Social networks are so often antisocial but when they actually do the job it is a real treat. This was one such case – I met David, one of the chefs at Bagá a couple of years ago and through the miracle of the above mentioned networks managed to stay in touch. But the miracle didn’t end there: when I posted about a cracking dinner in Madrid recently David posed the excellent question: “when are you coming to Bagá?”. From there it was just a question of getting organized to get the nosebag on.
Now Bagá is in Jaén, capital of the least famous of Andalucia’s six provinces, which has its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantages are those of Jaén, which was a really pleasant surprise, with its castle, cathedral and moorish baths, and above all its utter devotion to the green gold of olive oil. The disadvantage is really only one – the distance from Madrid, but even the Michelin guide recognize that Bagá is a detour (**) and to be honest it is probably worth the trip.
It is a terrific little restaurant – and I mean really little, with only 9 seats in use on the day we had dinner: a bar for three and three tables of two. I gather that pre-covid the capacity was larger: you could probably get a full football team in as long as you didn’t have substitutes. The space is very homey too – in all I reckon it is no more than 50 square metres, and aside from that bar there is no barrier between the guests and the kitchen. The result gives you the impression you are having dinner at a friend’s house, and a friendly friend too. The atmosphere couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming.
It is also absolutely terrific. Dish after superb dish, some of them truly memorable: the quisquillas de Motril, the ajoblanco, the huevas, the pigeon sausage and the roasted peach, to name just the top five. Some really delightful creations and combinations, and like Jaén itself lots to discover and enjoy.
And of course all those solids need washing down and there were no worries on that score either. A really nice selection of champagnes and white wines, including some classy and classic wines from Jerez, Sanlucar and Montilla Moriles, expertly paired to the tastiest morsels. The standout wine on the night was probably Pandorga, perfect with both deserts and in particular the roast peach.
And all too soon it was over and we were off on our merry way, with Jaén and its friendly locals (three pictured above) in our rear view mirror. But not for long – Bagá is worth a detour, may well be worth the trip, and is certainly worth a second dinner!