Ametsa – With Arzak Instruction

With Nahm leaving an empty space in COMO The Halkin, after they moved to Bangkok (see), the Ametsa was born in 2013, more precisely the Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, a not so happy name for the first adventure of Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena outside the Basque Country and his magical Arzak (***Michelin).

About the parchment of its creators there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said, and they don’t arrive in London with something to prove to anybody, however, everytime a celebrity chef arrives in town, mostly when in a consulting way, there are questions to ask, mainly about the ability of the space to respect the identity and philosophy of a chef, without him being in the kitchen. And for that, the Arzaks brought to London some key elements of their team, Mikel SorazuIgor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez, so nothing was left to chance.

The decoration respects the modernity of the cuisine; a white room with metallic details, where the resource to wood brings us some comfort, making it cozy and less cold. A special note to the detail of the ceiling, full of thousands of test tubes full of spices – a good detail, deserving of some attention by those welcoming us.

Already installed, we were once again received by a loud and good Portuguese (our young emigrants are everywhere!), a detail that always conquers us and here helped us understand all the details of each dish.

After a great Sourdough and a great whole wheat bread with pumpkin seeds, submerged in fresh, herbaceous and spicy olive oil, followed the classic welcoming of the chef.

 The welcoming at Ametsa

Starting by the Rascasso with kataifi dough, a classic that is presented, for years, as welcome at Arzak, paying an homage to the mother house, the fish is transformed into a kind of nicely prepared cake, with good flavor and texture, contrasting well with the crunchy of the kataifi dough on the outside. Following was a Test Tube of Iberian Prosciutto, showing all the technical rigor of the Spanish avant-garde, where the good game of textures suffered from the lack of prosciutto flavor.

And lastly, we tasted a Sardine Doughnut, with an excellent presentation, but with a very dense dough, losing a bit of the sardine flavor. Great contrast of the onion pickle and truffle oil.

Resuming, a beginning with highs and lows, but anticipating a good level to what would follow.

On the glass we started with a Jerez, Delgado Zuleta Monteagudo Oloroso, a very gastronomic wine, of amber color and marked notes of dry fruits and wood, in the mouth, its dryness and softness contrasted well with the intensity and deepness of its ending in the mouth.  

Scarlet Shrimp, spinach, and orange flower 
For starters, we got the suggestion of the scarlet shrimp, of flawless texture and cooking, nicely paired with the spices and freshness of the orange flower gel. An unusual combination of flavors that worked out very well!

Sea bass with marinated banana
A dish with a somewhat tropical combination that quickly transported me to the fish dishes with banana and passion fruit from the Madeira Island. Here showing some influences from other latitudes, with a trip to Asia and Latin America. Very good flavor and cooking of the fish, as well as the contrast of flavors and textures of the banana.

Harmonizing was a white from Rioja 2015 – Tierra, a wine of golden tones and whit fruit aromas, citric, a bit of excess wood, revealing a soft path in the mouth, with an acidity that worked well with the dish.

Venison with Longan
Excellent presentation in another combo of Asian inspiration with the resource to Longan, that brought a sweet and sour side, but fresh, to the venison pairings. The meat was the least interesting element, much because of the cooking point that could’ve been lower. High score to the cardamom sauce and the notes of the pepper cream.

On the glass, we traveled to Bierzo with a Xestal 100% Mencia from 2009, a concentrated wine, full of dark fruit, structured in the mouth, with a long ending. An interesting combination with the richness of the plate.

Palate cleanser

As a palate cleanser, we traveled to Iran, with a sweet inspired in Limu Omani, the dry limes/lemons prepared to turn into a spice of citric and vinegar notes. Here recreated through a great lemon curd covered in chocolate and benefiting from the intense flavors of the “real” Limu Omani.

Giant Truffle
This dessert is already a classic at  Ametsa, one, apparently, giant chocolate truffle, that is watered with a chocolate sauce causing it to melt before our eyes while the several textures of chocolate and cocoa mix together. A sin to any chocolate lover’s heart, enhanced by the notes of Cointreau.

Petit Fours

To finish an already long meal, the petit fours travel between flavors of chocolate, pistachio, and raspberry.

The Service went perfectly, with a subtle touch of informality well balanced with the rigor and knowledge of a starred restaurant.

Final Remarks
The brand of the Arzaks in the Spanish avant-garde is well marked in the cuisine of this Ametsa, obviously, no one can expect a dinner here to be like traveling to San Sebastian, with Elena and Juan Mari heading the brigades and spreading their charm in the room while talking to their guests and explaining their creations. We do expect a good alliance between contemporary decoration, good service and a cuisine created from head to toe and some memorable dishes.

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
Average price: £70 per person without wine or fees 
Halkin Street  – London
+44 020 7333 1234
ametsa.thehalkin@comohotels.com

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

Disclaimer
We were at Ametsa by invitation of the COMO group, whereas this does not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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