To be honest, when we first saw this building from the outside we thought this could be a nice but unspectacular family-run restaurant but not a 3-star restaurant (since 1989) or a restaurant rated at number nine on „The World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards„. Anyway Arzak is really still a family-run restaurant, but far away from unspectacular once you enter the house. By now Elena in fourth generation holds the sceptre in the kitchen.
Before we were lead to our table we were offered to have a look at the kitchen where we had small talk with Elena who surprisingly speaks German quite well. What a highlight! I mean, how often do you get the opportunity to look behind the scenes in such a restaurant? Full of vim like little children we went to our table and couldn’t help but find everything else perfect. :)
Service is really great, very attentive and friendly. Aperitif and the first appetizers (Arzak’s amusements) were served within minutes. A little shortcoming is the fact that hardly anybody speaks English there. But this seems to be a general problem in Spain.
We went for the „Tasting Menu“ which consists of fix parts and courses where you can choose of two or more alternatives. Elena herself explained the courses in short words and it was no problem to choose different meals for the four courses with options.
So we opted for different meals for the meat, fish and dessert. Only the order for the second course was the same: We were both not able to resist the lobster.
One of the highlights was „Egg of the moment“. During our vacation in Spain we got the feeling that eggs are one of the favourites in Spanish gastronomy. The egg was served perfectly arranged but we were instructed to mash up the ingredients before taking a bite. For sure the look changed from wonderful to something pap-like but the taste was heavenly. As I am not taking notes (my „not-more-than-30-seconds“ rule is used by taking pictures) and the visit is quite a while ago I can’t remember all the components but we were really flashed by something simple like an egg.
My hubby chose the sole and this was the right decision. I really don’t know why I picked the monkfish, usually I forgo this fish. At least the presentation of the monkfish was pretty good and lovelier than my hubby’s course. :)
Beef, lamb, pigeon or goose liver – these were the options for the main course. While my hubby opted for the pigeon I selected the goose liver. Good for me because pigeon seems to be the second favourite beside eggs on Spanish menus and we were served more pigeons during our Spain vacation than in my whole life before. :)
My goose liver was served with a white-chocolate-corn sauce. This combination was amazing! Until now my „best-liked“ creation with goose liver was „Gänseleber mit Kaiserschmarrn“ from Volker Drkosch we ate at the restaurant Victorian. Sorry, but I think I have a new favourite.
Slowly but surely a feeling of satiety came over me and so I didn’t trust my ears when I heard my hubby ordering an extra beef course. I think there is no feeling of satiety on cloud number nine … Once more service and kitchen showed how flexible and obliging they are because within minutes the meal was served and we haven’t been charged for it at the end of the evening. Meanwhile I admired the interior which was quite modern in comparison to the outside.
The desserts were so many, almost an own little menu. Just take a look and enjoy the pictures.
Last but not least some comments on the sommelier and the wine. Using English (we), Spanish or Basque (the sommelier) and our hands and facial expressions we let him know what are our key requests and let him choose the wines. Bingo, right decision!
White wine was coming from Bodegas Pazo de Señoráns „Sol de Señoráns“, 2006. An Albariño from the wine region Rias-Baixas (Galicia), six months aged in barrique, with scents of apricots, peaches and citrus fruits and a fine touch of wood.
Second recommendation was „200 Monges“, Reserva 2004 from Bodegas Vinicola Real. It is a quite new and small vineyard, producing a modern, unfiltrated Rioja with the „200 Monges“ which has nothing to do with the classic Rioja style. My hubby was so impressed by this vine that we had to visit this winery some days later. Stay tuned for a short report!