Ibai (San Sebastián, Spain)
Calle de Getaria kalea, 15
20005 Donostia/San Sebastián, Spain
Dining date: 9/27/17
Ibai wasn’t initially on my radar while researching potential restaurants in San Sebastián. It’s not in the Michelin guide and isn’t highly ranked on either Yelp or TripAdvisor. However, I stumbled across it on a few food blogs that gave rave reviews of the restaurants’ simple, homey cooking with warnings of how difficult a reservation is to attain.
The restaurant is small, fitting only 5-6 tables, and is only open weekdays for one lunch seating. That is it; the restaurant is not open for dinner, nor on weekends. To complicate matters, the restaurant would not accept reservations from abroad so we had to make the reservation once we were in town. On our first day in San Sebastián, we walked in that afternoon to seek out a reservation. To our surprise, there was a table available the next day, so we were all set.
The restaurant has one menu with no prices; each day, some of the items are available and some are not due to market availability. We picked out a couple of appetizers and a large-format main course to share, adding one more small plate (mushrooms) based on a neighboring table’s recommendation.
amuse bouche of lobster
rice with clams
sole for two
Ibai was charming and delicious and I’m really glad I was able to dine here. The total came out to be just under $200 for two before wine. Everything was very simply prepared but executed beautifully. Rice with clams was one of my favorites, a refined take on a risotto with tender sweet clams and a very flavorful rice. Mushrooms were excellent, tender and full of forest flavor. And the sole was the piece de resistance, served whole and carved tableside. The fish was moist, flaky and complemented by a rich butter sauce. Even the dessert was great, a cross between a creme brûlée and ice cream sandwich.