Yesterday I had lunch in the Garum Bistro, a restaurant which offers a creative take on locally sourced produce. It is tucked away in the Old Town about 5 minutes walk from the cathedral. I have been there many times and each time is an adventure.
Although I enjoy cooking I eat out a lot because the food is so reasonably priced. In Santiago for pilgrims, many of whom are on a budget, there are any number of places to go to: the Casa Manolo in the Plaza Cervantes, the dozens of restaurants in the Rua Franco and the growing number of places which offer both a Menu of the Day ( 3 courses including bread and wine) for less than 10€ and a main course plus dessert and a drink from around 6€.
Not much more expensive, the Garum is on another level entirely from the restaurants which cater for tourists and pilgrims. Rarely will you hear languages other than Spanish or Gallego in this warm and intimate space. The staff is friendly and very helpful and the place boasts an extensive list of specialist beers, wines and spirits. In terms of menus the Garum offers a tapas menu, an A La Carte menu and a Menu del Dia priced at 12 euros for three courses, bread and a drink. Needless to say I’ve tried all three.
Eating in the Garum is truly an adventure. The restaurant is lucky to have two very talented chefs who clearly have good ideas on both preparation and presentation.
If it is tapas you are after try their delicious croquettes with Truel ham or spare ribs in a piquant sauce cooked slowly and at a low temperature, mini beef burgers, chicken and vegetable tempura or salmon nuggets with wasabi mayonnaise. None of these is priced over 10€.
For a special lunch or evening meal the A La Carte is on offer – there are starters like Mussel Soup with coconut milk and spicy tomato and a full menu of meat and fish dishes. Desserts are something of a speciality in the Garum and one is more attractive than the other with choices between Passion Fruit Jelly with White Chocolate cream. Lemon Pie, Chocolate Ganache Cake with Red Fruit Soup and Vanilla Ice cream or Baked Apple Mousse with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Port Wine. Yummy.
Yesterday I had the Menu of the Day with an old friend. The Menu del Dia changes every day depending on what is available in the market and the fresh produce is cooked in often the most surprising and creative of ways. Recently I’ve had fish with a very delicate curry sauce and noodles, and their own take on boeuf en croute which was memorable. To be completely honest sometimes the flavour combinations they choose don’t work for me but the adventure is in trying them. It has never stopped me going back! The service is also excellent. A permanent complaint I have about food in Spain is that it is served lukewarm or cold. I mentioned this once in the Garum and now plates are heated and the food is piping hot.
So with a couple of glasses of chilled Ribeiro white wine in hand we had to decide whether to start with a Revuelto with Chorizo from the Basque Country or Cream of Courchette Soup. It was a very cold day and so we plumped for the soup. Rich, green, velvety and deeply flavoured. My friend followed with a meat lasanga. From his first forkful it was obviously not an Italian lasanga, it was their own take on the recipe with no béchamel and lightly cooked minced veal with fresh vegetables and tomatoes. I tasted it – not Italian but very delicious. I chose Roasted Cod on a sweet red pepper sauce. This was fish to die for. Perfectly cooked and seasoned the ingenious sauce was a perfect accompaniment.
The dessert that followed was apple pie made with the lightest short crust pastry and an almost sinful creamy apple sauce.
With the main courses we accepted Juan, the waiter’s, recommendation to try a bottle of Nexus Cosecha 2011 from the Ribera del Duero. I was worried about it going with the fish but it is the youngest and lightest of the Nexus range and it was delicious particularly with the red pepper sauce.
The Garum’s wine list is another camino with unusual selections as well as old favourites. The “guidebook” is broken down into: Wines for drinking (12–13€), Wines with Character (17 – 18€) and Wines for Special Moments (21-25€)
I highly recommend the Garum. I’ll return several times in the coming year. Will I see you there?
The Garum Bistro: C/ Praciña das Penas, 1, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña
Telephone: 981 10 39 10
Opening Hours: 13:00–16:00, 20:00–00:00 (closed Mondays)