Restaurante Arzak

Before I begin sharing on our culinary feast I want to note that after three weeks of traveling and eating being one of our main activities, Arzak put us over the top.  It will be our last “gastronomic” meal of the trip.  I have zero desire to see a deconstructed plate again for some time.  Although I so do respect, appreciate, acknowledge and am at times blown away by these experiences they are overwhelmingly long, filling and rich.  It probably goes under the category of “do not try this at home but do go out and learn as well as enjoy the experience (if you can) once a year”.

So here we go.  The restaurant was humming when we got there at 915.  Surprising since most of the restaurants in Spain are still relatively empty at 930.  The restaurant is mostly filled with tables for two.  The backdrop is simple greys and whites.  Even the waitstaff has black/grey uniforms.  The sommelier has a black leather apron which is pretty cool if you ask me.

salmon:strThe first round is their mise bouche.  Small bites from the kitchen.  A perfect sweet strawberry paired with a slice of raw salmon and a dollop of ricotta that put it all together.  Really nice.

chickneeaChickpea and cured sausage rolled in panko and baked until crisp.  This was divine.  A combination of flavors that literally melted in your mouth.

tomatosoupEveryone always has to find something clever to do for these meals.  The bottle is filled with a creamy tomato gazpacho and a piece of prawn is stuck on the end.   You eat the prawn and in between take a few swigs of the soup.  I would take that soup in a little bowl too!

gyozaPrawn gyoza made with beets.  A Japanese flavored savory yet sweet dumpling.

tonicOn top of this tonic can which is only used for the chorizo tonic ravioli sitting on top of it.

onionThis is like shrimp toast made of onion skins.  Underneath this is a mixture of caramelized onions.  You scoop the onions into the puffed piece and eat it like an ice cream cone.

appleThinly sliced beetroot apple served with a creamy foie gras and apple chips.

lobsterGrilled pieces of lobster with a crispy cracked made of fresh greens and a zucchini flower.

crabCrab under a seaweed rock .

eggEgg with a crunchy shell,  port cheese, crispy milk leaves and cheese curds.  I just mixed this all up together and it really worked.  I scraped my plate clean on this one.

squidI really did not love any of the fish options so I picked something else off the menu.  The presentation of this is beautiful.  Grilled calamari served with squid ink in a large leaf.

mulletFred went with the red mullet with oak leaves and a shrimp stock.

pigeonMeat courses were up next.  Third time for me on this trip I chose pigeon.  Pigeon breast served with mixture of dried fruits and pumpkin, grape and sunflower seeds.  Kind of like a granola bar. The tower is honey and pine nuts.  The sauce down the middle is a rich brown sauce.  Really good.

lambFred had the lamb.  Lamb roasted and coated with sweet potato, fried manioc and lamb jus.

It was dessert time.  Earlier in the middle Elena Arzak made her rounds to each table.  Around dessert time, the father Juan Arzak, came and talked to everyone.  He doesn’t speak English so he brought along a translator.  He asked where we were from and then we talked NY restaurants.  He wanted to know why I knew them all.  I said I was sort of involved in food in NYC.  He asked for a list of who and then proceeded to tell me all about his 15 year incubator that focuses on new foods.  I figured I’d give him the whole list and wrote down every url from Eater to Food52 to Mouth to Rickspicks, Phin & Phebes, Mercaris, Platejoy, How Good and Kitchensurfing.  Why not, right?

chocolateThis was a big chocolate truffle and they poured a magical orange cream on top when they served this.  Right before your very eyes and truffle begins to melt.  It was amazing.

lemonI love lemon.  This is called black lemon.  Crispy black lemon made of chocolate with a sweet citrus cream and sprinkled with more lemon.

orangeThis was insane.  These tiny oranges are filled with an orange cream.  They implode when you slice into them.  Sitting on top of a crispy cracker topped with slices of fragrant mint leaves.

finaleIt was enough!  We did not even touch this plate although if you look closely someone spent a lot of time on this.  We took the screw and put it inside the nut just to see if it would fit.  It did.

Through out the meal we went with wine to match each courses.  I really paced myself and did not finish many of the dishes.  Fred did not.  It will be the last of the rich meals.  Never say never but right now we are saying enough.

The service was amazing.  The following morning as I was checking out they told me that Elena from Arzak wanted to speak to me.  I thought they had gone on line and went through the list.  LOL.  But no they realized they had over charged us and were so sorry and had sent the hotel the correct bill.  It was in the envelope that they gave me when I checked out.  That is amazing.  We would have never known.  Very very impressive.  We will most definitely be back to San Sebastian.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I bet you will love when in Lisbon a simple whole freshly caught fish, grilled, a bottle of Colares Malvasia and just using food to connect you to the people on the street.(I’m sure you know the city and have friends, if not I can connect you to a buddy who is my idea of what Lisbon and Porto is about.)I love over the top, I love simple, tasty, naturally delicious more.In food and wine both.

  2. William Mougayar

    Epic to say the least. Their creativity in combining foods never ceases to amaze me, at those levels. The food art is spectacular.I can totally relate that you’ve had enough of these types of meals after 3 weeks. It’s interesting when the owner or chef makes the rounds to meet each customer, after the meal. It’s like their performance is done, now they are coming to take a bow at your table, and talk a little- a lot in your case 🙂 In part they are trying to size you up too.Arzak and Mugaritz are top of mind for me, when it comes to San Sebastian.

    1. Gotham Gal

      it was between those two.

  3. Christine Vachon

    I ate at both (I was a guest of the film festival) and I appreciated Mugaritz but I LOVED Arzak

    1. Gotham Gal

      phew. i did research and all signs pointed to arzak.