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“Nahm move over, the Basques are in town and with Ametsa they mean serious business”.

 

After having won just about everything there is to win with their legendary restaurant Arzak, father and daughter tag-team Juan Mari and Elena Arzák are now taking on the challenge of introducing  foodies in London to their Basque style of avant garde cooking with their new restaurant Ametsa.

 

Amuse bouche of scorpion fish (9.5/10)

Amuse bouche of scorpion fish (9.5/10)

Amuse bouche of scorpion fish (9.5/10)

Amuse bouche of scorpion fish (9.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat's cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat's cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat's cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat's cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)

 

Given the buzz around anything Arzak, it comes as no surprise that on the day that the reservation lines opened for Ametsa the restaurant received over a 1,000 requests for a table. We were lucky enough to secure a booking and decided to visit Ametsa on their opening day. In fact we were the first guests to be seated and served for dinner on their opening day.

Scallops with beta carrotine (7.5/10)

Scallops with beta carrotine (7.5/10)

Scallops with beta carrotine (7.5/10)

Scallops with beta carrotine (7.5/10)

Pan seared foie gras with dried fig and grapefruit (8.5/10)

Pan seared foie gras with dried fig and grapefruit (8.5/10)

Slow cooked egg and chicken broth (9/10)

Slow cooked egg and chicken broth (9/10)

 

Donostia, the Basque region of Spain, is one of the most important culinary destinations for foodies worldwide and contains some of the very best restaurants that the world has to offer (think Mugaritz, Martin Berasategui and Akelare). A few years ago we visited Arzak in Donostia, Spain and were very impressed with the cooking. Something which should come as no surprise as Arzak has been awarded 3 Michelin stars and consistently ranks high on the San Pellegrino list of top 100 restaurants in the world. In addition to that Elena Arzak won the best female chef 2012 San Pellegrino award. With those type of credentials it is no wonder that Ametsa‘s opening in the world’s culinary most relevant city of London is a very big deal.

Monkfish with red onion sheet (8.5/10)

Monkfish with red onion sheet (8.5/10)

Monkfish with red onion sheet (8.5/10)

Monkfish with red onion sheet (8.5/10)

Lamb with macchiato sheet (8/10)

Lamb with macchiato sheet (8/10)

Lamb with macchiato sheet (8/10)

Lamb with macchiato sheet (8/10)

 

Ametsa offers a tasting menu and an a la carte menu. We opted for the tasting menu and our meal on the opening day of Ametsa consisted of:

  • Amuse bouche of scorpion fish (9.5/10)
  • Amuse bouche of goat’s cheese with turmeric (8.5/10)
  • Amuse bouche of fish mousse with rice cake (9/10)
  • Scallops with beta carrotine (7.5/10)
  • Pan seared foie gras with dried fig and grapefruit (8.5/10)
  • Slow cooked egg and chicken broth (9/10)
  • Monkfish with red onion sheet (8.5/10)
  • Lamb with macchiato sheet (8/10)
  • Mango and coconut (9.5/10)
  • Moon rocks (8/10)
  • Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)
Mango and coconut (9.5/10)

Mango and coconut (9.5/10)

Mango and coconut (9.5/10)

Mango and coconut (9.5/10)

Moon rocks (8/10)

Moon rocks (8/10)

Mango and coconut (9.5/10)

Mango and coconut (9.5/10)

Moon rocks (8/10)

Moon rocks (8/10)

 

So is the food at Ametsa a dream (Ametsa means ‘dream’ in Basque)? We would have to say a resounding: yes. With our meal at Alyn Williams it ranks as one of the best fine dining meals we’ve enjoyed so far this year. The food is not quite as adventurous as at Arzak, but many of the dishes are already a success even though it was their first night. Similar things can be said about the service. We have little doubt that once they iron out a few start-up niggles Ametsa start getting recognition from Michelin, Grandes Tables du Monde, etc.

Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)

Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)

Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)

Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)

Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)

Petits fours of parsley macaroons, cheese and chocolate traffic lights (9/10)

 

The tasting menu costs around £105 per person and the overall bill at Ametsa came to £270 (including service charge, 2 bottles of water and flight of matching wines).

 

The food rating for Ametsa: 8.5/10

The service rating for Ametsa: 8.5/10

The overall rating for Ametsa: 8.5/10

(The overall rating is based on personal taste, opinion of the ambiance and the price).

6 comments on “Ametsa with Arzak Instruction at the Halkin, Mar 2013

  1. Alan Spedding ( cumbriafoodie )

    After reading your post it seems like ill be on to a lost cause if i attempt to reserve a table anytime soon…wow , its going to be popular.
    Food looks nice , intersting and certainly different so i`ll definitely get it on the list for my next trip to London.
    Cheers.

  2. bacononthebeech

    I have a reservation for Ametsa but after some mixed reviews wasn’t sure if I should cancel and go somewhere that is less of a ‘gamble’ (Like The Square.) We are coming down from Manchester just for the day and don’t get down to London that often.
    However reading your positive review, I’m now not sure if I should go for it after all!

    1. TerryKnerryBoy Post author

      We enjoyed Ametsa for what it was, but it’s certainly not the best fine dining experience in London. If you want to be wowed I’d opt for Ledbury, Viajante or Texture. Ametsa is certainly not in that league.

  3. Jane Hill

    Really? Such high scores for incredibly disjointed food and uninterested service? I was thoroughly disappointed with my lunch there and would never go back.

    That being said, I went to Arzak in January and was distinctly underwhelmed as well.

  4. TerryKnerryBoy Post author

    Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy your lunch at Ametsa. We didn’t visit for lunch, but for dinner. The service was good when we visited and tasting menu very enjoyable. Is it the best fine dining experience we’ve ever had? No, but as mentioned in the review, with our visit to Alyn Williams it was our best fine dining experience in Q1 2013.

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