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Bilbao Berria: the old and the new, hand in hand

Today’s Bilbao bears little resemblance to that of 30 years ago. In just one generation it has gone from an industrial city in decline to the Basque Country’s modern, cosmopolitan capital, where factories have made way for culture, entertainment, gastronomy and shopping. A wander along the famous riverside is all that’s needed to see the change.

The old Euskalduna shipyards have been converted into a modern conference centre, including an auditorium with enviable acoustics. But if there is one must-see on the riverside, it’s the Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art. The building, designed by the architect Frank O. Gehry, is itself work of art, imitating the form of a ship.

The avant-garde design of the museum and the various tower blocks surrounding it contrast with the history and tradition of the seven streets that make up the old town. This is the perfect area to lose yourself while discovering the most authentic Bilbao.

This fusion of the avant-garde with tradition isn’t only found when wandering through the city; it’s also present in restaurants like Bilbao Berria Ledesma. Located on one of the city’s most iconic streets, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the best in Basque gastronomy and a bottle of Martelo.

Founded by Iñaki Lasa, Rafa Viar and Pedro Antonio López almost 20 years ago, Bilbao Berria Ledesma is a restaurant that offers Basque fusion cuisine, in which the avant-garde is combined with more traditional, local flavours. It’s a hallowed place for gastronomy lovers, where the top-quality ingredients and the atmosphere will have you hooked. Just take a glance at the menu or photos of the interior and you’ll see what we mean.

The truth is that all the dishes are magnificent, but but if we had to come up with a selection, we’d start by sharing a platter of hand-carved ham, the exquisite tuna tataki with soy and sesame sauce; or artichokes in txakoli (the typical, slightly-sparkling local wine) with shellfish. An aperitif to whet your appetite for the main dish: Slow-roasted lamb with rosemary or griddled hake with barbels in pil-pil (a creamy sauce made from fish, garlic and oil). And to drink, what else but a bottle of Martelo? The perfect pairing.

If you’re visiting Catalonia rather than the Basque Country, you can also enjoy this restaurant’s menu and a bottle of Martelo in Barcelona, where they have two restaurants. One is called Bilbao Berria La Catedral, found on Plaça Nova, 3 and the other is called Bilbao Berria L’Illa Diagonal, on Avinguda Diagonal, 557.

Bilbao Berria Ledesma

Calle Ledesma, 26

944 249 273

Web site

Opening hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays 11:00 – 00:00 / Sundays 11:00 – 23:15 / Mondays closed

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