After having lunch at Mugaritz the day before, Akelaŕe was up next in our line-up. C and I have never been to Akelaŕe before and I don’t really know why. It has held 3 Michelin stars since 2007 and in 2011 was ranked 94th overall in the world. So after two years of visiting San Sebastian and missing out, we decided to finally give it a try.
The first thing you notice when you arrive at Akelaŕe is the view from the dining room, and what a view it is.
From all the restaurants we’ve been to, hands down Akelaŕe has the best view. We were lucky enough that the weather held up through out the afternoon as one of the main reasons we made lunch reservations was to enjoy the view.
Akelaŕe serves three kinds of menus, two tasting menus (Aranori and Bekarki) and an à la carte menu. Being the caring older brother that I am, I let C choose which tasting menu she wanted and I would get the other. This resulted in C getting the Bekarki menu and I getting the Aranori.
The food itself was awesome. It was traditional Basque but super modern at the same time. It popped with color, played with your mind a little bit and had great balance between the sea, air and land flavours found in the area. But one thing to note about dining at Akelaŕe is that it is not for the dainty eaters out there. Even though there were only eight courses in each tasting menu (six mains and two desserts), C and I were definitely really full afterwards.
One bite which completely gave us a mind fuck was the Oyster Leaf appetizer.
The presentation was so deceiving that there was no possible way that the dish could taste like a full, lump, rich oyster. But to our surprise, it completely did! The texture and flavour of every bite was exactly like biting a real oyster.
The front of the house staff was comparable to other Michelin starred restaurants we’ve been to. They were attentive, explained courses thoroughly, answered all our questions to the T and had an effortless flare finishing course preparations (videos below).
However, one thing that was lacking was the personal connection we usually feel with a restaurant after leaving. Being relatively young, we enjoy the casual interaction, conversations, banter and in-sight we have with the front of house staff, and we did not get that from Akelaŕe. The staff seemed to give the diners plenty of space to enjoy and chat with one another, which some people really like, but not us.
The highlight of the afternoon came when Chef Pedro Subijana came out of the kitchen and mingled with each guest (via translator for the English speaking diners). We always find it amazing when the mastermind behind these restaurants spend some time with us. Aside from raving about the food, I told Chef Pedro that I really liked his glasses which gave him a quick chuckle.
Looking back, the overriding memory I have of our experience at Akelaŕe is of how truly Basque it was. Even though it seemed very modern in terms of cooking techniques and presentation, at it’s core, Akelaŕe never strays away from the flavours and essence of Basque cuisine.
To view pictures of our meal in its entirety, click through the photo set below. If you are using a mobile device, please click here for compatibility.
Thanks for reading,
S & C