I’ve wanted to go to San Sebastian for years now and its just never come together. I’ll be leaving Europe soon and moving back to the States so I’m really trying to squeeze it in before I leave. Dates and times aren’t ideal (Sunday to Wednesday in late March), but I’d love any suggestions people might have.
Right now we’ll probably fly to Bordeaux on a Sunday and the plan is to spend the night there. Hoping for a great dinner with an excellent wine list. Monday we’ll either head straight to San Sebastian. I know Monday nights are not exactly the best nights for a great dinner but we’re hoping we might still able able to do a pinxtos crawl. I’d be open to any suggestions. Tuesday night would probably be our one shot at a big time meal so if you only had one meal in San Sebastian (and it had to be on a Tuesday night), where would you go? After that, drive back to Bordeaux Wednesday morning and straight to the airport.
Do a search for San Sebastian both here and in the Epicurean forum, where most people used to post about restaurants. Many people, including me, have posted extensively about restaurants there. Monday nights will be tough, even for pintxos. But not impossible.
A group of 6 of us were in Bordeaux in October 2021. Here’s a summary of the restaurants we visited:
Cent 33 - ultra trendy, intimate venue with highly creative cuisine on shared plates - we thoroughly enjoyed the chef’s table experience watching the kitchen action. reservations not easy. Felt lucky to stumble on this place b/c couldn’t get reso at TentaziOni and the revered Garapopiles is now shut down. 5 minute cab from hotel
Le Gabriel - elegant decor and great atmosphere with excellent food to match. ate in the mezzanine resto - still very upscale but not the formality of the Michelin starred resto on top floor (which I’d try on returning). Cocktail pre din on street level bar or patio with its unbeatable setting on PL de la Bourse highly recommended. easy walk from intercontinental
Le Bouchon Bordelais is a 2 minute walk from InterContinental. would recommend for a more casual but still very memorable meal in an atmospheric, cozy room, with very high quality food reflecting the region and what’s in season (specials on chalk board - all sounded great and none of us had one complaint about the many dishes tried and a fairly particular crew). remembered this place from a group dinner 8 years earlier and it’s still going strong. (I’d choose it over La Brasserie Bordelaise a block away whose ambiance to me is a little less inviting though food was good)
-La Maison d’Estournel - in the Medoc, a few km north of Cos d’Estournel itself in St. Estephe. The restaurant of this boutique hotel was a wonderful find on this trip. Perfect setting (for me) to enjoy a long, leisurely lunch break in an elegant setting after or between estate visits. Price reflective (but who isn’t in a mood to celebrate in such situations).
-Was thoroughly looking forward to a return visit to Le Pressoir D’Argent in the Intercontinental Hotel after an outstanding experience there on previous visit. Sadly wasn’t repeated. Nothing to specifically point a finger at - the place still earns it 2 stars evidently - and maybe that’s the issue that expectations were just too high. Same can be said for hotel itself as rooms were a disappointment this time round and the hotel seemed to have dropped a notch in the 8 yrs since was last there. In fairness we had also arrived from Hotel Pavie in St. Emilion that hit it out of the park.
-La Tupina. had an enjoyable lunch here. Happy to have gone and fun for a decadent, traditional meal (still salivating over the fries, chicken and fois gras terrine that paired astoundingly well with the Ch Montus dry white from the pyrenees i’ve been on a mission to find in Canada ever since). If I lived in town I suspect I’d only bring tourist friends to tick the box as there’s an undeniable vibe that the place doesn’t aspire to much beyond what it seems - a slightly faded institution that can still hit some high notes
Our dinner at Le Pressoir D’Argent during our stay the end of September was a bit disappointing. The food was technically well prepared and looked amazing, but some of the dishes just didn’t taste good. For example, we had a seafood dish whose flavor was dominated by a red pepper sauce that completely obscured the taste of the fish and other ingredients. Other dishes, like the beef and especially the bread and butter, were delicious but we didn’t expect the variability. The wine pairings were nice and seemed a good value compared to the prices on the wine list. On the other hand, the service was trying so hard to be formal it was almost comical. The combination of military parade-like movement and tap shoes reverberating on the dining room’s hard wood floor made it feel like we were being served by robots and not by fine dining service professionals.
We thought the hotel was fine, but it was our first stay, so we couldn’t compare it to any previous stays. We had booked on points and were given an upgrade to one of the junior suites overlooking the opera house.
We did have excellent meals at Restaurant Melodie and O p’tit bahut. Both were casual and very reasonably priced, especially for the quality of the food. They are less than a 10-minute walk from the Le Grand.