Mugaritz is one of the few restaurants in Basque Country with 2 or more Michelin stars. It’s run by Andoni Luis Aduriz who came out of Arzak’s kitchen. Arzak was my first choice, but it was closed during my visit to Spain, so I went with Mugaritz.
Now, you may recognize Chef Aduriz from David Chang’s Mind of a Chef show. He’s the one who spent years perfecting the perfect temperature to poach an egg. Now, Mugartiz’s accolades:
- 2 Michelin star in 2014-2017
- #6 on the San Pellegrino 2014 World’s Best Restaurants
- #6 on the San Pellegrino 2015 World’s Best Restaurants
- #7 on the San Pellegrino 2016 World’s Best Restaurants
I woke up at 4:30 AM to catch a flight from BCN to EAS. My trip to San Sebastián was only for a day. The primary reason was to dine at Mugaritz and enjoy some Basque Country pinotxos. San Sebastián and Barcelona were two cities in Europe that I wanted to visit. It’s essentially the food capital of Europe in my opinion. I wanted to experience the tapas/pinotxo culture and I wanted to dine at some of Spain’s renowned restaurants. It included Tickets Bar in Barcelona and Arzak; however, as I mentioned, Arzak was closed.
Mugaritz is very elegant restaurant with it’s oak wood. There are a lot of symbolism with the name of the restaurant and the line that divides the restaurant into two halves. Mugaritz has a tree delimitates the frontier between both towns. The restaurant atmosphere reminds me of the scenery and environment of French Laundry and Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa, CA. It has a classy and sophisticated atmosphere.
Now, the service. I was seated in the middle of the restaurant and given a tour of the kitchen upon arrival. The CDC and Head Chef did a fantastic job at explaining how the kitchen works and the first thing I noticed was the black board on the right as I entered the kitchen. The same blackboard in the Mind of a Chef episode.
The wait staff service was like a ballet and there was a sense of urgency in their delivery. I could tell they took their jobs very seriously. Furthermore, there wasn’t an actual dress code, but it was smart casual, which is the norm with the majority of European establishments. Smart casual means no shorts, sandals, or work out apparel.
The food. It’s a 22 course tasting menu only. The dishes were very creative in preparation to presentation. It ranged from anything to local source ingredients to horse meat. I thought it would be a piece of cake to conquer even though I gorged ourselves with pinotxo at three different restaurants in the morning. Here are my memorable dishes:
- Glazed mille-feuille of Lamb – It’s a slice of lamb glazed multiple times and served on a leaf. The leaf added a very earthy flavor to the lamb. It’s easily the best slice of lamb I’ve tasted. Lamb is usually gamy, but the slow roasted lamb was extremely tender. It was amazing how they changed the flavors and texture of the lamb to taste completely different.
- Savory French Toast – The fluffy bite size french toast topped with uni then served with powdered sugar in a pouch. I had to shake the pouch to sprinkle the sugar on the french toast. This was a great combination. The silky uni went divinely with the fluffy french toast. The first bite consistent of air from the french toast then your palate is slowly overwhelmed with the silky uni. It slowly disappeared in your mouth and the only thing left is the after taste of the uni.
- Cheek in its concentrated jus – What kind of cheek? Horse cheek. Yes, horse meat. This was a bit weird for me. The texture of the horse cheek was actually very gentle but I couldn’t get over the taste. It had this really weird taste to it and I wasn’t sure if I psyched myself cause I couldn’t stop thinking of Seabiscuit, Spirit and every other horse related movie. It really left a bad aftertaste on my palate.
Overall, I thought Mugaritz was a great experience. However, Mugaritz is a very experimental restaurant; at times, the creativity didn’t translate well with the taste of the dish. It’s a common theme when it comes to haute cuisine. There are moments where I’m completely over haute cuisine and just want a bibimbap bowl. I think I might have ruin my meal here because I had pintoxos before I ate here. But the innovative preparation along with the creative presentation made it a worthwhile experience for me.
Check out our other San Sebastian articles here.
- Service - 8.5/108.5/10
- Presentation - 8.5/108.5/10
- Flavors - 6/106/10
- Decor - 8.5/108.5/10
- Atmosphere - 9/109/10
Mugaritz is very elegant restaurant with it’s oak wood. The wait staff service was like a ballet and there was a sense of urgency in their delivery. The innovative preparation along with the creative presentation made it a worth while experience for me.