Maitenia (Ciboure)

© Louis Triol

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Sébastien Juanicotena and Maxime Berdou, the owner and shopkeeper of the Saint-Jean-de-Luz wine shop Notre Sélection, brought their corkscrews to a space across from the Fronton de Ciboure, to the emblematic Maitenia – 1970s tiling, exposed stone walls, marble tables and a green bar. There, aficionados can pop open something clean to drink and nibble on well-made plates by Fréderic Vilgicquel (already spotted at Etxe Nami), with backup from Hugo Carre (ex-Pigeons Blancs in Saint-Jean-de-Luz). Like the day we went for lunch: mussels in a beurre blanc sauce or butternut squash velouté with a soft-boiled egg; perfectly prepared line-caught hake in a warm salmorejo (Andalusian gazpacho), with steamed eggplant and zucchini, raw celery and purple basil, or chicken in a creamy vin jaune sauce, with polenta and sweet peppers. For dessert, opt for the chocolate mousse or the roasted figs with goat’s milk faisselle cheese and grape crumble. At night, they serve raciones: head cheese, Mexican-style tuna, octopus à la gallega… // Gérard Roubeix

FEELING THIRSTY? : A hundred and fifty living wines from France and Spain: Aus, a Catalan pet’ nat’ from Pujols-Busquet (€6 a glass), Les Molates, a Jura chardonnay from Éric and Bérengère Thill (€35 a bottle), Ornicar, a minervois from Jean-Baptite Senat (€40) or Exteko Bob’s Beer (€3.50 on tap).  
PRICE: : Set menu €19-22 (lunch), raciones €6-11 (dinner). 

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