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A couple of oral explosions but too heavy on the seafood side: Restaurant Martín Berasategui (15. November 2019)

| December 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

I was looking forward to this weekend for quite a while – when do you have the chance to try 8 Michelin stars in less than 72 hours? When you go to San Sebastián, this is possible. The weekend started with 3 Michelin stars at Martín Berasategui where we went for the “tasting menu” (EUR 275.00) with the appropriate “wine pairing” (EUR 155.00). The concept of the menu is quite interesting as he serves recent dishes as well as some classics – and the great part is that you get to see from which year they are.

As a first bite we had “Our marinated olives (2019)” accompanied by “Imanol Garay Hegan Egin, 2017, Hondarribi Zuri, Petit Manseg, D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina”. The olives looked like olives and ultimately also tasted like olives but they were not really olives but much more spheres filled with liquid olive taste – when you bit the olive, the liquid would just squirt right out and was super delicious.

Together with the olives, “crackers” were served which provided the dish with a certain crunchiness providing it with the texture you needed.

The next course was “tapioca with beetroot and crustaceans (2019)” which was somewhat simple yet delicious in terms of flavors and texture.

The next course was a modern interpretation of a very typical Basque dish, the “gilda”: “Gilda (anchovy, chili pepper and olive) with ‘Agrucapers’ caper soup and ‘Balfego’ tuna tartare (2018)” accompanied by “Iñaki Otegui Malus Mama, 2012, Sidre Dulce, Astigarraga, Pais Vasco”. I fell in love with the tuna tartare and the jelly on which it was served – the marinated tuna was incredibly delicious and would send shivers down my spine! Amazing!

The “gilda spoon” was great in taste too – and what I liked a lot was the attention to detail with the little heart-shaped leaf making the whole thing not only tasty but only very pretty.

The next course was a very traditional dish which had first been served almost 25 years ago – the “mille-feuille smoked eel, foie gras, spring onions and green apple (1995)” accompanied by “Vincent Dauvissat Chablis, 2015, Chardonnay, A.O.C. Chablis” which was something I definitely liked quite a lot but wasn’t as amazing as the dish right before.

One more amazing thing about Michelin starred restaurants is the selection of different breads and butter and while I haven’t taken a picture of the bread, the butters were delicious and went great with the different breads: “the breads: bacon brioche; fig, raisin and walnut plaits; MB focaccia; pastry bread; fenugreek bread; high fermentation loaf; sourdough baguette” with “our selection of butters: funghi; avocado; lemon grass; caper, black olive and anchovy”.

Until here, I was absolutely blown away, but starting with the next, I was not quite persuaded anymore. The “smooth flower of sepia” (2019) was again a sphere but this time filled with sepia flavored liquid. While the squirt in your mouth was somewhat good and interesting (although it led to quite some discussions at the table), the sphere itself was way too thick so you had some kind of chewy left over after the sphere had burst.

The “cod jelly with asparagus pickles and its cream with ‘Ars Italica’ caviar (2018)” accompanied by “Leirana María Luisa Lázaro, 2013, Albariño, D.O. Rias Baixas” …

… definitely looked pretty and the fried cod skin was actually not too bad either. However, in terms of flavor, the taste was too strong in terms of seafood.

And that was kind of the topic for the rest of the evening – everything somehow tasted like a foam or a sphere and definitely had a strong seafood flavor (exceptions apply). The “oyster with green olive juice, wasabi emulsion and crunchy sea lettuce” (2019) was quite okay in terms of different textures, temperatures and flavors – but the seafood taste (and the size of the oyster) were not really that amazing.

I personally liked the “vegetable hearts salad with seafood, cream of lettuce and iodized juice (2001)” accompanied by “Ossian Cpaitel, 2015, Verdejo, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y León” as it looked absolutely lovely and it was actually good – yet, again, seafood (although it was not as overwhelming as the other dishes in terms of intensity).

Then it was time for … more seafood! The “sea sedge smoothie, on tarama of scampi and chicory, anchovy and sardine canapé” (2019) just fell in line with the rest. I do admit that I actually liked the scampi quite a bit but the overall thing was – for me – too much seafood flavor.

The “langoustine over an aniseed sea-bed and coral mayonnaise (2018)” accompanied by “Contino Graciano, 1995, Graciano, D.O.C.A. Rioja” was somehow a similar concept again. The langoustine itself was actually quite good but there was another foam and there were again flavors of seafood. Honestly, just too much!

The “grilled hake steak with squid tartar and toasted walnut herb with hint of saffron (2019)” accompanied by “Mas Doix Salanques, 2005, Garnacha, Cariñena, D.O.C.A. Priorat” was a bit of a different way of preparing seafood. And just that we get that right – I’m not saying everything tasted the same! Not at all! Just, it all had that (too intense) note of seafood flavors which was somewhat unpleasant.

The “‘The truffle’ with fermented wild mushrooms and collard greens (2015)” was interesting as the black truffle there was actually prepared with foie gras and it didn’t have any seafood flavors!

Finally, it was time for meat – the “grilled sirloin ‘Luismi’ over a bed of Swiss chard chlorophyll and cheese bonbon (2011)” accompanied by “Attis, Sitta Pereiras, 2018, Albariño, O Grove, Galicia” did not only look lovely but it was also good. The meat was tender, intense, yet not the “lamb intense” you get so often but just a very pleasant and intense flavor!

One of my highlights – after the initial oral fireworks – were the desserts. The “lemon with basil juice, green bean and almond (2017)” accompanied by “Molino Real, 2006, Moscatel, D.O. Malaga” was interesting as the green bean slices provide the dish with a texture you usually don’t find in desserts.

The “frozen rock of “Pacari” with cinnamon and saffron cream (2019)” looked tremendously interesting but was also interesting in terms of flavor.

As a final course of the menu, some chocolates were served – the “my goodies: candy of strawberries “Corazón Berry”; vanilla half sphere; creamy almond bar; coconut sponge; hazelnut toffee crumble; cold chocolate and cranberries “Fresh Natur” soup”. The ones I’ve tried were great. Somehow it was almost impossible to try them all given that there was almost too much food (if you have had a regular lunch).

What I absolutely liked about the Martín Berasategui was the interior. When you enter you are welcomed by bird feathers …

… there is a spacious entry hall …

… and ultimately you enter the dining hall which is rather large and actually perfect in terms of privacy and space.

So, all in all, I understand why the Martín Berasategui has three Michelin stars as there were moments of absolute perfection in terms of flavor combinations. But the current menu is – at least in my eyes – way too heavy on the seafood flavors and they were way to intense!

What is close to perfect though is the service – they are always around and yet you don’t really feel them (as they are very non-intrusive) which is just the way perfect service should be. There was only one moment where they failed in terms of timing: You have to announce one course before you have to actually go that you want to wash your hands after the next course – which we did. And yet they managed to actually serve the dishes while one of us was washing their hands. Definitely a kitchen/service fail!

However, when you are in San Sebastián, or intend to visit it for the restaurants, I would highly recommend you to give the Martín Berasategui a shot, hoping the menu at the time won’t be as heavy on the seafood side it was when I visited. Theref0re, make sure to book your table well in advance as else you won’t have a chance to actually get a table.

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Contact Details:

Restaurant Martín Berasategui

Loidi Kalea 4

20160 Lasarte-Oria (E)

Tel.: +34 943 366 471

Tel.: +34 943 361 599

E-Mail: info@martinberasategui.com

Homepage: http://www.martinberasategui.com

About the Author:

I started the blog in October 2009, while living in Milan which I definitely consider to be one of the food capitals of the world. I was in touch with food since my early childhood (as my father is a former chef). Whenever I can, I travel the world to discover new places, to meet people but mostly to try local dishes and to find hidden gems! If you know a place worth going, please drop a line to: info@thediningexperience.org. Currently, I am a member of the following food-related associations: Chevalier @Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Zurich-Ville; Membre Gourmet Dégustateur @Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs [OMGD]; Gesellschafter @Goldener Fisch and Member @Slowfood Convivium Zurich City.
EUR 2'000.00 (incl. tip) Filed in: Restaurants, San Sebastián
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