Euskalduna Studio opened in 2016. It was a small place with a couple tables in the front for groups of 4 and the rest of the guests were on the 10 high wood chairs with arms in front of a stone counter across from the open kitchen. On the wall above the cooking area was a display of knives. Behind was a wall of light wood, shelves for glassware and above, an interesting acoustical ceiling. It felt very stylish yet casual. Music was in the background and the lights were lowered. Everyone in attendance is served a tasting menu but what is on your menu varies. Each time you return the chef, Vasco Coelho Santos, will design you a new menu of dishes inspired by many cultures (particularly Japanese) but with a Portuguese twist. We were lucky to sit next to their Number 1 fan who has been once a month and is now a real challenge for chef Santos to find new surprises to prepare for her. With each tasting menu they do offer wine pairings as well as non-alcoholic options. Wines are also available by the bottle and glass. Pacing and portion control were just right. I would put this on your list to get to if you can.
A small snack was the first thing presented. A fried hake skin held a sea urchin emulsion and some octopus. It was a one bite item and a very good start to the meal. Rather than the pairings we chose to drink a sparkler with the tasting.
A pancake topped with grandma’s oxtail was first on the regular menu. It was a sourdough pancake with Portuguese goat cheese that had been cured like a blue cheese. The dense moist pancake combined well with the strongly flavored cheese and well cooked savory meat. It was a perfect trio. Lots of texture and bursting with flavor.
A huge Portuguese oyster was covered with a pil pil sauce made with the skirt of oyster. The huge, rich oyster was from southern Portugal and had a moderately briny flavor. It was cut into pieces and smaller pieces worked into the pil pil. It was an oyster celebration.
Prawn, mango and curry was made with pink shrimp and a sauce made from the heads mixed with red curry ice cream. Some apple bits were somewhere in the mix. It was a great blend of raw shrimp with the various seasonings to provide a good lingering aftertaste in the mouth.
White trevally (amberjack like) fish was topped with asparagus. The fish was wood cured here and had a sauce of asparagus, cabbage and red onion was the perfect binder for the it with the asparagus spears. The smokey fish crudo paired nicely with the crisp asparagus.
An off the menu item was artichoke with a caramelized shallot in a tart made with cow fat. It was yum x3, buttery, rich and lovely.
Lobster and “grelos” was made with lobster tartar, a confit of citrus and a stew of vegetables. A topping of turnip greens paired well with the soft meat of the lobster. It all blended perfectly and was full of flavor. The confit citrus and the cooking of the greens in pork balanced wonderfully and didn’t overshadow the lobster.
Turbot and vegetables was perfectly cooked turbot with a Tuscan white carrot from their garden and a sauce from the heads of the fish cooked with vegetables and browned onions. The large flake fish went perfectly with the tart greens and savory sauce. It was a great combination of textures with lots of flavor.
The next course, Jerusalem artichoke textures, had an optional addition of French black Perigord truffle, which we opted to have. The Jerusalem artichokes were stewed, pickled and fried which in itself offered fun textural contrasts and great flavor but paired with the magnificent truffle it was wonderful. This was great.
Octopus and rice had the tentacles steamed on a risotto like dish. This is a traditional dish. The rice is cooked with the water the octopus was steamed in which is then reduced to make a sauce. Some sea herbs finished the dish. This was a wonderful blend of flavors and totally delicious.
Their Number 1 customer, Olga Prado was sitting next to us. She has been there for 35 meals and each one is different. She is so taken with the place she had a drawing done of the staff with her which the chef proudly showed us.
Bifana and bread was a typical “pork sandwich” with a tomato sauce. The pork had been cured and smoked and the tender meat burst with flavor. Alongside was a serving of sourdough bread that was dense with a really crisp crust. You could dip it into the sauce and eat together with the meat or alone. Either way it was terrific and very savory. They also had a jar of hot sauce you could add as desired. It was perfect addition for me.
An off the menu dessert was a hazelnut biscuit with apple ice cream and some hazelnut oil. It was a great little cake and the oil really brought out the hazelnut flavor. A great combination and the biscuit/cake had wonderful texture. A perfect dessert.
The menu’s dessert was a churro with white chocolate and caviar. It was a round churro topped with rosemary smoked caviar with fennel and white chocolate. It was full of smokey, crunchy amazing flavors. It was very good.
Last were cookies with a tad of spice and tons of buttery goodness. I could have eaten a whole box of them.