Arzak Review, San Sebastian, Spain

Reviewer: Foodnut.com

Arzak

Alcalde J. Elosegi Hiribidea, 273

Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain, CA 20015

+34 943 27 84 65

Arzak Website

Arzak San Sebastian Exterior decor

Some call this place the Best in the world! San Sebastian is teeming with Michelin Stars, some of the higher number in one area.  We chose two 3 star restaurants for our trip, Arzak and Martín Berasategui. This was primarily driven from research and recommendations from others.  Mugaritz was one 3 star restaurant that many people discouraged us from dining at.

Arzak San Sebastian interior decor

Arzak is a legendary 3 Michelin star foodie outpost run by a Father – Daughter team.  Just outside of San Sebastian, about 10 minutes from city center.  Elena Arzak was very cordial, welcoming us during the meal and said goodbye as we were leaving.

Keep in mind: you need to reserve well in advance and probably build your plans around the booking!

Decor

More on the modern side with lots of abstract pictures and glasses in the dining rooms. The restaurant was clearly filled with well-heeled foodies and wine fans.

We did not have enough time for the tasting menu, instead we opted for 3-4 half sided courses.  These do come with several Amuse Bouches and a round of Petit Fours.

The food at Arzak was definitely deserving of 3 stars.  The food was innovative, cooked well, and plated beautifully.

Compared to our meal at Martín Berasategui, Arzak was a lot bigger, little more cold and not friendly, and not as elegant.  Don’t get us wrong, both restaurants are fantastic venues for top shelf dining.

Menu:

Includes a short a la carte menu with cryptic dish names like Lobster and Bee’s. You can order half portions of the a la carte dishes. The tasting menu that takes about 3 hours and is quite popular. (220e) As with many other high end restaurants, ordering a la carte will string bring you a suite of free amuse bouches, petit fours, and possibly a pre-dessert.

They were nice enough to supply us with a custom copy of our menu as we exited the restaurant.

Service:

It took almost 40 minute to order, way too long. We even got bread before ordering,  After that, service started to settle in.  Standard high end service, napkin folding, servers coming by every couple minutes, no worries when you are low on drinks, etc.. They perform napkin folding using spoons! We did note that one male waiter was a lot more knowledgeable about eat dish and was serving a neighboring table. Unfortunately we got a server whose English was not great, hence limited descriptions of the food.

Wine selection was extensive with pricing a lot cheaper than in the US.

Sangria was pretty strong unlike most bars.  Tall and full of fruit.

Bread was not baked by them, and was available in white or wheat. Slightly above average. Martín Berasategui outdoes them here.

Amuse Bouches

Arzak San Sebastian moringa prawn gyoza

Moringa and prawn gyoza was a very weird name.  A Japanese style dumpling with a prawn.  Subtle flavors and a texture variation.

Arzak San Sebastian Melon with Cecina

Alternate: Melon with Cecina or cured beef and Kalamata olives. Nice blend of contrasting flavors.

Arzak San Sebastian Banana Squid Amuse Bouche

Banana and Squid was a small canape with lots of flavor.

Alternate: Eel Rod was a marinated smoked eel. OK not particularly memorable.

Arzak San Sebastian Marinated sardine and strawberry_

Marinated sardine and strawberry was a very good starter. Again, strong fish flavor mellowed out by the fruit.

Arzak San Sebastian corn soup

Alternate: Corn Soup in a tiny cup with fig also had very strong flavors. A bit on the salty side.

Appetizer

Arzak San Sebastian krill cracker

Carabineros Con Krill (57e) Scarlet Prawn with Krill – Marinated Prawns on lemongrass and mint served with an unctuous preparation of beetroot and crunchy krill.  Wow, what a description.  The 3 prawns were really good in their own right, while the crispy krill cracker was fair and almost unnecessary.

Arzak San Sebastian Enredadera De Brinon Y Txipiron Climbing Nectarine squid_

Enredadera De Brinon Y Txipiron (36e) – Climbing Nectarine and squid – Squid cut with shilajit powder, black mole and bitter nectarine drops. Very tender squid with some fruity accent.  Squid is supposed to be really good in San Sebatian and this shows that is true.

Fish Course

Arzak San Sebastian Rape Cleopatra Monkfish

Rape Cleopatra (36e for half portion) – Monkfish Cleopatra – Grilled monkfish together with pecan nut paste and hieroglyphics forms of pumpkin and chickpea.  Another interesting description that does not really mention the black waffle. Sauce is poured tableside. This fish course was carefully prepared and shows their cooking skill. Tender, delicate, a must order.

Arzak San Sebastian Txangurro encendido crab on fire

Txangurro Encendido (28.50e for half portion) Crab on Fire – Stewed crab, fried bananas, lingonberry and mace.  An interesting dish that starts with a fire being set in a small pot, using tequila.  This concoction is poured over one of the crab piles.  The result is a mini fire and crab tasting a bit like liquor. Frankly the other mound without the fire, tasted better!

Arzak San Sebastian Lobster on a tablet

Lobster with bee’s Pollen (28.50e for half portion) – We added this course when we saw a neighboring table get it.  They place a Philips tablet showing a movie of flames and then the sea, underneath the glass dish containing the lobster.  Lots of very tender lobster in a neutral sauce with kumquat accent. Unique mound of green tea pellets. Cool use of technology which surely made it taste better.

Meat Course

Arzak San Sebastian Pichon Anaranjado Orange Pigeon

Pichon Anaranjado (36.50e for half portion) – Orange colored pigeon – Roasted pigeon with sake served with ground cherries, mandarines, oranges, and crispy onion. Perfect medium rare tender meat with a nice fruit accent and strong pigeon sauce. Another fantastic tender pigeon course in San Sebastian.  The one at Martín Berasategui was also great.

Dessert

Arzak San Sebastian Trufon De Chocolate_

Trufon De Chocolate (19e) – The Big Truffle with Large cocoa and sugar truffle with a creamy chocolate and carob filling – was a huge chocolate truffle that everyone nearby was staring at. Tableside, the server poured in a chocolate sauce that promptly collapsed the huge truffle. A very dark chocolatey dessert with some powered chocolate that caused us to cough.

Arzak San Sebastian Skate Y Chocolate Vietnamita_

Skate Y Chocolate Vietnamita (19e) – Skate and Vietnamese Chocolate – On a skateboard, wheel of Vietnamese chocolate filled with acai and yellow sauce. They mean skateboard not the fish skate.  Another fun dessert with a skateboard theme, dark chocolate, and passion fruit sauce.  Also very good but not as good as the Big Truffle.

10% IVA Fee

Petit Fours

Arzak San Sebastian Petit fours

Cool frog shaped chocolates with different flavors.  Orange, Avocado, curry and more.

Arzak Overall Rating: (Excellent 3)

Come Back?

Food Rating: (Excellent)
Service Rating: (Excellent)
Atmosphere Rating: (Excellent)
Value Rating: (Excellent)

Guide: 0 = poor, 1 = Below/Average, 2 = Good, 2.5 = Very Good, 3 = Excellent , 4 = Extraordinary

Alcohol:Full Bar
Attire:Formal
Parking:Street
Reservations:Yes

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