“We lunched upstairs at Botín’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.”
–Ernest Hemingway, in The Sun Also Rises
It’s called Botin, and it’s been serving meals since 1725, which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, makes it the world’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. Among its many claims to fame—OMG, Nancy Reagan Dined Here!—Francisco de Goya worked at Botin as a waiter before being accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.
So of course it was on my list.
Sopa de ajo con huevo is garlic soup, with egg. The egg was added raw, and cooked by the heat of the stock. The soup had a mild, not terribly garlicky taste.
Botin’s signature dish is Cochinillo asado, aka Suckling Pig, roasted in the restaurant’s original 300-year-old wood-fired oven. With a side of potatoes, it couldn’t get any more basic than this.
The best part of the meal: Cheesecake with white chocolate.
The food was fine, but not terribly memorable, except for that cheesecake with white chocolate. Despite Hemingway’s claim that Botin is “one of the best restaurants in the world”, well, he wrote that almost 100 years ago, and things change. Today, you dine at Botin not for the food, but for the history.