Restaurants & Bars

Basque Report - Part 1 - Eating from A(Arzak) to Z(Zuberoa)

AmyH | Aug 6, 200312:54 PM

A ten night visit to the Basque area of Spain included 4 nights in Honderrabia at the wonderful Parador, 3 nights in the Picos de Europa, 2 nights in the wine country of Laguardia and a final night in Bilbao. With only three eating days in the San Sebastian area, it was difficult to decide among the michelin stars -- we chose Zuberoa and Mugaritz for dinner and Arzak for lunch and were quite happy with our choices. Luckily, I escaped with the menus from all three so I can provide fellow chowhounds with our full menus:
Zuberoa - Our first stop. Lovely setting in an old house, we dined on the enclosed terrace. Of the modern restaurants, this was the most "old school" with 4-5 servers lined up against the wall, waiting for a patron to need something, more formal china setting, but not stuffy by any means. The staff was gracious and warm, and while fully conversant in English, indulged us by ,at our request, letting us practice our bad spanish. But you want the food:
Cold marmitako cream with tuna and caviar jelly - a light, white fish sauce with some vanilla hints covers the plate, atop is a perfect piece of basically raw tune and a dollop of caviar jelly - the essence of fish in a variety of forms. Brilliant.
Crispy Scampi and bacon in salad - two large scampi, cold, paired with a piece of slab bacon (almost like fois gras, really) with some greens. Good taste combination, but not memorable
Creamy rice with lobster and saffron - a lobster and saffron rice pudding (arroz con leche). This was an excellent combination of the cream, vanilla, saffron and lobster -- sweet, creamy, perfect textures
Roast foie gras with aromas - perfectly cooked with jus and aromas of cinnamon, cardoman ?. I love all fois gras, so what can I say? I was in heaven
Griddled squid with onion - a confiture of onion paired with squid so perfectly marinated and cooked that it was actually fork tender to cut. Another keeper
Preserved cod with cockle vinaigrette
Rosemary flavored roast pigeon on truffled cabbage - the breast of the pigeon infused with rosemary oil. Very meaty and earthy, not gamey and the earthy cabbage.
Coconut creamy sweet, chocolate ganache and pineapple sorbet
Modena flavoured strawberry sobret on a biscotti

We enjoyed Zuberoa, but as you can see from the menu, and combinations, we are not talking Adrian Fera froths, essences or firecrackers. Excellent preparation, memorable dining, Yes. Next post, on to Arzak.

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