San Sebastian is top of my ‘to visit’ list, predominantly because of the unbeatable culinary scene. But if you haven’t got the time to fly to the Spanish coast and want feast on Basque food head to Belgravia to taste the flavours at The Halkin Hotel’s restaurant, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction.
The restaurant is a collaboration between Elena Arzak and her father Juan Mari Arzak, along with Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez. They have worked closely together to present a unique representation of modern Basque cuisine.
This smart restaurant suits the area perfectly, and it is easy to see why the £29 lunch menu is so popular with local business or weekday catch-ups with friends. As we sat down at a light window table I I looked up to see an impressive installation of 7000 large test tubes filled with various spices.
The lunch menu begins with an assortment of dainty Spanish tapas: Pork & Pineapple sticks, Crab Tempura with Coral and Black Ink Squid. Each dish was bite-sized, a little explosion of flavour and texture. Our particular favourite was the Crab, which melted in the mouth, a delicious taste of the sea.
The main courses were simple and sophisticated, each plate showcasing a few fine ingredients. Mackerel on Banana ‘Escabeche’ was an unusual dish, a fresh seafood recipe with a hint of exoticism from the fruit element. I enjoyed the Chicken with Corn Truffle, a more complex dish with beautifully tender chicken and a lovely smokiness from the corn, I also loved the tiny crispy potato chips served on the served.
Spanish aren’t well known for their desserts, aside from sweet snacks like churros. Ametsa presented us with two interesting puddings: a Chocolate and Candy-Floss bundle with felt apart when the sauce was poured over it, and Orange Toast with Spinach, a kind of soft fruity eggy bread. I can’t say I loved either dish, but both were blissfully light, and offered a sweet sugar kick that I so often crave at the end of a meal.
I left this wondrous restaurant with even more anticipation and excitement about one day visiting the foodie land of San Sebastian, and trying more food of this calibre and style.
More information and book a table at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction here.