BASQUE COUNTRYSIDE - TOLOSA - CASA JULIAN
We returned to this, now famous on TV, remarkable, and easy-to-miss little restaurant, in the Basque countryside town of Tolosa, 28 km inland from San Sebastián in November 2022.
Once you find it and walk in you could think that you are in the wrong place, You will see an area containing several fridges and a load of crates and are likely to turn around and walk out again until you are greeted warmly, by el jefe, Matías Gorrochategui.
You will then be seated in one of the two old-fashioned dining rooms, that don't look like they have changed very much in over a century.
The walls are covered with many dusty wines bottles,
photo memorabilia, and various relics from yesteryear,
everywhere you look.
Once seated you can see the steaks being cooked over the hot coals. Topped with an extremely large dose of coarse salt, which is then scraped off before serving (the steaks are not salty, it is just a secret to get the best out of the steak).
It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes to get the two-inch thick slab of beef to just above rare, which is the only way you are allowed to have your steak at Casa Julian. This steak (the chuleton de buey for two from old dairy cows) is the only main dish on the menu. Don’t think of asking for it to be well done, you may end up on the grill!
We then ordered a bottle of Bodegas Roda 'Roda I' Reserva 2015 DOC Rioja and picked our starters from the specials menu and normal menu.
We started with a Contino 2016.
Then the Roda I is being opened.
The meal began with Cogollos de Tudela con Aceite de oliva (small hearts of local lettuce similar to Romaine but stronger, doused in exquisite olive oil)
Asperges spéciales de Navarre (special asparagus from Navarra).
Tomate entsalada (tomato salad with a gazpacho like sauce).
Porruak (slow-cooked leeks).
Kaneloiak (low-temperature rib, béchamel and truffle canneoli).
Albondigak (meatball with a fantastic roasted red pepper ice cream).
Our wine for the main course was a bottle of Vinedos de Paganos El Puntido, DOC Rioja 2017. This was chosen for us by the excellent sommelier to go with the steak and was a great choice.
Finally, the steak turned up and was indeed, stunning. The Chuletón de Viejo (bone in rib steak) is trimmed and carved into two, and is as good a piece of meat as you will find anywhere else in Spain and is simply not to be missed, especially in this great atmosphere. It’s like eating at the Medieval home of a friend who is also a top class grill master who has his own dairy cattle farm .
The unusually slow cooking seems to melt the fat slowly, making it, extra soft and moist.
You will also have asados pimientos del piquillo (roasted red piquillo peppers, flattened and arranged in a single layer in a ceramic dish that is roasted to order, brought to the table piping hot, and so delicious that the peppers would be the reason to come if not for the steak (the peppers are always served with the steak, not before).
From the short dessert menu,
Etxeko gazta tarta (home made cheescake).
Flan (egg yolk pudding).
Texas eta zigarroak Tolosatik (tiles and cigarettes from Tolosa, sweet local biscuits).
We finished with excellent carajillo's (black coffee with a shot of brandy).
The food and service on this visit seemed better than our previous visit. There seems to be more staff and a slightly upgraded menu. Everyone was just as friendly as we remembered it,
including the el jefe, Matías Gorrochategui.
A previous visit.
Tolosa is a quaint little town with a river running through it, with a few other decent restaurants and it makes a nice easy day trip from San Sebastián by car, train or taxi.
You can see our previous review here Casa Julian
Calle de Santa Klara, 6, 20400 , Tolosa, Guipúzcoa
+34 943 67 14 17
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