug and some long looks at the leg of jamon reassured me. The waiter came up to us about 10 minutes later and told us to follow him. He led us into a crowded room and sat us down at a table. Well it was more like half a table. Our knees were touching and we were right next to the table where they served the food from (it was bigger than ours.) But we were among all the locals who come in and we had a table. It was clear that they had just thrown this table together in the ten minutes that I was waiting.
|You can see the tray behind our table where they served food from|
We got a menu and immediately knew two things we were getting: huevos estrellados and jamon iberico de bellota (the real stuff). We were undecided about a third dish, but settled on the suckling pig. The ham came out first and was exactly how I pictured it, thin pieces of ham, glistening with fat. It was a beautiful sight. The first bite was not actually the best bite of the ham plate, the taste seemed to evolve as the night went on. At first it tasted like an amazing piece of ham, don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but as I ate more of it the taste changed. After a few more bites the ham was sweet, not in an overpowering way, but in a way that made me want to eat more and more, and that I did. You could also really taste the nuttiness of the ham, made possible by those famous acorns that true jamon iberico (de bellota) pigs feed on their entire lives. It was truly spectacular.
|Look at how shiny it is. Sign of a good ham.|
The huevos estrellados was next. Talk about a dish that was delicious yet incredibly simple. Good eggs, perfectly fried potatoes, runny yolks. Sounds like paradise to me. It was. The yolks made the dish as the potatoes were bathed in a delicious sauce of golden egg yolk. Really, nothing is better than a runny egg. This was no exception. I can't say much more about it without ruining it.
Suckling pig was next up, and thank the lord I've finally had my suckling pig. After going on a program trip to Segovia which by the way is KNOWN FOR suckling pig, we got roast chicken for lunch. What? Roast chicken? Albeit a very good roast chicken, but still, we were in the home of the suckling pig and we were served the other, other, other white meat? I think not. But I got mine. It was fatty, crispy skin, tender meat, I even got to gnaw on the tiny little leg and got a deliciously sticky and gelatinous [tiny] pig tendon out of the deal. Even my girlfriend who says ixnay to the atfay, had a piece of the crispy, fatty skin and while she might not have explicitly said that it was one of the best things the world has ever created, the big grin on her face said it all. The sauce underneath it was a salty pig broth, a little too salty for me, which let's face it, is saying a lot, but had it been a little less salty I would have slurped it all up with a straw.
|Why do the Spaniards serve everything with fries?|
Final Grade: A. Ham and eggs with a side of bacon, that was essentially our meal, just deconstructed and a little more elegant. For €63,00 it was not a cheap meal, but it was worth every euro-penny.
Definitely worth a trip for anyone.