San Sebastian

Food - recipes, reviews, and discussion
Message
Author
Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

San Sebastian

#51 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 24th, 2015, 9:12 am

Jason - We had very VERY similar impressions and experiences, down to the disappointing egg and mushroom dish (needed both salt and acid) and the overcooked turbot.

Cristian Dezso
Posts: 142
Joined: February 27th, 2012, 8:02 am

San Sebastian

#52 Post by Cristian Dezso » June 24th, 2015, 9:22 am

Has anyone tried the Azurmendi Pret-a-porter menu?

Jason_H
Posts: 69
Joined: May 14th, 2010, 12:08 pm
Location: Napa Valley

San Sebastian

#53 Post by Jason_H » June 24th, 2015, 9:40 am

Christian - We looked at the menu while waiting to head up to the restaurant. Looked good, but didn't try it.

Sarah - One and the same for us.

We drank only Spanish wine while in SS, but was surprised by the amount to cheap Roulot on wine lists there. Also, it has been said before, but if you love old Rioja, Rekondo is a must. On our stops there we had 1975 and 1976 LA Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 for both under 90E, 1966 Ramon Bilbao Reserva for 45E, 1970 Olarra Gran Reserva for 20E. So much we didn't even have a chance to buy/try.
H3LLER - ITB

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

San Sebastian

#54 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 24th, 2015, 10:03 am

Jason_H wrote: Sarah - One and the same for us.

We drank only Spanish wine while in SS, but was surprised by the amount to cheap Roulot on wine lists there. Also, it has been said before, but if you love old Rioja, Rekondo is a must. On our stops there we had 1975 and 1976 LA Rioja Alta Gran Reserva 904 for both under 90E, 1966 Ramon Bilbao Reserva for 45E, 1970 Olarra Gran Reserva for 20E. So much we didn't even have a chance to buy/try.
We drank mostly Spanish as well, particularly in Galicia where we were for a week before SS, and where we found some extremely good local wine. But we caved on a few bargains like Roulot, Egly-Ouriet, DP, and a startlingly cheap bottle of '93 Nikolaihof Gruner Vinothek!

Cristian Dezso
Posts: 142
Joined: February 27th, 2012, 8:02 am

San Sebastian

#55 Post by Cristian Dezso » June 30th, 2015, 11:40 am

One more question on my side - our dear friends with whom we are going to Mugaritz, Elkano, and pintxos, are spending a few days in Barcelona. Any recommendations for places there? Thanks in advance!

User avatar
Mark.Ricca
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3154
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 12:43 pm
Location: Central NJ got central heating and I'm alright...

San Sebastian

#56 Post by Mark.Ricca » July 15th, 2015, 6:55 am

Don,
Dined at Akelare 5 years ago as a guest of Bodegas Muga. It was a singular experience as it was the only Michelin starred restaurant we dined at in the area, but I don't hesitate to say it was amazing.

Image

Wild mushrooms with "pasta" made from the separated white and yolk of eggs.
ITB
"Bacon would improve the flavor of an angel"
"Outside of a dog a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."
"We're a lot like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice, really like licorice."

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

San Sebastian

#57 Post by dcornutt » July 15th, 2015, 4:16 pm

Thanks Mark and thanks to all.
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

Dan.Gord0n
Posts: 2656
Joined: May 10th, 2010, 10:47 am

San Sebastian

#58 Post by Dan.Gord0n » July 25th, 2015, 7:47 am

We are spending 5 nights/6 days in San Sebastian and I am wondering whether the following list for that time period (plus some of the pintxos places for dinner) is either over doing it or too duplicative of styles/experiences:

1st day: Elkano for dinner
2nd day: Akelarre for lunch (dinner of pintxos)
3rd day: Mugaritz for lunch; Rekondo for dinner
4th day: Lunch either at Extanobe (Bilbao) or Azurmendi Pret-a-Porter for lunch (Etxebarri is not available) and Alameda (Hondarribia) for dinner
5th day: Briketenia for lunch (on day trip into France); pintxos for dinner

I think that I want to only do two of the three of Elkano, Mugaritz and Akelarre...... Is it a mistake to do both Akelarre and Mugaritz on the same trip? If we are doing both of those lunches should we still go to Elkano or change Alameda or Rekondo from those nights to the first night? Side note is that I hate the cancellation policy at Mugaritz which requires 3 day advance notice not to charge us on cancellation (I understand why they do it but don't like not having some flexibility on vacation in case something needs to change....).

Any thoughts and feedback would be most appreciated!!

Cristian Dezso
Posts: 142
Joined: February 27th, 2012, 8:02 am

San Sebastian

#59 Post by Cristian Dezso » July 26th, 2015, 12:06 am

My understanding, from what people have said, is that maybe it's good to have a day off in between the big guns. We have Wednesday dinner at Mugaritz, and Friday lunch at Arzak. We were planning to go on Thursday for lunch to Elkano or Azurmendi, but we dropped these plans based on the idea of not overwhelming the experience with so many nice meals in a row.

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

San Sebastian

#60 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » July 26th, 2015, 4:32 am

I would agree it's a lot of serious meals packed in. I personally wouldn't do two in one day, and would take a breather day just to relax and bum around town, go for a hike or a drive, rest your senses a bit.

I have no issue with a cancellation policy of three days. The kind of prep they do almost certainly begins before that for many dishes. Things can happen - people get sick, flights get delayed - which make cancellations necessary and flexibility a nice thing to have, but a lot of people just book a ton of reservations and then cancel what they don't feel like doing. That is unfair and disrespectful to the restaurants, in my opinion.

Dan.Gord0n
Posts: 2656
Joined: May 10th, 2010, 10:47 am

San Sebastian

#61 Post by Dan.Gord0n » July 26th, 2015, 5:11 am

Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, if I want to do Mugaritz and Akellare then they have to be back to back day as only availability. And, I think Elkano is only available the first day. We were able to move Rekondo to the 4th day - might just have to do something light on our day trip to Bilbao and skip Alemeda to keep it to one per day.

If I were to forego one of those places, what would you suggest skipping?

User avatar
Ramon C
Posts: 3510
Joined: October 23rd, 2010, 6:34 am

San Sebastian

#62 Post by Ramon C » July 26th, 2015, 5:29 am

Dan.Gord0n wrote: If I were to forego one of those places, what would you suggest skipping?
Akellare.
@brera

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

San Sebastian

#63 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 4th, 2016, 1:40 am

Updating for the sole purpose of saying how terribly disappointed I am in the turn Mugaritz has taken. It used to be reference point for us when it came to service. Now the servers, while still warm and welcoming, seemed confused and bumbling, with many small but significant failures.

But the food is the worst part. With almost no exceptions, the best dishes are tasteless, and the worst just plain bad. They spun a tale of "a new philosophy honoring the ingredients" but that meant no seasoning, no acid, no life, and often just no taste at all. Most of the food is finger food now, and some of it is so difficult to eat with your fingers, I begged for a fork. Other finger foods smelled so strongly of fish I had to wash my hands three times to get the stink out. "Yes," said the one chef when I mentioned how uncomfortable it had been to eat a frozen crab dish (so cold it hurt my fingers, but quickly melting all over me as well), "that is one of our most challenging dishes." Why do you need to challenge your diners in a way that will never be positive, only varying degrees of uncomfortable? It just went from bad to worse. Often, aggressive and not delicious flavors like grass or sprouted chia seeds overwhelmed what might have been good seafood. Far from honoring ingredients, the main ingredients sometimes got completely hidden behind a tasteless starchy outside.

I'm all for a philosophy, and I absolutely believe in honoring ingredients, but your food has to taste good. And this didn't. I wondered if any of the 40 chefs in the kitchen would choose to eat any of the dishes they were serving. We used to love this restaurant and now it's just a temple to an idea that failed. Beautiful dishes and presentations, but they might as well have been made of cardboard and paint for all they appealed to the palate.

We left halfway through and will not be back.

User avatar
George Hejna
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5103
Joined: April 21st, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Batavia, IL

San Sebastian

#64 Post by George Hejna » June 4th, 2016, 3:12 am

Heading to Akelare for lunch today. Will report back.

George

User avatar
George Hejna
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5103
Joined: April 21st, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Batavia, IL

San Sebastian

#65 Post by George Hejna » June 5th, 2016, 1:33 am

I thought the lunch at Akelare was very, very good. This is my first 3*** in Spain so don't really have a lot to compare it to. They offer three different tasting menus and as there were three of us we each ordered a different one. 2 more modern menus and 1 classic. They are all equally good with excellent, unique dishes. There were absolutely no misses. Some highlights were a lobster salad off of the classic menu. Iberico Shoulder (Presa), Pigeon and a wonderful piece of Hake over spring peas.

The wine list was very nice and we ordered a beautiful bottle of Albarino and a 1er Meursault from Roulot. They love there white wine cold in Spain. Something you have to watch out for IMO.

The view is great. It was foggy/cloudy when we started but it burned off during our meal so we had great views of the Atlantic.

Service was spot on. 1 of our waiters was a little soft spoken but I think that was more of a language barrier. Another woman, maybe a host was excellent and gave very detailed descriptions in perfect English. The chef came around to each table which I thought was a nice touch. We had a 5 min conversation with him (mostly about Alinea) which she translated.

My only complaint was that they sat a table of 16 people in the main dining room. It was very large and changed the atmosphere of the room. It made it feel much more crowded and unrefined.

Lunch was about 3.5 hours long. Pace was great and the time flew by. I would definitely go back. Maybe my dining companion will chime in and let you know what he thought as he has much more experience at this level of dining then I do.

George

User avatar
George Hejna
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5103
Joined: April 21st, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Batavia, IL

San Sebastian

#66 Post by George Hejna » June 8th, 2016, 5:09 am

Had a below average... borderline bad meal at Azurmendi. Don't know if we caught them on an off day but the food was uninspiring, the service was terrible and the wine list is mediocre at best. Had a 1* meal in France at Ithurria the next day that blew it away.

I was really looking forward to this restaurant.... Saying I am disappointed is an understatement.

George

User avatar
scamhi
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3669
Joined: January 30th, 2009, 1:31 pm

San Sebastian

#67 Post by scamhi » June 8th, 2016, 6:02 am

dcornutt wrote:I appreciate all of the information here. You guys are the greatest!

Reservation at Extebarri is made. Elkano is planned for lunch. Maybe two lunches.
Pinxto crawl every night since my wife can't eat at 9pm. Ganbara and several others on the map there.
I am really looking forward to exploring this area.
We were not impressed by Elkano in February of this year. If you want to try another restauarnt in Getaria I would recommend Kaia Kaipe. Also a must lunch is Ibai in San Sebastian. Must reserve 1-2 weeks in advance.
S u z a n n e C a m h i
instagram: suz_cam

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

San Sebastian

#68 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » June 8th, 2016, 6:26 am

George Hejna wrote:Had a below average... borderline bad meal at Azurmendi. Don't know if we caught them on an off day but the food was uninspiring, the service was terrible and the wine list is mediocre at best. Had a 1* meal in France at Ithurria the next day that blew it away.

I was really looking forward to this restaurant.... Saying I am disappointed is an understatement.

George
Sorry to hear this, George. I saw on a mutual friend's Facebook page that you were headed there and I almost said something, but didn't want to quell your excitement based on my poor experience there two years ago. My husband liked the food even less than I did, and both of us found the service to be amateur at best. The overall experience and set up was, to us, silly and affected and the kitchen was the most soulless, depressing food preparation space I've ever encountered. The food was not bad, but was forgettable, and couldn't fight its way above the atmosphere and front of house issues. I do not understand how it gets the praise it does.

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

San Sebastian

#69 Post by dcornutt » June 8th, 2016, 3:35 pm

scamhi wrote:
dcornutt wrote:I appreciate all of the information here. You guys are the greatest!

Reservation at Extebarri is made. Elkano is planned for lunch. Maybe two lunches.
Pinxto crawl every night since my wife can't eat at 9pm. Ganbara and several others on the map there.
I am really looking forward to exploring this area.
We were not impressed by Elkano in February of this year. If you want to try another restauarnt in Getaria I would recommend Kaia Kaipe. Also a must lunch is Ibai in San Sebastian. Must reserve 1-2 weeks in advance.
I have a friend who went to Kaia Kaipe when I went to Elkano. I think his meal was much better. (Although my meal at Elkano wasn't bad) He said the best seafood meal he has ever eaten. He has been around too. His wife is from the Basque area. Wine list is amazing too.
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

User avatar
George Hejna
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5103
Joined: April 21st, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Batavia, IL

San Sebastian

#70 Post by George Hejna » June 10th, 2016, 3:17 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
George Hejna wrote:Had a below average... borderline bad meal at Azurmendi. Don't know if we caught them on an off day but the food was uninspiring, the service was terrible and the wine list is mediocre at best. Had a 1* meal in France at Ithurria the next day that blew it away.

I was really looking forward to this restaurant.... Saying I am disappointed is an understatement.

George
Sorry to hear this, George. I saw on a mutual friend's Facebook page that you were headed there and I almost said something, but didn't want to quell your excitement based on my poor experience there two years ago. My husband liked the food even less than I did, and both of us found the service to be amateur at best. The overall experience and set up was, to us, silly and affected and the kitchen was the most soulless, depressing food preparation space I've ever encountered. The food was not bad, but was forgettable, and couldn't fight its way above the atmosphere and front of house issues. I do not understand how it gets the praise it does.
Couldn't agree with your comments more. I found the entire garden part of the meal poorly executed and rushed. My son has a mild nut allergy. 3 dishes showed up in front of him with nuts the last being a dessert covered in peanuts.

Went to Diver XO in Madrid a few days after.... Now THAT was was a fabulous and incredibly unique meal. I would go back there in a second.

George

Cristian Dezso
Posts: 142
Joined: February 27th, 2012, 8:02 am

San Sebastian

#71 Post by Cristian Dezso » February 11th, 2018, 7:04 am

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:Updating for the sole purpose of saying how terribly disappointed I am in the turn Mugaritz has taken. It used to be reference point for us when it came to service. Now the servers, while still warm and welcoming, seemed confused and bumbling, with many small but significant failures.

But the food is the worst part. With almost no exceptions, the best dishes are tasteless, and the worst just plain bad. They spun a tale of "a new philosophy honoring the ingredients" but that meant no seasoning, no acid, no life, and often just no taste at all. Most of the food is finger food now, and some of it is so difficult to eat with your fingers, I begged for a fork. Other finger foods smelled so strongly of fish I had to wash my hands three times to get the stink out. "Yes," said the one chef when I mentioned how uncomfortable it had been to eat a frozen crab dish (so cold it hurt my fingers, but quickly melting all over me as well), "that is one of our most challenging dishes." Why do you need to challenge your diners in a way that will never be positive, only varying degrees of uncomfortable? It just went from bad to worse. Often, aggressive and not delicious flavors like grass or sprouted chia seeds overwhelmed what might have been good seafood. Far from honoring ingredients, the main ingredients sometimes got completely hidden behind a tasteless starchy outside.

I'm all for a philosophy, and I absolutely believe in honoring ingredients, but your food has to taste good. And this didn't. I wondered if any of the 40 chefs in the kitchen would choose to eat any of the dishes they were serving. We used to love this restaurant and now it's just a temple to an idea that failed. Beautiful dishes and presentations, but they might as well have been made of cardboard and paint for all they appealed to the palate.

We left halfway through and will not be back.
Just reviving this thread as we are planning to head back to San Sebastian in the last week of July. We were there in August 2015. I picked Sarah's post because out of the places we ate at (Elkano lunch - fabulous experience; Arzak lunch - again, and surprisingly based on some comments here, fabulous experience, and Mugaritz) Mugaritz was very disappointing. And like Sarah said, the food just didn't taste all that good at all. Perhaps it's the fact that expectations are so high and thus the drop so sharp. But based on that experience I would not go back.

This time we are spending 6 and a half days. Thinking Azurmendi - since we did not get to eat there last time - for lunch, coupled with a visit to Guggenheim. But the latest posts on them do not seem promising.

Also I am thinking Etxebarri for another lunch, perhaps coupled with a visit to Lopez de Heredia. Again, we missed Etxebarri last time, and again some posts (on other forums as well) seem to go both ways. By the way did they turn into a tasting menu place only? I seem to recall seeing some pictures of a la crate menus a while back, but everything recent that I read is tasting menu, and not only that but the price has increased to the level of Azurmendi, Mugaritz, etc. Which might be fine, but I'd like to be mentally prepared :)

Finally, we are planning on Elkano again based on our experience.

Ibai, maybe, because it might be too much to try all of them, and Rekondo maybe for wines.

Does anyone have any recent updates on San Sebastian dining (lunch rather) scene?

J. D'Antonio
Posts: 289
Joined: July 21st, 2010, 8:02 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

San Sebastian

#72 Post by J. D'Antonio » February 11th, 2018, 8:58 am

I was there in November. Elkano was awesome for lunch (I walked in without a reso, and was really surprised I got a table!).

Dinner at Akelarre was disappointing. The service was fantastic, but the first couple dishes were so salty, I had to complain. And I like aggressively seasoned food. With the exception of a pigeon with mole dish (stunning) and the yogurt jar dessert, none of the dishes really blew me away. I expected a lot more of the restaurant based on its stature and cost. Perhaps I should have ordered one of the other menus, but my AirBnb hosts commented they've heard similar complaints over the past year.

I absolutely loved dinner at Kokotxa. In my opinion, it blew Akelarre out of the water. Very ingredient focused, clean flavours, interesting combinations, and everything was perfectly executed. Service really good too. I know which of these two places I will go next time I am in San Sebastian! Not to mention I could eat here 2x for what Akelarre cost. They have a really solid wine list and it's pretty well priced. I ordered the 2012 Telmo Rodriguez As Caborcas and I think it was about 43-48 Euro, which is lower than what I paid for it in Ontario. I ordered the larger of the two tasting menus.

For non-tasting menus/pintxos crawl, I don't know how many times I ended up at Atari and Bar Gandarias. At Atari, they had an orzo with squid and squid ink that was fantastic. Bar Gandarias had kick ass solomillo, foie gras, and risotto with wild mushrooms and Idiazabal. Both places had a great selection of sherry by the glass, Gandarias in particular. Not to mention they serve sherry with 5oz pours and they also have a WineStation for some of their better bottles to serve BTG.

Casa Urola served a fantastic scallop with aji blanco. La Cuchara de San Telmo serves kick ass cotxinita asada. Some of the crispiest pig skin I've ever had on suckling pig.

It was nice to visit LdH, but don't expect much of a tasting. They only poured the 2005 Bosconia and Tondonia (Tinto) and served a bit of jamon. They don't taste the whites or Gran Reservas. If you're interested in buying one bottle of Tondonia Blanco, you need to purchase six bottles of Tondonia Tinto. And if you want one of any Gran Reserva, you need to purchase twelve bottles of Tondonia Tinto. Meh.

I wanted to eat at Rekondo, but they were closed for vacation.

Anyway, that's all off the top of my head. I'll see if I have anything else interesting in my notes.
futronic
J a y D ' A n t o n i o

Cristian Dezso
Posts: 142
Joined: February 27th, 2012, 8:02 am

San Sebastian

#73 Post by Cristian Dezso » February 11th, 2018, 10:10 am

Jay thanks so much for the info!

I was expecting/hoping the visit at Lopez de Heredia to be some mind blowing experience. Thanks for letting me know how it was. We might end up skipping it, especially if it is 2 hours long, as it says on their website - especially if we end up bringing the kid along. I have only visited Piemontese wineries and had some great visits. Any other wineries in Rioja that you recommend?

Thanks again!

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

San Sebastian

#74 Post by dcornutt » February 11th, 2018, 10:58 am

I would be interested in thoughts from others on Akalare. I am headed back to San Sebastian the end of May.
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

J. D'Antonio
Posts: 289
Joined: July 21st, 2010, 8:02 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

San Sebastian

#75 Post by J. D'Antonio » February 11th, 2018, 1:32 pm

Cristian Dezso wrote:Jay thanks so much for the info!

I was expecting/hoping the visit at Lopez de Heredia to be some mind blowing experience. Thanks for letting me know how it was. We might end up skipping it, especially if it is 2 hours long, as it says on their website - especially if we end up bringing the kid along. I have only visited Piemontese wineries and had some great visits. Any other wineries in Rioja that you recommend?

Thanks again!
The visit to LdH was interesting, because they took me through the cellars, I got to see the library of old bottles, the cooperage, the vineyards, etc. My host was very nice. I am just trying to set expectations on what to expect from a tasting perspective.

As a complete contrast, Bodegas Roda is right next door. Their style is the complete opposite of LdH, but you can just pop in to their tasting bar and try things BTG without having to do a tour. They also have jamon and other charcuterie you can order. It's not free, but I drank the Roda I 1997, 2009, and 2010, and thought they were delicious. You can also buy back vintages directly from their shop. Next time I am in the area, I'll arrange an actual tour of the winery.

I also visited Hermanos Pecina, as I know their importer here in Ontario. Mikel was awesome showing me around, and even drove me out to their vineyards and to see the old, 13th (?) century church that adorns their label. Pecina may not have the cult following of an LdH, but all their wines were great, especially their Reserva, Gran Reserva, and single vineyard Iscorta 2010. They opened a Crianza 2006 from the library as well and it was fantastic. I can't believe how well it showed.

I was only in Haro for the day, but was still happy with the visits I made. Give yourself a lot of time to drive from SS, and don't forget to bring lots of money for tolls on the autopistola! Basically 10 Euro each time you leave SS. ;)
futronic
J a y D ' A n t o n i o

G. Keeler
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 274
Joined: April 27th, 2010, 12:03 am
Location: OC

San Sebastian

#76 Post by G. Keeler » February 17th, 2018, 6:09 am

Just to give another perspective on Lopez de Heredia, we loved our visit there. Maria Jose was our host and it was great to hear first hand the history of her family. Walking the vineyards was really cool as was seeing the cooper. I’m not a big fan of wine “tasting” in general and actually prefer that part of a visit to be short and sweet so I was fine with what we had at ldh.

If you are a fan of the ldh and are in the area, it’s a must visit IMO.
G L E N N

User avatar
RyanC
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 3244
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 4:20 pm
Location: Houston, TX

San Sebastian

#77 Post by RyanC » February 17th, 2018, 12:59 pm

J. D'Antonio wrote:
Cristian Dezso wrote:Jay thanks so much for the info!

I was expecting/hoping the visit at Lopez de Heredia to be some mind blowing experience. Thanks for letting me know how it was. We might end up skipping it, especially if it is 2 hours long, as it says on their website - especially if we end up bringing the kid along. I have only visited Piemontese wineries and had some great visits. Any other wineries in Rioja that you recommend?

Thanks again!
The visit to LdH was interesting, because they took me through the cellars, I got to see the library of old bottles, the cooperage, the vineyards, etc. My host was very nice. I am just trying to set expectations on what to expect from a tasting perspective.

As a complete contrast, Bodegas Roda is right next door. Their style is the complete opposite of LdH, but you can just pop in to their tasting bar and try things BTG without having to do a tour. They also have jamon and other charcuterie you can order. It's not free, but I drank the Roda I 1997, 2009, and 2010, and thought they were delicious. You can also buy back vintages directly from their shop. Next time I am in the area, I'll arrange an actual tour of the winery.

I also visited Hermanos Pecina, as I know their importer here in Ontario. Mikel was awesome showing me around, and even drove me out to their vineyards and to see the old, 13th (?) century church that adorns their label. Pecina may not have the cult following of an LdH, but all their wines were great, especially their Reserva, Gran Reserva, and single vineyard Iscorta 2010. They opened a Crianza 2006 from the library as well and it was fantastic. I can't believe how well it showed.

I was only in Haro for the day, but was still happy with the visits I made. Give yourself a lot of time to drive from SS, and don't forget to bring lots of money for tolls on the autopistola! Basically 10 Euro each time you leave SS. ;)

Spot on post. We absolutely loved our visit to LdH but it's not about the tasting. We also visited Roda. I don't really drink Roda, but the winery is absolutely stunning, and they popped a bottle of Cirsion (a $200 wine) for just my wife and me so we could try it. Worth a stop if you have time.

NB: My avatar picture is from the LdH cellar.
C@ughey

User avatar
LoriMcLaughlin
Posts: 248
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 6:28 pm
Location: Greer, SC

San Sebastian

#78 Post by LoriMcLaughlin » February 21st, 2018, 11:54 am

dcornutt wrote:I would be interested in thoughts from others on Akalare. I am headed back to San Sebastian the end of May.
We had a very enjoyable meal at Akelare in Sept 2017. The views are breathtaking, a short taxi from San Sebastián, and the chef was meeting all guests at the door before service - we had an 8:30 reservation so on the early side. It’s a fairly small restaurant, so fairly quiet.

No surprises here as they do the option of three tasting menus for dinner. We did the classic menu, with a meat option beef or pigeon. We got one of each - neither of us liked the pigeon with mole. Menus are on their website. Nice wine list with the sommelier steering toward, you guessed it, Spanish wines.

It was an excellent meal but it felt safe. The starters were tasty and appetite provoking. The foie gras was my favorite course and the mushrooms on the pasta dish were amazing. They gave us an extra dessert as we were celebrating. Hubby really liked the broken jar of yogurt but I was put off by the taste. Overall, it was an excellent meal but it wasn’t the best meal of our trip - that honor went to one star Les Perdrix de Troplong Mondot.
Attachments
44236892-2185-40B1-88C0-E73F92184570.jpeg
44236892-2185-40B1-88C0-E73F92184570.jpeg (19.91 KiB) Viewed 1336 times

User avatar
LoriMcLaughlin
Posts: 248
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 6:28 pm
Location: Greer, SC

San Sebastian

#79 Post by LoriMcLaughlin » February 21st, 2018, 12:04 pm

And here is the pasta with “mushrooms”
Attachments
7B8B68DE-0A16-4B88-A5E2-C027AFEA7B4B.jpeg
7B8B68DE-0A16-4B88-A5E2-C027AFEA7B4B.jpeg (21.22 KiB) Viewed 1333 times

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

San Sebastian

#80 Post by dcornutt » February 25th, 2018, 4:56 pm

Thanks Lori!
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

Lee Barnard
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 75
Joined: January 11th, 2018, 11:26 am
Location: Chadds Ford, PA

Re: San Sebastian

#81 Post by Lee Barnard » October 1st, 2018, 2:42 pm

Just got back from dinner at Rekondo. My impression, if you are going, go solely because of the wine cellar (and probably just go for wine and maybe some lunch). The food was disappointing, especially the overcooked fish. The service (both food and wine) was pretty bad as well - the poor couple next to us had it the worst - they ordered a bottle when they first sat down which was brought out after dessert! Ours wasn't much better on timing, plus we got glasses full of sediment. Refusing to decant an old Bordeaux off its sediment seems strange. I actually didn't see a single bottle decanted, which may be the practice, but shouldn't be standing it up straight off the cellar shelf then.

User avatar
George Hejna
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5103
Joined: April 21st, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Batavia, IL

Re: San Sebastian

#82 Post by George Hejna » October 1st, 2018, 4:29 pm

Some one brings me a bottle I ordered with dinner after dessert, definitely refusing that.

George

User avatar
Gray G
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 366
Joined: August 20th, 2009, 10:25 am

Re: San Sebastian

#83 Post by Gray G » October 2nd, 2018, 6:51 am

a friend swears San Sebastian is his favorite place
he loves his Gin and Tonic
Bourdain was there with Jose Andres in one of his last episodes
definitely appears that the food has an emphasis on the main ingredient and not the added seasoning etc...
hope to visit the Basque area and San Sebastian sometime, but not for the wine...it's not Italy LOL

cheers
my friends call me Gary, so much time, so little wine, Albanista, K Vinters rocks! MCK, Cattle King, love Gri3v3 Family wines Double Eagle baby! flavors please, non-religious freedom :) egalitarian, non-socialist, non-ITB, paid subscriber of online chat, Going Beserk everyday! "life's not black and white but black and grey"- Graham Greene

Barry L i p t o n
Posts: 2738
Joined: November 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#84 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 3rd, 2019, 10:34 pm

Lee Barnard wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 2:42 pm
Just got back from dinner at Rekondo. My impression, if you are going, go solely because of the wine cellar (and probably just go for wine and maybe some lunch). The food was disappointing, especially the overcooked fish. The service (both food and wine) was pretty bad as well - the poor couple next to us had it the worst - they ordered a bottle when they first sat down which was brought out after dessert! Ours wasn't much better on timing, plus we got glasses full of sediment. Refusing to decant an old Bordeaux off its sediment seems strange. I actually didn't see a single bottle decanted, which may be the practice, but shouldn't be standing it up straight off the cellar shelf then.
Sorry to hear it as I'm going next month, but good tip. I won't go too hungry.

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#85 Post by dcornutt » April 4th, 2019, 2:11 am

Gray G wrote:
October 2nd, 2018, 6:51 am
a friend swears San Sebastian is his favorite place
he loves his Gin and Tonic
Bourdain was there with Jose Andres in one of his last episodes
definitely appears that the food has an emphasis on the main ingredient and not the added seasoning etc...
hope to visit the Basque area and San Sebastian sometime, but not for the wine...it's not Italy LOL

cheers
They have gin bars that are stocked with hundreds of gins from around the world. Some extremely good local gins. It is pretty popular.
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

User avatar
Joe Dulworth
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4470
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 2:10 pm
Location: Arlington, TX

Re: San Sebastian

#86 Post by Joe Dulworth » April 4th, 2019, 8:08 am

Thanks for the tip. I'll be there in July. I had already pretty much eliminated Rekonda based on a few other comments I'd seen but this seals the deal for me. Thanks again.
wineismylife

Wine is like potato chips around me...if it's open, it's gone.

MyBlog @ wineismylife net

User avatar
Ramon C
Posts: 3510
Joined: October 23rd, 2010, 6:34 am

Re: San Sebastian

#87 Post by Ramon C » April 4th, 2019, 8:19 am

Lee Barnard wrote:
October 1st, 2018, 2:42 pm
Just got back from dinner at Rekondo. My impression, if you are going, go solely because of the wine cellar (and probably just go for wine and maybe some lunch). The food was disappointing, especially the overcooked fish. The service (both food and wine) was pretty bad as well - the poor couple next to us had it the worst - they ordered a bottle when they first sat down which was brought out after dessert! Ours wasn't much better on timing, plus we got glasses full of sediment. Refusing to decant an old Bordeaux off its sediment seems strange. I actually didn't see a single bottle decanted, which may be the practice, but shouldn't be standing it up straight off the cellar shelf then.

I've eaten there and agree that while the food is not in the same excellent league, nor likely intended to be, as those in Arzak/Mugaritz/Akellare. I found Rekondo's dishes and their presentation to be less complicated, very simple, and tended to be more rustic and regional-centric, even at home-cooking level.

The wine list, though, trumps the others in terms of having older/mature offerings from all over the world at obscenely low prices as based on my local market/restaurant standards (NYC).

I recall my ordered bottle, then, was a pristine 1979 Muga Prado Enea GR at about Euro100, and it also wasn't decanted. I'll admit that I'm one who had stood up old bottles for many days leading to a personal dinner or a group wine-tasting. In this case, though, I'm just not sure how this restaurant could stand up bottles to allow sediment to settle when they are ordered and drank on the spot.
@brera

Barry L i p t o n
Posts: 2738
Joined: November 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#88 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 4th, 2019, 8:50 am

For my upcoming trip, I have a couple of choices to make given limited time.

Any comments on either Akelare vs. Martin Berasategui? The later has a la carte, which given the timing (my last day in town) might be better suited than a tasting menu.

There is also Eme Be Garrote. My other choices are oriented towards 1*. I find expectations for 3* (and the associated price) sometimes so high that it's met less often than my (lower) expectations for 1*.
.

Other places confirmed are:
1) Casa Uroa
2) Rekondo (for the wine list, I also have a lunch that day, so I'll be eating less than usual).
3) Mirador Ulia
4) Kokotxa
5) Ibai

Thanks!

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#89 Post by dcornutt » April 4th, 2019, 11:24 am

Martin Berasategui is the finest restaurant in Donastia. I love Akelare but Martin Berasategui is absolutely the finest to me. You are gonna love Mirador Ulia.
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

Steven Pumilia
Posts: 49
Joined: May 29th, 2010, 9:31 am

Re: San Sebastian

#90 Post by Steven Pumilia » April 4th, 2019, 11:43 am

I had an excellent (not great) meal at Rekondo. Service was great. Wine list was amazing.
Also did lunch at Ibai. Solid choice.

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

Re: San Sebastian

#91 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » April 4th, 2019, 11:56 am

dcornutt wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:24 am
Martin Berasategui is the finest restaurant in Donastia. I love Akelare but Martin Berasategui is absolutely the finest to me. You are gonna love Mirador Ulia.
Martin Berasategui is the only top place in the area where I have not yet dined in the 6 or so times I've been to San Sebastian. I never felt drawn to it, for reasons I can't really explain. In the last few visits, we've stopped doing the "fancy" places (for lack of a better word) entirely, as we became less and less interested in the fuss. Jonathan especially is very tired of it, and for him a restaurant has to overcome the fact that it is fancy - it's a detractor to him. But after reading your report on it, Don, I decided to try this year. We're booked for lunch there on our June trip. Jonathan put up no resistance when I showed him the dress I intend to wear. :)

Michael Bowden
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5002
Joined: January 27th, 2009, 1:15 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: San Sebastian

#92 Post by Michael Bowden » April 4th, 2019, 12:06 pm

Loved Berasategui - went for lunch (best way to do a 3* IMHO, especially in SS). One of the better/best 3*'s I've been to (and I've been to a fair amount).
I'm taller than Zach Lang.

It's Michael.....not Mike, Mark, Mick, Mikey...get it? got it? good.

Good fries are better than great tater tots.

User avatar
dcornutt
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 9786
Joined: February 12th, 2009, 4:19 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#93 Post by dcornutt » April 4th, 2019, 12:26 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:56 am
dcornutt wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:24 am
Martin Berasategui is the finest restaurant in Donastia. I love Akelare but Martin Berasategui is absolutely the finest to me. You are gonna love Mirador Ulia.
Martin Berasategui is the only top place in the area where I have not yet dined in the 6 or so times I've been to San Sebastian. I never felt drawn to it, for reasons I can't really explain. In the last few visits, we've stopped doing the "fancy" places (for lack of a better word) entirely, as we became less and less interested in the fuss. Jonathan especially is very tired of it, and for him a restaurant has to overcome the fact that it is fancy - it's a detractor to him. But after reading your report on it, Don, I decided to try this year. We're booked for lunch there on our June trip. Jonathan put up no resistance when I showed him the dress I intend to wear. :)
champagne.gif [cheers.gif]
DON Cornutt

"Before you eat or drink anything, carefully consider with whom you eat or drink rather than what you
eat or drink,because eating without a friend is the life of the lion or the wolf." Epicurius

Barry L i p t o n
Posts: 2738
Joined: November 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#94 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 4th, 2019, 12:48 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:56 am
dcornutt wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:24 am
Martin Berasategui is the finest restaurant in Donastia. I love Akelare but Martin Berasategui is absolutely the finest to me. You are gonna love Mirador Ulia.
Martin Berasategui is the only top place in the area where I have not yet dined in the 6 or so times I've been to San Sebastian. I never felt drawn to it, for reasons I can't really explain. In the last few visits, we've stopped doing the "fancy" places (for lack of a better word) entirely, as we became less and less interested in the fuss. Jonathan especially is very tired of it, and for him a restaurant has to overcome the fact that it is fancy - it's a detractor to him. But after reading your report on it, Don, I decided to try this year. We're booked for lunch there on our June trip. Jonathan put up no resistance when I showed him the dress I intend to wear. :)
I’m feeling similar but feel like I should try one. Problem for me is where to fit in Tapas crawl.

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

Re: San Sebastian

#95 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » April 4th, 2019, 1:14 pm

Barry L i p t o n wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 12:48 pm
Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:56 am
dcornutt wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:24 am
Martin Berasategui is the finest restaurant in Donastia. I love Akelare but Martin Berasategui is absolutely the finest to me. You are gonna love Mirador Ulia.
Martin Berasategui is the only top place in the area where I have not yet dined in the 6 or so times I've been to San Sebastian. I never felt drawn to it, for reasons I can't really explain. In the last few visits, we've stopped doing the "fancy" places (for lack of a better word) entirely, as we became less and less interested in the fuss. Jonathan especially is very tired of it, and for him a restaurant has to overcome the fact that it is fancy - it's a detractor to him. But after reading your report on it, Don, I decided to try this year. We're booked for lunch there on our June trip. Jonathan put up no resistance when I showed him the dress I intend to wear. :)
I’m feeling similar but feel like I should try one. Problem for me is where to fit in Tapas crawl.
Pintxos crawl is, to me, the key element. Unless you can't bear to eat standing up, everything else should be worked around it since you really can't do anything like it elsewhere. My suggestion is go early evening when places are just starting to open. It can get very crowded and, for me, much less fun later in the evening. Unless the scene is your goal, of course.

User avatar
David K o l i n
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 15625
Joined: June 2nd, 2009, 5:29 pm
Location: ChiIl

Re: San Sebastian

#96 Post by David K o l i n » April 4th, 2019, 1:24 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:56 am
dcornutt wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 11:24 am
Martin Berasategui is the finest restaurant in Donastia. I love Akelare but Martin Berasategui is absolutely the finest to me. You are gonna love Mirador Ulia.
Martin Berasategui is the only top place in the area where I have not yet dined in the 6 or so times I've been to San Sebastian. I never felt drawn to it, for reasons I can't really explain. In the last few visits, we've stopped doing the "fancy" places (for lack of a better word) entirely, as we became less and less interested in the fuss. Jonathan especially is very tired of it, and for him a restaurant has to overcome the fact that it is fancy - it's a detractor to him. But after reading your report on it, Don, I decided to try this year. We're booked for lunch there on our June trip. Jonathan put up no resistance when I showed him the dress I intend to wear. :)
Can you send my wife a picture of the dress so she gets properly motivated for our June trip as well?

Barry L i p t o n
Posts: 2738
Joined: November 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#97 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 4th, 2019, 1:38 pm

Are tapas crawls in San Sebastián in a much higher level than those in Madrid? I enjoyed them but nowhere’s as much as much as my formal meals.

Also, is it an option on Sunday, which is the one place I could let go without too much regret (Rekondo).

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

Re: San Sebastian

#98 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » April 4th, 2019, 2:32 pm

Barry L i p t o n wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 1:38 pm
Are tapas crawls in San Sebastián in a much higher level than those in Madrid? I enjoyed them but nowhere’s as much as much as my formal meals.

Also, is it an option on Sunday, which is the one place I could let go without too much regret (Rekondo).
It's not that pintxos in San Sebastian are on a higher level than tapas in Madrid, it's just a very different feel and of course different ingredients are emphasized. Madrid is cultural much more formal, whereas Basque region is lively and relaxed and friendly. My husband and I are very focused on specialties of the region done perfectly with little dressing up, so being able to get a big plate of hongos a la plancha with an egg, or perfect local peas with white asparagus, or eat our weight in cured or smoked anchovies without ceremony is more fun and interesting and unique to the place than yet another tasting menu. I do feel that going to San Sebastian and not spending at least one afternoon or evening in the old quarter doing the crawl would be a terrible waste. But if you don't enjoy that kind of experience as much, feel free to ignore me. If you do a crawl, though, be sure and order dishes off the menus as well as just picking off the prepared platters, especially at places like Ganbara where they work very hard to get the very best ingredients.

Most places are open on Sunday at least through lunch. Many close Sunday night and Monday, but not all of them.

Barry L i p t o n
Posts: 2738
Joined: November 8th, 2009, 8:59 pm

Re: San Sebastian

#99 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 4th, 2019, 3:31 pm

Thanks Sarah, very helpful.

I'll be staying right next to old town, so will be walking around and having an occassional snack. Just wasn't sure I'd be making a meal of it - I tend to eat quickly when standing, and so I enjoy a sit down meal when the focus is the food. I will be doing my first walk around Saturday afternoon (but given it's my arrival day from the US, I'm often not hungry due to time difference).

What really excites me in Madrid is the seafood temples, an order of percebes, calamari, sole and the quality is just so amazing there.

The hongos a la plancha and perfect peas sound great (for my vegetarian wife as well as me, and she'll be full after that). Does one of your favorite places reliably have those?

Sarah Kirschbaum
Posts: 2376
Joined: September 20th, 2010, 11:53 am

Re: San Sebastian

#100 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » April 4th, 2019, 3:43 pm

Barry L i p t o n wrote:
April 4th, 2019, 3:31 pm
Thanks Sarah, very helpful.

I'll be staying right next to old town, so will be walking around and having an occassional snack. Just wasn't sure I'd be making a meal of it - I tend to eat quickly when standing, and so I enjoy a sit down meal when the focus is the food. I will be doing my first walk around Saturday afternoon (but given it's my arrival day from the US, I'm often not hungry due to time difference).

The hongos a la plancha and perfect peas sound great (for my vegetarian wife as well as me, and she'll be full after that). Does one of your favorite places reliably have those?
It depends on the season, of course. You might be missing the best of the peas and mushrooms from local suppliers, but if anyone will have them, Ganbara will. It's very central, right on San Jeronimo, so you will not have any trouble finding it. This is a place where you can ask what is best right now and they will tell you, so long as they aren't slammed. My only complaint is sometimes dishes are a little oversalted for my taste, but that is the regional taste, which is heavy on salt in general. You can ask for it toned down. They also have tables downstairs where you can get an excellent steak (as well as peas and mushrooms), much better than at Rekondo, in my opinion. Their wine program is actually pretty decent as well, though you will not find ancient Rioja. The owner is very into wine - he's become a good friend. You should also look in at Gandarias, where the anchovies are excellent and they have a very good selection of sherry to accompany. The squid here is very good, too, as is the morcilla. I have not looked specifically for vegetarian options, but I am sure they have some as their array is quite extensive. If you were only to hit two places, those are the two I would do.

Post Reply

Return to “Epicurean Exploits”