Ahh, Spring! We are usually adventurous eaters, excited to try new restaurants and new tastes. Some days, though, we want to go where we know we’ll be happy. The sun is shining and the temp is just right. We don’t want to take any chances. We want it to be good. We go to one of our happy places.
At Crudo Bar, we know that we will be happy. It’s spring and we want a dewy glass of albarino with a plate of fresh fish at a sunny table next to bustling activity of the Mercado Central. This is why we are in Spain.
Valencian born Chef Jorge de Angel Moliner opened Crudo Bar just over two years ago in March 2015. He and his team use fresh fish, meats, and produce from the Mercado Central just across the street to create dishes from all over the world, like Peruvian tiradito and Japanese tataki alongside traditional Valencian Esgarraet.
Crudo means “raw” in Spanish and that is how much of their fish and meat is prepared. In our opinion, this is the perfect way to eat on a hot summer day (or on a slightly warm spring day as we dream about hot summer days). After our first visit, my tasting notes started with “Wow, that was just what we needed”. We had a bottle of albarino wine from Riaxas Baixas, and started a journey through the menu.
Bonito en medio mojama con tomate y aceite de oliva (white tuna, slightly cured, with tomato and olive oil). Our favorite dish at Crudo Bar and one that we must order at every visit. The bonito is semi-cured with salt, lending it a bold flavor that may be strong to those that don’t like fishy fish, but to us it is the reason one eats fish. The texture of the fish is so soft it melts away on the tongue. The bonito slices rest on a bed of fresh tomato puree, drenched with olive oil and sprinkled with Provencal herbs.
Tataki de atun con cebolla crujiente (tuna tataki with crunchy onion). Using the Japanese technique of briefly searing the meat on the outside, called tataki, this tuna is still bright and fresh in the middle. It is seasoned with an earthy soy dressing with crunchy onion bits and chives on top. There are a lot of restaurants out there serving red tuna (atun rojo) in some raw format or another. This is one of our favorites.
Pulpo a la plancha (Grilled Octopus). It was nice to find a preparation of pulpo that is different from every other restaurant in Valencia. Crudo Bar’s pulpo a la plancha consists of a single, large beautiful tentacle of octopus grilled simply with little seasoning. Nothing else was needed but a squeeze from the charred lemon and flakes of black salt to complement the incredibly tender meat – as tender as any pulpo we have ever tried. This was considered a main dish and was served with a tangy green salad.
Esgarraet Valenciano de bacalao crudo (Valencian Esgarraet of raw cod). Esgarraet is a traditional Valencian dish that combines grilled red peppers, garlic, olive oil and black olives with shredded salt cod. Of course at the Crudo Bar, their version uses raw bacalao which keeps the flavors fresh and light.
Tiradito de corvina con jengibre y calabaza (Corvina with ginger and pumpkin). Prepared Peruvian style, slices of mild corvina (similar to seabass) fish lay on top of a puree of pumpkin with the heat of fresh ginger. There had to be some aji chili pepper in there too, because this was spicy. This was one of the few times we’ve had spicy food in Spain and I realized that I miss this sensation. Black sea salt added a crunch with a burst of flavor.
Tartar de salmon con manzana verde (Salmon tartar with green apple). In this simple tartar, fresh raw salmon is mixed with diced green apple for a clean combination with a bright fruit touch. It doesn’t get much lighter and fresher than this and it works so perfectly with that glass of albarino.
Yeh, we’ve eaten all of these dishes. And we plan to try even more. This summer we’ll be spending lots of time on that terrace, because there are many sunny days ahead in Valencia and we’ll be craving that Crudo Bar bliss.
Plaza del Mercado, 36
Monday – Saturday 12:00 – midnight
Sundays 12:00 – 4:00PM