The Best Fish and Seafood in Vigo
25 April, 2017
Any visit to Vigo comes with a premium – their cuisine. You can eat oysters in the Calle de la Pescadería, or go for wine and tapas in the Plaza de la Constitución (in the old quarter). But, there are also restaurants that produce good-quality dishes based on fine ingredients (particularly fish and seafood), capable of serving up some tasty, original dishes at affordable prices. We visited five establishments in the city and, after a highly edifying tour of La Brújula cannery in Ribadumia (just over an hour and a half from Vigo and Santiago de Compostela), we stumbled on a scrumptious eatery in nearby Oubiña.
The Othilio Bar
The casual interior design in this restaurant (the bicycle presiding over the premises from above, the vintage racquets hanging on the wall) becomes passion and reliability in the kitchen and dining-room, ever efficient and impeccable. Hence, it is always full to bursting. And, not because customers enjoy seeing the twins, Carlos and Pablo, in action, but because their offerings are superb – their superlative marinated salmon nuggets, delicate sea bass carpaccio, Cambados scallop with griddled cardinal prawns, suckling lamb simmered for 10 hours… Top-notch products processed with modern techniques which Carlos learned while seconded to El Celler de Can Roca. And, serving up all this at affordable prices is a merit in itself. If they canvassed for a Michelin star, they would get one for sure. They have talent, know-how and motivation and, they are brothers – like the Rocas and Torres! But, then again, perhaps things should stay as is, so our budget will allow us to savour their fare more often.
Whoever likes feeling at home, while being able to relish things they would never be able to taste in their house, should definitely head for María Manuela. This tiny, elegant, warm wine bar serves up tapas that have earned the accolade, “Best Tapa in Vigo”, two years running and offers tastings of fine, interesting wines while pampering customers without smothering them. Must-trys include the cream of prawn and roast piquillo peppers with citrus reduction, Malagan anchovies, tuna tartare with avocado and apple, and chicken sachet with cheese custard (a round pie). Imagination, passion and good produce, often Galician but also sourced from other areas, in generous helpings. Plaza de Compostela, 31.
If you visit Vigo as a tourist, you’re not likely to go past this restaurant, as it is located in an area of office buildings a quarter of an hour from the old town. Yet it is well worth sitting down to a meal at Detapaencepa, either on the ground floor on high stools, or on the quieter first floor with low tables. It’s not hard to find something you like here, as they have acres of menu on which tapas are king. Dishes that come highly recommended include octopus with cachelo (potato) foam – lighter than the traditional a feira variety, as the potato has been creamed – smoked sardine and ratatouille pastry, a foie gras and apple mini-sandwich and steamed clams with olive oil. Take note, they have 300 types of wine, of which about ten can be ordered by the glass.
One of the most popular restaurants in one of the most crowded leisure areas in Vigo – the Bao beaches. It’s common to encounter people queueing up to get their hands on their patties which, apart from being huge, are among the best in town. The patty fillings include octopus, cured pork sausage, beef, ham and field mushrooms, tuna fish, calamari and pork fillet. But, Las Barricas and their loyal customers are not in it just for the patties. They also offer a variety of other dishes, like an open sandwich of codfish and tomato preserve, octopus and tetilla cheese, and mini-burgers with Brie and caramelised onion, accompanied with ketchup and honey mustard sauce. Take note of the wine list, with numerous Galician varieties, notably a couple of Albariños made by the restaurant owner, Pablo Rey. The name, Las Barricas (The Casks), is well-earned. Should anyone be unimpressed by it, let them look down at the flooring, made of wooden wine crates.
O Rei Pescador
Eager to have some good fish or seafood, or Galician recipes based on Galician produce? Then head for O Rei Pescador, in the picturesque Plaza de Compostela, near the harbour and old quarter. There you can delight in their superlative Galician monkfish, which will melt in your mouth, as well as baked fish (turbot, sea bass, red pomfret…). You are bound to order a second helping of cuttlefish croquettes, as plump and crisp without as they are dense within, and praise the extremely tender and tasty Galician-style octopus known as pulpo a feira,in addition to the souba (tiny sardines), codfish and zamburiña (Galician scallops in a tomato fish sauce). You are also likely to enquire whether you can take home some of their scrumptious patties – bear in mind, though, that they contain a little cured pork sausage.
Fábrica La Brújula (Ribadumia)
If you head out of Vigo or Santiago de Compostela in search of a gourmet experience, why not do a spot of “canning tourism”? Drive to Ribadumia, a good half-an-hour from either city, and drop in on the flashy, Modernist La Brújula Canning Factory, which opened in early 2016. On your free tour of the cannery you will appreciate the work and pampering that goes into each can, learn jargon words like líquido de gobierno (a liquid which boosts storage life) and esmocado (the act of cutting and cleaning each piece) and you will be told that the longer the clams are canned, the tastier they become, even though this defies logic. The best way of testing this is by tasting them, so you should call to book a date and time and order a tasting session, which in this case is a pay service. With that flavour on your palate, you can then wander through the old quarter of neighbouring Cambados and/or visit one of the wineries in the area, which come under the Rías Baixas DO.
Casal do Umia (Oubiña)
Schedule an escape to the Solnés district – half-an-hour’s drive from either Vigo or Santiago de Compostela – to treat yourself to an octopus dish which is considered almost legendary. The venue is even frequented by the president of Galicia’s regional government or Xunta, so don’t underestimate this simple restaurant, set in a rural homestead in Ribadumia, the enclave where Mariano Rajoy spends his summers and goes for brisk walks. The homemade cuisine is cooked by Lourdes, who once worked as a pescantina (selling fish in the market), and served up by good old Emilio, a former fisherman. We had to wheedle the octopus recipe out of him – it includes potato, which turns dark from sharing the pot with the octopod, so it’s best to focus on its flavour and tenderness and serve it with a muxicu, a sort of special pulpo a feira, with hollow, jacket-fried potatoes stuffed with a refined sauce of allioli, octopus and La Vera red pepper. If you’ve got room for another dish, go for their patties filled with longfin tuna from La Brújula. To accompany the feast, order the wine they make themselves with grapes from their vineyards. For dessert, a cream caramel, without question. What consistency and flavour!
Text by Ferran Imedio of Gastronomistas.com
25 April, 2017