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.
Exec Chef: Juan Mari and Elena Arzak
November 2, 2013
Arzak was stop #3 on my list of San Sebastián destinations, and I was a little apprehensive about whether I’d have enough space to eat—I had just finished lunch at Martin Berasategui a few hours ago! (I ended up having more than enough space… I’m getting way too fat for my own good haha.)
Arzak’s east of the city centre, and it’s located right on a major street. There’s no romantic taxi ride with beautiful green scenery like the one you take to Mugaritz. On the other hand, it’s close, easy to get to, and NOT in the middle of nowhere haha.
The restaurant doesn’t feel pretentious at all. The wait staff is pretty friendly, and Chefs Juan Mari and Elena come out pretty often to greet and talk to the guests. Elena came out quite a bit to discuss different dishes with the guests, which I thought was awesome. She gives a lot of insight into the cultural influences and creative ideas behind dishes, and she does it in a very understandable way with no hint of pretense. Juan Mari also came out to greet guests, and he felt more like a jovial grandfather who has accomplished a lot and is just chilling. And let’s be honest—the man is a living legend haha (grandfather of “New Basque Cuisine” and all that).
The menu has an à la carte option as well as a tasting menu. The tasting menu is seven courses, and it starts with around five amuses-bouche. Some of the courses have two options. You can choose between two appetizers, two seafood courses, two main courses (meat or poultry), and two final desserts. Of course, you’re free to supplement more dishes if you feel like eating more (and, more important, trying more of their cooking!). As for myself, I chose to get both meat AND poultry for two main courses haha; I really wanted to try both. I was craving lamb, and the pigeon at Martin Berasategui was disappointing—I was hoping the pigeon at Arzak would end up being AMAZING so that it could counter the terrible-ness of MB’s pigeon (and it did!).
Exec Chef: Martin Berasategui
November 2, 2013
For my third day in San Sebastián, I planned to eat lunch at Restaurante Martin Berasategui (“MB”) and then dinner at Arzak. MB is a short 10- to 15-minute taxi ride away from San Sebastián, and it’s located in Lasarte-Oria.
The restaurant’s small and intimate, and it also feels a lot classier (and more formal) than Mugaritz and Arzak. Everything about this restaurant screams fine dining. Waiters are pretty formal, the restaurant is relatively quiet and calm, and customers are dressed nicely. The waiters all walk around in jackets, they all have great posture, and most were pretty stiff. I kind of wish the service was warmer—by contrast, the people at Mugaritz seemed a lot happier and more genuinely friendly, while those at Arzak seemed more genuinely interested in serving you.
In contrast to the wait staff, Chef Berasategui seemed incredibly friendly and jovial. He’s in the restaurant a lot, and he apparently tries to stop by every table and say hi. Unfortunately, he couldn’t speak English (more important, I can’t speak Spanish haha), so I couldn’t really talk to him. Oh well!
Oh, and one last thing—my pictures kind of suck because of the weird lighting. It was really cloudy today, and each table also had a light above it that created some weird lighting in my pictures.