You may be officially in France when you are in Biarritz, but eat at Bar Jean and the heavy Basque influences mean that you could easily be in Spain. Bar Jean was recommended to us by friends who had spent some time in Biarritz previously. They told us to make a reservation which was great advice as Bar Jean is permanently packed to the gills with a mainly local crowd.
The restaurant is tucked away in a side street and is made up of an assortment of linked rooms which all spill onto a large pavement seating area. To start we try an assortment of tapas from the menu including some crunchy and well seasoned salt and pepper squid. However, we don’t even need to look at the menu to order our mains once we spy the giant paella pans gracing most tables. The paella is about €15 per person and we opt for a huge seafood version to serve the six of us. This is proper paella with saffron yellow rice and plenty of prawns, mussels, tender pieces of chicken and spicy chorizo. It is one of those dishes that you think you have no hope in hell of finishing but somehow in a joint team effort you manage to.
Desserts exhibit more of a French leaning, featuring creme brulee. MTV boyfriend is the expert on creme brulee and declares that Bar Jean’s version does not have a thick enough caramel coating. We should have skipped dessert and followed the locals lead by just ordering another bottle from the great local wine list. This is a bar after all and pretty soon the crowd has reached a raucous level. One of the patrons actually falls over in the street they are so drunk, which is not the sort of behaviour you usually see in France but it seems like Bar Jean is that kind of bar. The place is so atmospheric that I can’t say I object.
Details: 5 Rue Des Halles, Biarritz, France (Ph 05 5098 3827)
If you are in Biarritz you must also go to the Les 100 Marches bar which is an outdoor bar overlooking the beach in Biarritz.
Details: Cote de Basques, 6400 Biarritz, France (Ph 05 5924 7581)