Restaurant of the week: Güeyu Mar, grilled fish at the foot of Vega beach
The master domain of the grill of Abel Álvarez and the best fish of the Cantabrian. Come in and see.
Fish and seafood at the foot of the Asturian beach of Vega © Güeyu Mar
Product kitchen and a master domain of embers are the keys to understanding Abel's cuisine, which is embodied in a menu focused exclusively on Seafood
The facade of Güeyu Mar (güeyu means eye in Asturian), crowned by a monumental king, a fish that many Asturians feel practically as theirs as cider and which is also Abel's fetish fish, is just a preview of the first thing he expects when crossing the threshold of the door: a showcase in which the spectacular fish of the day are exhibited - most of them large.
Kings, groupers, turbot, sole, sea bass or monkfish abound, depending on the time of year.“Here fish is the main product, you don't have to know too much grilled. The grill is a way of cooking, it is one more ingredient, but I do not like that the fish are very smoked, there has to be a lot of subtlety, ”says the Spaniard.
And precisely that raw material of the best quality - from the aristocratic mere to the humble sardines -, cooked with that subtlety so difficult to achieve and that he embroiders on each plate with his mixture of talent, dedication and grilled experience, Güeyu Mar has very deservedly been placed on the map of the best grills in Spain.
Experience is vital to be able to cook grilled fish to the level that Abel does © Güeyu Mar
Sample of Abel's know-how is that his restaurant is recommended, among others, in the Michelin guide and the Repsol guide, as well as in the list of 100 Best Restaurants in Europe 2019 prepared by OAD (Opinionated About Dining).
The relatively short menu includes starters as from the house as lobster spatter or grilled sardines canned, seafood like barnacles or sores and fish like the mere king -It is essential to try it-, or the turbot.
The wine list, with hundreds of references, is to get lost in it. In it we find from Cangas wines, the only wine area of the Principality, to wines from the rest of Spain -from Galicia to the Canary Islands-, as well as international wines.
Remarkable is also the service of various breads, which includes the classic wheat bread, but also honey, chestnut or cornbreads, among others, a delight when you bathe in the extra virgin olive oil that is always on the table.
The apparent simplicity of their dishes, which are presented with hardly any dressings, with the fish as the absolute protagonist, reveals after the first bite the domain of Abel's embers, pure magic.
Seafood like barnacles or crabs and fish like grouper, king or turbot, impossible to choose! © Güeyu Mar
“A fish that you can put on the grill, mark it caramelized, that does not stick on the grill, is not so simple… you have to know how to do it. You have to know what kind of fish you make, because not everyone is worth it. And then you have to know how to put it on the grill ... once you put it on top you can't manipulate it with your hands because it undoes you. A chop, for example, half a minute more on one side or the other, the client does not notice it, but in the fish it does show, "says Abel.
The fish are accompanied with organic and seasonal vegetables, presented on separate plates.
Oak and oak wood, iron grills and steel grillesor where he carefully places the fish before cooking it, they are part of the open space in which Abel cooks, which he describes as almost primitive.
"We don't have a thermometer, It is a very primitive kitchen and you have a technique, yes, but there is another part that is intuition. And you do it because experience tells you things like one fish is faster than another, some have more fat than others ... ”he explains.
Fish are accompanied with organic and seasonal vegetables © Güeyu Mar
Experience is vital to be able to cook grilled fish to the level that Abel does. For more than a decade he worked at the La Parrilla restaurant, in nearby Ribadesella, where he acquired a great knowledge of the technique for cooking on plates.
In 2011, he and his wife, Luisa Cajigal (which currently runs a restaurant located five minutes walk from Güeyu Mar, El Miradoriu de la Playa, with a more affordable menu and options that go beyond the sea), they decided to go to the grill and leave the plates with which they had opened their restaurant Güeyu Mar in 2007.
After almost a decade in which in addition to perfecting his technique, he also got the public to accept a restaurant where only seafood is served -or meat, or rice, as it makes clear in his letter-, the team of Güeyu Mar is introducing a novelty: a charcoal oven for large pieces of fish.
“We are already making a piece, the fish heads, the nécoras… testing the technique, very complex. It’s very interesting because it is different from the grill, it is flavored with firewood ”, says Abel in a voice that seems to sing when talking about a new challenge.
Kings, groupers, turbot, flounder, sea bass or monkfish abound © Güeyu Mar
In a region with a cheese tradition as rooted as Asturias, the dessert section of the menu has winks to two of his most illustrious cheeses in the form of a cake, Gamonéu, one of the best blue cheeses in the world, and Afuega'l PituIn addition, desserts also include options such as rice pudding, nougat ice cream or fig ice cream.
The restaurant decoration is marine and rustic style, with exposed stone walls and details with which you can breathe sea, from decorative figurines to cutlery, which are shaped like a fish. In Güeyu Mar they have three spaces, a terrace located at the entrance, an interior room from which the action of Abel and his team is best seen to the grills, and an outer space, acclimatized and that feels like a terrace, despite being covered.
Before leaving the restaurant, do not forget to take one of the best gastronomic memories that money can buy in Asturias: Canned grilled sardines, a marvel of limited production. In them, Abel has managed to capture the essence of his grilled cuisine in a can of sardines.
Product kitchen and a master domain of embers © Güeyu Mar
It is also worth arriving a little earlier -or reserve a while at the end-, to stroll along the beautiful sandy beach of Vega beach. Located two minutes walk from the restaurant, it is an immense and almost virgin beach that does not know the massification and in which the sunsets are a true spectacle
Likewise, you have to let yourself be captured by the landscape during the short route that separates Güeyu Mar from the highway (A-8), just four kilometers away. The road crosses the sickles of Entrepeñas, sharp rock formations, molded by the Acebo stream and like the beach, declared a natural monument.
And finally, it runs along small orchards with fruit trees and little houses that in summer they are a party of color thanks to the hydrangeas and bougainvillea that bring joy to their gardens.
A crayfish with sea views? © Güeyu Mar
Playa de Vega, 84, 33560 Ribadesella, Asturias
985 860 863