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San Sebastián: Mugaritz (Nov. 2013)

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Author: Victor
Exec Chef: Andoni Luis Aduriz
Website: www.mugaritz.com/?id=en

November 1, 2013

Mugaritz has been on list for a long time now, and I finally got the chance to eat here when I stopped by Spain. It’s located among very green hills, about a 15- to 20-minute taxi ride from San Sebastián. The restaurant actually wasn’t fully booked when I ate there (granted, it was a Thursday afternoon in the end of October…), so I don’t think reservations there are TOO hard to make in the fall.

Chef Aduriz has a really interesting philosophy about food. I won’t bore you with the details; you can look it up on the website if you’re interested. (You should read about it!)

2A View

The restaurant sets up a tasting menu for each table, and they apparently customize it depending on the season and how fresh the produce and ingredients are. Some dishes are standard for each meal (I googled them haha), but the kitchen staff also mixes and matches a lot depending on what ingredients they want to use. As a result of this philosophy, the tables around me had some of the same courses, but they also had some different courses that I wanted to try. (I’m sure they thought the same thing of some of the dishes I got.) I like how different tables eat different things; it keeps an element of surprise for your own meal.

I should also mention that the restaurant closes from January to April for “creative brainstorming”. During that time, cooks focus on bringing Chef Aduriz’s ideas to life and preparing for the next season’s dishes.

The food here was inspirational, and the wait staff was very warm and friendly. Everyone here just seemed happy to be there, and the food seemed to reflect that. (I know I’m being cheesy a bit, but I truly believe that!) Anyway, here’s what I ate!

Click here to see pictures of the great meal!

Berlin: Tim Raue (Oct. 2013)

October 29, 2013 3 comments

Author: Victor
Exec Chef: Tim Raue
Website: http://www.tim-raue.com/index.php?task=restaurant&section=aktuelles&lang=en

October 29, 2013

I wanted to try a great restaurant while in Berlin, so I looked around Chowhound a bit. The name Tim Raue came up a lot, so I checked out the menu, was intrigued, and promptly made reservations!

The restaurant was only about half-full, and even online I was able to make dinner reservations for all of the days I was in Berlin. Maybe people just don’t eat at fancy restaurants on weekdays in Berlin… It makes me a little sad, because with the quality of the food this restaurant would be full on a Tuesday night in NYC (or HK haha).

There are three options: you can order a la carte, the seasonal tasting menu (4-6 courses), or the “unique” menu (their fancy one). I went with the “unique” one because I wanted to see the best they had to offer. The items I was particularly excited to try included the partridge and Peking duck, but the langoustine ended up surprising me—it was very well cooked, and the concept was perfectly executed.

The meal had hints of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, AND Vietnamese cooking. It’s pretty bizarre… Somehow, though, Chef Raue makes it all work well!

Click here to see pictures of the wonderful meal!

Copenhagen: Geranium (Oct. 2013)

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Author: Victor
Exec Chef: Rasmus Kofoed
Website: http://geranium.dk/#/en/restaurant/welcome/

October 25, 2013

I’m kind of posting out of order here. I have some past meals from Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Copenhagen that I should be covering, but I already have this post ready… so I’m just going to publish it! (I don’t know how long the Noma posts are going to take…)

Geranium’s a name I hear get mentioned alongside Noma a lot when people talk about the best restaurant in Copenhagen, and after eating there I can see why. The flavor and ingredient combinations are exciting and very technically precise. Also, the plating is gorgeous—the presentation of each course was very beautiful. I can see why some people believe that Geranium is as good as Noma. Chef Rasmus Kofoed is a vegetarian, and that seemed to shine through in this meal. It wasn’t very protein-heavy at all, and in a lot of ways it was just as, if not more, vegetable-focused as Noma was.

Geranium reservations are a LOT easier to get than Noma ones. You have to make your reservation three months in advance at a specific time for Noma, while I made my Geranium reservations on the same week. We went for lunch, though, and I’m not sure how easy dinner reservations are to make—during our lunch, the restaurant actually wasn’t even full. There’s slightly more food for dinner, but apparently the lunch tasting menu is close enough. (I mainly chose lunch because of the lighting. Pictures of food during dinner for my iPhone are always terrible haha.)

The restaurant’s on the eighth floor, and it has a beautiful view of the surrounding area. There’s a lot of green to look at, and eating in the fall allowed us to see a wide range of vibrant colors. The view actually reminded me a lot of Per Se’s view of Columbus Circle and Central Park.

The service here felt a lot more formal than Noma’s. Everyone in Noma seemed super happy and laidback, while the staff at Geranium exuded more of a formal dining aura—kind of what I’m used to at Per Se in NYC. The staff is still really nice, though, and they’re still more laidback than, for instance, waiters at the stricter French restaurants in NYC or Europe.

You get two options of tasting menus for lunch, a longer 3-hour tasting or a shorter 2-hour tasting. Naturally, we went for the longer version. Lunch was a mix of canapés to be eaten with our hands and individual courses. There wasn’t necessarily a strict transition from canapés to actual courses, but the closest to an actual “transition” would be when they give out the bread.

Click here to see pictures of the great meal!