Restaurant Review - Arzak, San Sebastian
Well Earned Rest & Relaxation In the middle of December my sweetheart Elsa and I found ourselves in Elorrio, nestled in the Basque mountains between Bilbao and San Sebastian. Usually at this time of the year we travel to this picturesque part of Spain to visit Elsa's mother, Susi. Along with our daughter Charlotte, we stay with Susi but call further up the mountain to visit Elsa's brother and his family. Our daughter Charlotte usually travels with us and has been spending time here in Spain with her grandparents since she was an infant. Working Up An Appetite....
I have been to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria and Madrid on work related trips and team building packages. Whatever the reason it is always good to get to this part of the world and even better when it is for some well earned rest & relaxation. This year, Elsa and I left the car in a nearby town called Bergara and hopped on the very efficient hourly coach service to San Sebastian. By the way, it was nearly lunchtime so Elsa and I picked up a delicious Serrano ham and sliced Basque sheep's cheese baguette. This tasty treat, I kid you not, would have fed a small family and cost €3. We arrived in San Sebastian at 2pm, quite near to Hotel Maria Cristina. Whilst the Cantabrian Sea was charging wild white horses, it was 24 degrees and the sun was shining strong. Elsa and I took a walk along the beach and remembered a mutual friend who has gone to a higher place but had been very fond of this elegant city.
Fabulous Service After a quick coffee we decided to take a chance and hop in a taxi and head for "Arzak restaurant". The doorman in front of the modest building opened the car door, welcomed us and motioned us toward the opened restaurant door and into the lounge. Immediately we were seen to and were asked what name our reservation was under. Elsa explained, as my Spanish is still improving, that we had no reservation and were hoping that they might have a table available. After conferring with his colleague, the maitre 'd confirmed the good news that our table would be ready in just a few minutes. We took a seat in the simple but stylish bar. Before long, we were escorted to our table which was on the second floor and one of three tables in this section of the restaurant. There was ample room for privacy if required, Our neighbours to the left were visitors from New Mexico who were thoroughly enjoying the experience and the charming lady not shy about sharing this fact. On the right was a couple from Australia who were driving from France and headed for Madrid, also were basking (pardon the pun) in the relaxed, friendly and graceful atmosphere. They had decided to spend a few days here in San Sebastian.
Fantastic staff and fabulous food
The Menu We ordered the chef's tasting menu as below: Restaurant Arzak Menu Puding de kabrarroka con kataifi Physalis con coco Alubia, tocino y castaña Chorizo con tonica Pipas con arraitxiki Cromlech de mandioca y huitlacoche Suflado de mandioca hidratada con huitlacoche relleno de una prepparacion de cebolla, te Verde y Foie (most incredible, unforgettable flavors) Mostaza de cañamo y bogavante Bogavante salteado y acompañado de finas tostas de semillas de cañamo y vinagreta de mostaza Merluza pitonisa verde Lomo de pescado acompañado de bola verde crujiente Sojapato Pato azulon asado junto con variedades y elaboraciones varias de soja Jugandoa las canicas de chocolate Canicas de chocolate con amaranto y natilla de oregano Manzana Negra Manzana salteada que finalizara con aspecto de trufa con orejon osmotizado After our delicious lunch Elsa had tea and I opted for coffee. Our fellow diners, Elsa and myself were simply beaming with joy. Its a funny thing but this a seriously pleasant experience. Perhaps it is indulgent and perhaps it is not the most important thing in life, but this writer believes that learning about what we eat and how good it can be and appreciating the work involved is a positive thing. Elsa and I do eat out a regular basis but we reserve Michelin standard restaurants for special occasions.
Coincidentally the following day Amama Susi cooked Merluza (Hake fish) for dinner which was served in a light sauce with cockles in their shells and whilst the presentation was more rustic, the fish was very similar in texture and flavours were very near to that we had enjoyed on the previous day in beautiful San Sebastian.
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