El Puertito, the oyster bar that has been triumphing in Bilbao for a decade with its innovative concept, has just settled in Madrid (Martínez Campos, 42). This is the second establishment of this brand opened by its owner Inaz Fernández (Bilbao in 1969) with the purpose of offering the public a wide variety of premium oysters at an affordable price.

The trajectory of this business starts in 2013, when the Basque businessman opted to open in Bilbao, contrary to what his relatives advised, the first oyster bar in Spain, a place dedicated exclusively to the sale and consumption of this mollusk. He did it in one of the busiest streets of the city at the time of poteo (going to bars or wines) and although it was very risky, he was successful from the first day. "Bilbao is a city where people go from bar to bar, drinking wines, beer and pinchos, so my idea was to sell oysters as if they were pinchos, so that you could have one with a wine with friends. Oysters and drink. Just that," says Inaz.

Inaz Fernandez

El Puertito was a revolution in the way of eating oysters in our country; Something that was seen as a luxury or exclusive was made available to everyone. In the premises you could order units at market prices (from 1 euro per piece) and you could also buy them to take home already open or closed. "At that time there was nothing like it; At first it sounded strange that a bar only sold oysters, but the thing worked from minute one. On the day of the inauguration I gave away 700 oysters, it was raining, but the street was full of people." Today it is a reference not only in Bilbao, but also in Spain and abroad. It has a Repsol solete and has been published in guides in the United States or Japan. The opening in Madrid is another step in the expansion of the brand.

From Galician to Irish

One of the keys to success is the quality of the oysters and the variety. It started with eight types and now has about 14 classes (some more in summer) from Spain and the rest of Europe. "I started buying from national suppliers, from Asturias, Cantabria, the Ebro Delta, Galicia, but the market was very limited. I had a hard time finding different varieties at a good price. Little by little I reached higher levels of distribution, until finally, I contacted directly with oyster farmers throughout Europe. Since then, I go to the oyster parks, I know the product from its origin and I see the cultivation process during the 3 or 4 years it lasts. That allows me to have better buying and selling prices, and make sure that the quality is optimal, "says Inaz.

The newly opened place in Madrid, where there is also a stand with all the oysters as in a market, as well as tables with a capacity for 60 people, has varieties from Holland, Ireland, France, Portugal ... From Spain they only sell the Galician flat, which is the most popular (3.90 euros). "We have brought in the past from other national sites, but not anymore, because they do not end up selling well, I do not know why," says Inaz. Among the types that can be enjoyed now in El Puertito are from the exclusive Regal gold selection, a French brand grown in Ireland in a limited way (5.40 euros / unit) to the classic and typical to eat daily, the French Fines de Claire (at 1.90 euros / unit), or the one that sells the most, the Gillardeau, which is what the chefs have declared as the best in the world (from 3.90 euros, depending on the caliber).

Imaz is aware that the way to go out of bars in Bilbao is different than in Madrid, so the concept of Martínez Campos' place is a little different. The bar is a little bigger, with a casual atmosphere and good music. Apart from being able to eat oysters on the premises, there will be delivery and take away service, they can be bought to take home (they are prepared open or closed). For those who decide to consume them there, they propose several raw preparations, such as acevichada oyster, also with tiger milk... "There is a dynamic menu that will change for weeks and seasons with different presentations," accompanied by another of wines, champagnes and beers.

The space will also host different events, tastings, courses and talks related to the world of oysters. Another line of business that has been running almost since the beginning is oyster catering for events. Weddings, private parties, companies, etc. "We go with a stand with crushed ice and open them at the moment in front of the guests."

How to eat oysters

According to Inaz, purists take it alone, with nothing, but the most common is to add a few drops of lemon. Some also throw a little tabasco. In El Puertito, oyster lovers who want to experiment can also accompany them with wasabi powder or shichimi tgarashi, a very typical condiment of Japanese cuisine. "He's having a lot of success."

As for the drink, "always with a good white wine, champagne or beer, which goes very well to the oyster; " in fact, in Ireland it is typical and they organize festivals and oysters with beer throughout the year," concludes Inaz.

El Puertito

Where: García Rivero, 9, Bilbao (Tel. 944 026 254). General Martínez Campos, 42, Madrid (Tel. 915 427 526


Website: www.elpuertito.es

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