Eat-Everywhere’s 200th Post! A Feast for the Senses: Arzak Restaurant – San Sebastian, Spain

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Author: The Southern Kitten

Hi ya’ll! This is my first post on Eat-Everywhere! I’m a southern kitten transplanted to the big city and you will either learn to love my southern charm or gag on it. Either way, let’s start feasting! Meow!

At an average everyday meal one might entice two of the five senses, taste and smell. But indulging in an average meal at the gastronomic temple called Arzak sets every single sense on edge, trembling with excitement. The fact that we were even able to get a reservation at this three Michelin-starred restaurant made it even that much more fulfilling. I was in foodie heaven.

Traveling through a country such as Spain, a country steeped in authentic regional culinary history and known not only for its smooth wines and sherry but also for its communal indulgence of “pintxos,” is best accompanied by a fellow foodie. Even though my main squeeze is an amazing travel companion he is definitely not in love with food as much as I am, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying his pricey and decadent meal at Arzak. I’m so proud!

The restaurant itself is housed in a very unassuming building that would not even bother with a second glance. The interior of the restaurant is very modern, with concrete walls and a soft glow from the frosted windows. There are only eight tables on the first floor, maybe four-five more up a spiral staircase to the second level. Our lunch reservation began at 1:30pm and as the meal progressed each table was sat, but only once.

Our meal began with a flurry of snacks. We had barely ordered the house cocktail, white wine with amaretto and prosecco, when beautiful hors d’oeuvres began to arrive to our table. First was a creamy corn soup with fig and black pudding, but just a tiny taste. The second morsel we tried was fish wrapped in vermicelli and then flash fried to perfect little cocoons of tastiness. The next was a fresh strawberry skewer with anchovy and fish mousse. The salty and sweet and creamy textures blended together like nothing I’d ever tasted. It was at this point that I realized we were in for a culinary experience like no other.

Also on the hors d’oeuvres list was a goat cheese flavored with turmeric and a sassy display of gooseberries with fried coconut “chips,” skewered and placed into a perforated metal grill. But that’s not the best part of the gooseberry skewer, it’s what they did to it after it arrived to the table, and I am so angry at myself for not having my camera ready for this moment. They “infused” it with mint by pouring something into the bowl where the mint leaves were awaiting their duty under the metal grill, and it began to overflow with smoke, like a waterfall. It was so unexpected that I think we both let out an audible gasp. (Cue senses number three and four, seeing and hearing.)

Now we have finally arrived at the appetizers. For me, Crab with Anise Waves and for the man White Asparagus with Crispy Leeks. Even though the asparagus were tender and melt-in-your-mouth yummy, the crab app was by far the standout, see photo below. The crab was served three different ways on a light-up LED plate. Obviously every bit of it was delicious but the presentation would’ve sold even a stubborn foodie. The sharp licorice flavor of the anise was minimized because instead of a sauce or cream it was added upon arrival to the table by a mister, softly and cleverly spritzing flavor.

Our entrees were of course just as delectable as everything preceding. The man ordered Beef with Vegetable Screens and I enjoyed the Lamb with Red-Hot Chili Peppers. Both were cooked to perfection and were devoured without hesitation. The Beef was exceptional in the way it was plated, served on a transparent Lucite “tray,” it was delivered to the table with a digital screen of fire. The only way to explain this is to see the photo below. It was such a refreshing way to add dimension to a basic dish of beef.

The desserts that we enjoyed were a tease of textures. The pistachio stone with beetroot sauce looked like a bloody massacre on the plate (see photo) but oh boy, was it tasty. My dish was called Playing Marbles with Chocolate and they did indeed look like marbles. The best thing about these chocolate marbles was what happened when you bit into them. The makeup of the chocolate was just so that when the marble was cracked open by your teeth the chocolate inside turned instantly to liquid and flooded your mouth with pleasure. I know this sounds slightly erotic but it I swear it was almost just that. Thank you, Arzak! What a finale’!

The restaurant offered a tasting menu that I’m sure would have been the best way to fully experience everything Arzak has to offer but we were quite intimidated by the amount of food and frankly didn’t want to waste a morsel so we opted for an a la carte meal. The tasting menu was a whopping 179 euros, about $220, which is what we spent total on our a la carte meal, including each a house cocktail and each a glass of wine.

Arzak exceeded all of my expectations and deserves every one of its three Michelin stars. The staff was attentive and accommodating and we even had the chance to meet the chef, Juan Mari Arzak. If you get a chance to visit San Sebastian, Spain, and want to enjoy a meal at Arzak I recommend booking at least two months in advance. Salud!

Arzak – Avenida del Alcalde José Elosegi, 273, 20016, Donostia-San Sebastián, Guipuzcoa  Spain
Ph: 943 27 84 65

Checkout the Southern Kitten’s fashion blog at www.sherryjbrown.com


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