San Sebastián: Akelarre (Nov. 2013)
Exec Chef: Pedro Subijana
November 3, 2013
Akelarre (or Akelaŕe) was the last of the restaurants that I had on my list for San Sebastián, and it was also the last meal I had before heading to Barcelona. The restaurant itself has a wonderful view of the sea, so try to reserve a seat near the window if you get the chance. Most tables are near the window and have a view of the water, though you should try to avoid any of the tables farthest from the window—they don’t really have a view of the water
You have an option of three tasting menus: a land-based one, water-based one, and one with some of the Akelarre’s classics. I went with the classics (even though I generally like “newer” dishes) because I wanted to try what helped make this restaurant and Chef so famous. I also added the suckling pig as a supplement because it just sounded so dang good haha.
1. Oyster leaf with reduction of chocolate white wine.
2. Mussel you eat with the shell and obulato stuffed with shrimps.
3. Sponge with uni cream.
4. “Beach pebbles” made from shallot, onion, and corn.
5. Codium seaweed tempura (made to look like coral and taste like barnacles).
-With sand made from prawn.
The uni sponge was excellent. The outside was crispy, and biting into it gave way to creamy uni. Mmm.
“Porous of Foie Gras, Toasted Peanut Bread”
Cold foie gras in an ethereal and porous texture, peanut toasted biscuit, little foie gras pearls, sour herbs, and hibiscus reduction.
The porous foie gras was very light, both in texture and flavor, and also VERY cold. The pearls were a nice contrast in that they were slightly warmer and had a stronger foie taste—the result, though, was that they were also a lot richer. Fortunately, the peanut toasted biscuit provided some nice contrast to both types of foie. The biscuit was hard and crispy, helping to cut down on the creaminess of the foie, while the nuttiness helped counter—and complement—the foie taste.
Of all the foie gras dishes I’ve had in my life, this might be my favorite.
“Lobster Salad with Cider Vinegar”
Steamed lobster with mesclun and apple cider vinegar.
This description really doesn’t do justice to how amazing the lobster was… The dish wasn’t nearly as complex as TK’s lobster dishes, but I thought the lobster itself came very close in terms of flavor.
It was actually pretty light, so I’m surprised at how they managed to pack so much flavor without making it seem rich at all.
Carnaroli rice with snails and periwinkles. Served with tomato and basil “film” and basil sauce.
This was delicious, but it felt more homey than anything else. It didn’t seem as complex or refined as the porous foie gras dish or the upcoming beef course. It reminded me of the lobster salad—not as complex but decadently delicious.
“Whole-Grain Red Mullet with Sauce ‘Fusilli'”
Red mullet fillet, head and bone’s praline, liver, and onion. Served with fusilli that are stuffed with ajo blanco, soy, or parsley.
They said that the red mullet was “whole-grain” because they use the whole red mullet, including the head, bones, and liver.
Grilled carved beef with juice from its meat, cake that is made from the tail and foie gras and that is topped with a little cacao, and coppered potato “chips” with piquillo peppers.
The beef had a great caramelized exterior, and the interior was juicy and flavorful. The tail cake was creamy and only increased the overall richness of the course (it was a combo of tender tail and foie!), and only the coppered potato chips seemed to refresh my palate.
“Roasted Suckling Pig with Tomato ‘Bolao’ and Iberian Emulsion”
Roasted suckling pig, tomato “bolao” (made from tomato meringue and tomato powder), tomato, stuffed garlic and vegetables with honey, Iberian emulsion, thyme, and potato soufflé (shaped like a baby pig).
According to the restaurant, “[to] get a crispy and juicy texture, the baby pig is cooked in Iberian broth and finished in the oven.”
This one was a little disappointing. The pork just wasn’t that juicy and flavorful as I’d have liked. This dish probably seemed worse in my eyes because I had just had the beef and tail cake (that also had foie) dish, and that one was succulent and rich.
“Gin & Tonic on a Plate”
Jelly (representing gin and tonic), juniper sauce (representing gin perfume), and lemon sorbet.
“A Different Apple Tart”
Toasted puff pastry, apple cream, puff pastry praline, and edible apple paper.
I’m not sure how I feel about the advertising on the paper. Yeah, the chef should be able to do what he wants. However, it seems a little… tacky to do this. Also, putting the name of the restaurant all over the paper adds nothing to the dish. It kind of reminds me of adding gold sprinkles to a dish just to make it seem more luxurious…
Still, I have to admit that the dessert was definitely a creative—and tastier—redo of the apple tart that we know and love. They don’t even use fresh apples for the dessert, but they made it even more flavorful than great apple tarts. It was a delicious way to finish the meal!
-Strawberry pâte de fruit.
-Mint chocolate macaron.
The opinions of Akelarre on Chowhound are mixed; some seem to have great experiences, while others have terrible ones. I personally thought this meal was amazing. The food was fun, playful, and delicious, and the presentation of each dish was spectacular. The wait staff was really warm, and Chef Subijana seemed very easy to talk to. Also, eating with that AMAZING view gave the meal some bonus points hahaha. And that porous foie with the foie pearls dish was absolutely divine. I would come back to San Sebastián just to have that again!
This is my last meal in San Sebastián, and I’m glad I came. I had an unforgettable experience! In the future, I’m definitely going to come back and try one of their more current menus.