Nov 8 2013

Ametsa with Arzak instruction


Arzak is one of the best restaurants in the world (it has 3 Michelin stars) and is located in San Sebastian, where the best female chef (as voted in 2012 by the St Pellegrino awards) Elena Arzak works with her father Juan Mari Arzak. Ametsa is a collaboration restaurant located in London, by Hyde Park, that has been influenced by the cooking of the Arzak family and the restaurant. Although many times Elena and Juan have said they don’t want Ametsa to be exactly like Arzak and a sister restaurant, Ametsa is influenced by Arzak, but there is only one Arzak. Ametsa opened in the spring 2013 and has been one of the most anticipated openings of this year. It is located in the Halkin hotel, by Hyde Park Corner and has recently won 1 Michelin star. Ametsa, just like Arzak, present ‘New Basque Cuisine’, pairing the earthy flavours and techniques of Spain’s Basque region with modern, surprising twists featuring locally-sourced and organic produce.

I had been wanting to go to Ametsa for a very long time but something always came up and I kept postponing my reservation, but I finally managed to go there with my friends Alina and Karen and my boyfriend for a nice dinner on a Friday evening. We had an early dinner reservation for 6.30 and when we arrived (I was running super late due to a fault with the Jubilee line, so I arrived at 7.00) the restaurant was empty and we were the only people there. By the time we left at 9, the restaurant was about 2/3 to ½ full. I was a bit surprised at first that it was so empty as I always feel sort of uneasy when I am the only person in the restaurant and there is too much attention on me, and I am doubting whether the place is any good, if there is no one there, so I was happy that more people arrived.

The interior is interesting. There are white tablecloths, tables not close together, so it can feel a bit quiet and the restaurant has a sort of “haute cuisine” feel to it, it is not lively and fun, but I very much liked the wave like ceiling in the room, created from 7000 glass receptacles filled with spices, this sort of gives the place a trendy feel. The interior has been designed by London-based Ab Rogers Design, who took inspiration from the raw aesthetic of the original Arzak restaurant.

You could either have a tasting menu (for £105) or order a la carte and we ordered our food a la carte. Before I had arrived the waiter apparently had explained the rest of the dinner group about all their dishes and their signature dishes and Alina said that he was great and thorough and took great interest. I also have to say service was great throughout the meal. I usually get very annoyed when waiters interrupt conversations with questions about the menu or when they try to tell you about the dish, but here the waiters were super attentive and only approached us when we were not in the middle of the conversation. Also in the end we had to rush and we asked for the bill and they were quick to give it to us and also quickly served us the desert when we had asked for it.

Before we got our starters and main courses, the waiter brought us some bread as well as four different types of amuse bouche. I had a bit of the dark bread (you could chose which one to have) and I very much liked the amuse bouche, they were interesting and top Michelin standard. We were told to start with caramelized tomato amuse bouche and then move clockwise and taste all the rest, and they sort of increased in strength of flavour as you went further, starting with the lightest one and ending with the strongest flavoured one. After the tomato, I tasted a crispy cod skin which was delicious and I have had other crispy fish skins before and this was definitely one of the best. The next amuse bouche was a mousse wrapped into crispy banana, which was quite nice but my favourite one (and the strongest in flavour) amuse bouche was the last one, chorizo wrapped in angels hair sort of amuse bouche. Very tasty

Starters in Ametsa range from £14.50 to £16.50 and main courses from £27 to £39. My friend Karen ordered “Vieiras Con Mandioca Souffle’” or Scallops with cassava souffle and he got three beautifully cooked, crispy from the outside scallops with some sauce covering them. The rest of us ordered King prawns, Spider Crab and Sweet Corn or “Atillo de Langostinos “Txangurro” y Maiz Dulce” which were covered with sort of crispy noodles, which were a bit strange to eat, but it was an ok starter. Overall thought we all enjoyed our meal.

My boyfriend and Karen ordered “Ox cheek with vanilla” as their main course and the ox cheek was super soft and nice and served with a potato, both of them really enjoyed the dish. Alina ordered John Dory with red root “mojo” or “San Pedro con Mojo de Raices Rojas” and the waiter had apparently explained that the sauce would be intense and go well with John Dory and almost made it sound like it could be too overpowering, when Alina did not think it was. She enjoyed the dish though. I chose a dish called “Following the duck’s footprint” or “Tras las Huellas de Pato” and in a very cute little manner I got a duck (which they recommended serving rare) and next to it little footsteps made as if a duck had made them, very cute. The duck was delicious. I had asked for it to be medium/ rare, and I was surprised how nice it was cooked so little as I usually go for more well cooked duck. And I also got a side salad with fois gras which was quite interesting, the fois gras was rich and there was a lot of it versus the salad.

The boys also decided to get a desert, “Pastel Fluido De Chocolate Con “Piquillos Helados”” or Chocolate fondant with piquillo ice cream. It was so interesting to taste the ice cream, which tasted like piquillo peppers, it was very intense and delicious and strange tasting. The chocolate fondant was also delicious, chocolaty and soft in the middle.

My meal at Ametsa was very good (my favourite bit was the amuse bouche which I thought were excellent, super top quality) and I loved the Spanish influence in the food. However it was not one of my top meals in London and I thought I would be getting more from an Arzak inspired restaurant.

Date: 08/ 11/ 13
Price for 4 people with alcohol and service charge: £316.70
Location: Hyde Park Corner

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Ametsa with Arzak instruction
Halkin Hotel, 5 Halkin Street SW1X 7DJ
United Kingdom
Ametsa with Arzak instruction Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 4