Loidi Kalea, 4
We had a great time in Barcelona enjoying everything Iberico, razor clam, and tapas. The next leg of our adventure took us to the world renown foodie capital, just a 5 hour train ride north of Barcelona, San Sebastián. San Sebastián is a coastal city in the Basque region of Spain. It is home to a plethora of Michelin starred restaurants. It has its own distinct language and cuisine. Like with Barcelona, narrowing down the food options to optimize our 4 day visit was quite the first world problem. Martin Berasategui was a last minute reservation that came HIGHLY recommended by this couple we randomly met at a wedding. I certainly had my doubts, but I am glad I took a leap of faith. We were lucky to snag a last minute reservation for 9:30pm on a Thursday. Finding a taxi to get from downtown San Sebastian to Lasarte-Oria, turned out to be a lot harder than we expected. We didn’t arrive until 10pm, but they were still able to offer us the full tasting menu experience.
I’ve been burned by the bread course one too many times. I tried hard to keep the pre dinner carb loading in moderation. The savory bread with the olives, onions, tomatoes, and blue cheese was excellent. Overall, everything was fresh.
Butter mushroom, spinach, salted, beetroot
Enjoyed with the many flavors of butter, the bread made for an excellent vehicle for the delectable fats. Mushroom and spinach were my favorites.
Rhubarb Crunch tuna tartare, yuzu gel
Great contrast of textures and flavors. The brightness from the yuzu was just lovely.
Mille-Feuille of Smoked Eel foie gras, spring onions, green apple
The Annoyer enjoyed this more than I did. I found the eel to be a tad fishy, but the contrasting textures from the crispy mille feuille and smooth foie made for another interesting bite. The green apple lended the necessary sweet tartness to balance everything out. The Annoyer was a fan.
Tortilla “Gallo Celta” ham and truffle
I loved this single bite of explosive flavors. It was like a mini omelette with all the flavors of ham and truffle.
Red Shrimp Royale dill with venta del barón oil
Underneath the rich olive oil foam were fresh prawns and shellfish bisque sabayon. I loved this dish!
Caviar Gel pickles of asparagus and its cream, salted with añana’s salt
The salty caviar was contrasted against pickled asparagus and tempered by the asparagus cream. It was a wonderfully balanced dish.
Lightly Marinated Oyster iced cucumber slush, K5, spicy apple
The chef really knows how to contrast flavors to highlight the best in everything. Another job well done.
Tarama with Beetroot sour horseradish
Sweet beetroot was made into a thin jelly layer. The foam was made from tart rhubarb. The little logs were Greek-style salmon roe. The horseradish cream brought some kick. Altogether, it was a wide range of flavors that actually worked in the end.
Vegetable Hearts Salad seafood, cream of lettuce, iodized juice
I quite enjoyed this garden of sights and flavors. Asparagus, peas, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, lobster, and dots of different creams all atop of a tomato jelly made for such wonderful vegetal refreshing flavors. I loved it, but The Annoyer didn’t see the beautiful harmony as I did.
Langoustine anise sea-bed, coral mayonnaise
A tender, fresh, and sweet piece of langoustine sat in an ocean of seafood broths and dots of savory mayo, fennel cream, and seaweed cream. Beautiful.
“The Truffe” fermented wild mushrooms, collard greens, alma de jerez
Here, the menu started to take a heavier turn. There was actually no truffles in this dish. The dark lump was foie gras in the shape of a truffle. Mushroom foam and mushroom cream brought a nice earthiness.
Grilled Hake Loin coconut, red curry, liquid and crunchy razor clams
The hake was wrapped in Iberian pork. The red curry was a lovely twist to what had been a menu fairly dominated by European influences. I enjoyed the crunchy shrimp flavored chip. YUMS!
Charcoal Roasted Young Pigeon red endive, olive bites
The pigeon was a perfect medium rare. It was richly complemented by a portion of roasted pork tails, black olives, foie gras, and black cherries marinated in sherry. Dots of lemon curd, pigeon liver, and black cherries were wonderful contrasts of flavor. Another masterful creation.
Lemon with Basil Juice green bean, almond
The menu was nearly flawless. The desserts just knocked it out of the park. The whimsy of the presentation was not lost on me. What looked like a beautiful lemon was actually a white chocolate shell filled with sweet tart lemon cream.
It was marvelous. The basil juice was bright and herbaceous. The green beans were an interesting touch of textural contrast. YUMS!
Almond Honeycomb brittle bits, iced cinnamon
Almond and white chocolate were whipped into a honeycomb. Cinnamon ice cream and whiskey ice topped the whole thing off. Light and delightfully sweet. Like everything else in the menu, simple elegance radiated from this final course.
Eleven Madison Park, the #1 restaurant in the world as well as the #1 restaurant in my book, was simply outdone by Martín Berasategui. The creativity, execution, quality, service, ambiance, everything was outstanding and beyond all expectations. I suppose not knowing much about the place really set us up to be extra impressed. The only dish I did not care for was the mille-feuille. Aside from that, the meal was flawless. I really loved the balance of flavors and textures. The restaurant has been around since 1993, but the chef is still able to keep the style of his food very modern. Props to him! It’s simply a wonder why Martín Berasategui is only ranked #77 on the World’s Best list. It certainly ranks at the very top of my list. Sorry EMP!
10 – You NEED to eat here
9 – Awesome
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here