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Daniel

San Sebastian, March 2008

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I would appreciate it if someone were to give me a break down or comparison between these two places.. If you had to go to one, which would it be and why?

Thanks.

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Although I have only been to Mugaritz, I fullheartedly recommend it...it was undoubtedly one of (if not the) best meals I've ever had.....Every course was incredibly delicious, and a few were so good I sent the restaurant an email begging for the recipes a week later....of course they're incredibly complicated and I doubt i'll actually prepare them.

As for MB's, I've heard very mixed reviews, with a lot of people saying its gone slightly down hill over the last few years. I certainly think Mugaritz is a more inventive restaurant in terms of Aduriz' use of ingredients and techniques.

Go to Mugaritz! I wish i could go back with you and eat there again....sigh....maybe one day.

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There is nobody more cutting edge than Aduriz. He also happens to be a genuinely lovely and brilliant man. That would be my choice though I would love to do both.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I had the opportunity to eat at Mugaritz, MB, Arzak and Akellare all in one week last year and I would recommend Mugaritz at the top of the list to visit. The creative flavor combinations and inventive concepts of Mugaritz were unparalleled. MB was good but for my taste, the preparations were lacking and the setting and service were below par. I would rate it below Arzak but above Akellare.

BTW, Adruiz has recently published an small book/encyclopedia which includes a DVD where Adruiz demonstrates the preparation of about a dozen of his dishes. It is mind-blowing to observe how much care, thinking and effort goes into each of his dishes.

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I have two reservations at Arzak, one for lunch one for dinner.. After your suggestions, I will make one at Mugaritz.. I think that's enough reservations for me.. I hate feeling obligated to do anything on my vacation besides cheeel.. Will I end up in the South of France, drive around Spain, or just sit and eat for 14 days.. I dont want to be bothered..

Mugaritz for lunch or dinner?

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I have two reservations at Arzak, one for lunch one for dinner.. After your suggestions, I will make one at Mugaritz.. I think that's enough reservations for me.. I hate feeling obligated to do anything on my vacation besides cheeel.. Will I end up in the South of France, drive around Spain, or just sit and eat for 14 days.. I dont want to be bothered..

Mugaritz for lunch or dinner?

You are probably better off doing your big sit down meals at lunch as you can spend your evenings in San Sebastien doing "pintxos", the Basque version of tapas.

One restaurant that should probably be on your list if it isn't already is Etxebarri. I haven't been yet, though it is one of the restaurants in the world I would most like to get to. The topic in the link above explains why.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I second Etxebarri. I went to Mugaritz and Etxebarri on my last trip to San Sebastien, and both were wonderful. Pictures are on the boards somewhere.

Also went to Arzak, and was a little disappointed (mostly because I had a phenomenal meal there the year before).

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Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.. Has anyone started a Best of San Sebastian thread yet.. EIther by particular pinxtos or overall experience..

For example I would like to know where the best Uni Dish is.. Or who has the best seafood, who has the best meats, and so on..

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hye daniel, i've been promising myself i'd start the formentioned thread ever since i got to san seb 4 months ago... so far i've just been eating and drinking. but i am well informed (or getting there), and have managed to figure out that most san seb 'where-to-go-threads' are very out of date. so i'm just gonna shoot some at you, and let me know if you need something more specific:

pintxos:

personal favorites are:

- 'fuego negro' (31 de agosto), very cool place, sleek design, modern pintxos, with an affinity to foams, gels and their cousins. regular winner in pintxos competition, ask for the latest 'ganador' (award winning pintxo)

- 'Borda Berri' (fermin calbeton) -sister bar to the famous 'cuchara de san telmo', this place is spacier, cosier, with better music, and open more regularly, then it's somewhat capricious older sister. very meaty, fatty, gelatinous and mouth-watering. go for the manita (pig trotter), the foie, the croqueta de brendada, carillera (veal cheek) or whatever they say is good.

- 'bari-goiz' (i think it's called), small place two doors down from borda berri. great brocheta de gambas (shrimp skewer), callos (veal stomach i think), and pretty much everything is nice here.

this one i've been recomended but havn't went yet: 'el lagar', it's in gros (my neigborhood) went by it and it looks very nice, so go be adventurous.

sit down (non michelin superstarred):

-juanito kojua- this is where i'm staging, i believe the best fish in town. i mean huge lubinas (i once found a whole octopus in one of those babies), precious besugos (with the hook still in mouth, rodaballo, rape, bogovante, kokotxas, bacalao, MERO!!!!!, Merluza (get the cogote!). also we put lots of energy in nice veggies: artichokes, cardos, eggplant, habitas (fava beans).

just a very high quality traditional basque place, tell them Yonatan sent you, or if you're there for lunch during the week come say hi at the kitchen.

- urepel: this is where my girlfriend was staging and i've been nagging to go for ages, this saturday i'll finally go hopefully... chef's been in el bulli for 5 years, with MB for 2 more. apparently the man knows his stuff, the place is always full and is known as a place to eat well. basque, but not hardcore traditional.

for a good chuleton try 'txuleta' or 'casa gandarias'

or even better, reserve a lunch/dinner at a sidreria (february-april) for chorizo, tortilla de bacalao, chuleta, queso+membrillo and litres on litres of fresh sider from the barrel.... don't count on walking home.

hope that was helpful, and sorry if i went completely off thread....

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What are the general hours of the pintxos places? Can you get good bites 12-14?

There have been suggestions to do sit down lunches and then the pintxos crawl later?

We are going to be in San Sebastian mid March and will be doing the triology of Mugaritz, Arzak and Akelarre.

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What are the general hours of the pintxos places?  Can you get good bites 12-14?

There have been suggestions to do sit down lunches and then the pintxos crawl later?

We are going to be in San Sebastian mid March and will be doing the triology of Mugaritz, Arzak and Akelarre.

Pintxos are best after 10PM. have a nice lunch at one of San Sebastien's fine restaurants then go pick here and there for dinner. Don't forget to have a little txocoli with your pintxos. While txocoli is not my favorite wine or something I would buy for my cellar, it works quite nicely in context.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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hye daniel, i've been promising myself i'd start the formentioned thread ever since i got to san seb 4 months ago... so far i've just been eating and drinking. but i am  well informed (or getting there), and have managed to figure out that most san seb 'where-to-go-threads' are very out of date. so i'm just gonna shoot some at you, and let me know if you need something more specific:

pintxos:

personal favorites are:

- 'fuego negro' (31 de agosto), very cool place, sleek design, modern pintxos, with an affinity to foams, gels and their cousins. regular winner in pintxos competition, ask for the latest 'ganador' (award winning pintxo)

- 'Borda Berri' (fermin calbeton) -sister bar to the famous 'cuchara de san telmo', this place is spacier, cosier, with better music, and open more regularly, then it's somewhat capricious older sister. very meaty, fatty, gelatinous and mouth-watering. go for the manita (pig trotter), the foie, the croqueta de brendada, carillera (veal cheek) or whatever they say is good.

- 'bari-goiz' (i think it's called), small place two doors down from borda berri. great brocheta de gambas (shrimp skewer), callos (veal stomach i think), and pretty much everything is nice here.

this one i've been recomended but havn't went yet: 'el lagar', it's in gros (my neigborhood) went by it and it looks very nice, so go be adventurous.

sit down (non michelin superstarred):

-juanito kojua- this is where i'm staging, i believe the best fish in town. i mean huge lubinas (i once found a whole octopus in one of those babies), precious besugos (with the hook still in mouth, rodaballo, rape, bogovante, kokotxas, bacalao, MERO!!!!!, Merluza (get the cogote!). also we put lots of energy in nice veggies: artichokes, cardos, eggplant, habitas (fava beans).

just a very high quality traditional basque place, tell them Yonatan sent you, or if you're there for lunch during the week come say hi at the kitchen.

- urepel: this is where my girlfriend was staging and i've been nagging to go for ages, this saturday i'll finally go hopefully... chef's been in el bulli for 5 years, with MB for 2 more. apparently the man knows his stuff, the place is always full and is known as a place to eat well. basque, but not hardcore traditional.

for a good chuleton try 'txuleta' or 'casa gandarias'

or even better, reserve a lunch/dinner at a sidreria (february-april) for chorizo, tortilla de bacalao, chuleta, queso+membrillo and litres on litres of fresh sider from the barrel.... don't count on walking home.

hope that was helpful, and sorry if i went completely off thread....

Thanks for the update. It is precisely because I haven't been all that recently that I am not giving specific recommendations other than what I am hearing is very, very good.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I have another question, should we go to the South of France or you think there is enough to do in San Sebastian for 14 days.. Granted I am not some great outdoor adventurer.. My perfect day is a big breakfast with drinks, a short walk, a big lunch with drinks, nap, snack, big dinner around 9 or 10 with drinks.. Bed.

Can one be happing doing that for two weeks in San Sebastian?

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The apartment I am looking at is mayor, 17 - In the historic district. Is this a good area to be in..

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I have another question, should we go to the South of France or you think there is enough to do in San Sebastian for 14 days.. Granted I am not some great outdoor adventurer.. My perfect day is a big breakfast with drinks, a short walk, a big lunch with drinks, nap, snack, big dinner around 9 or 10 with drinks.. Bed.

Can one be happing doing that for two weeks in San Sebastian?

If it were me I would either head west along the coast to Galicia or south to Navarra and on towards either Valencia or Madrid. The south of France is pretty cool though too.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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The apartment I am looking at is mayor, 17 - In the historic district. Is this a good area to be in..


Edited by yonatanbram (log)

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The apartment I am looking at is mayor, 17 - In the historic district.  Is this a good area to be in..

Probably not the best part to get proper rest, you'll love it if you don't mind being right in the middle of the action trading off some sleep.

Go to Mugaritz. Andoni seems to be hitting the nail on the head these days while Martín, as much as I hate to say it, seems to be lost in complexities without aim. This is less obvious if you order the Martín's tasting menu, comprising both the newest dishes with past highlights.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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What time do the Pinxtos bars open and close for the most part?

What is a typical breakfast consist of in San Sebastian?

Are there any amazing cheese shops or jam places I have to go?

What happens at lunch time.. Besides going high end, I want local, simple, honest places..

Thanks everyone so much for all your help.. You are really making my trip so special..

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- some bars will open with cold pintxos for breakfast and then switch to lunch, and some will open around 12:30. they all pretty much shut down around 16:00 and re-open 19:30-20:00 till 23:00 or so.

and

- breakfast would consist of coffee (decent coffee in spain) or colacao (chocolate milk, surprisingly common amongst grown men and women) and a pastry (croissant, brioche, toast etc.). it is curious however to watch how this is eaten: pastries are cut using fork and knife and eaten dipped in said hot beverage (i've seen this done with anything from plain croissant to toast smeared with butter and jam)

- not to familiar with cheese shops here, you might want to visit the nearby village of Idiazabal, the famous basque cheese's namesake, i'm guessing there's cheese to be found there.

- like someone had already mentioned ,lunch is a good time to sit down for a good meal if your on vacation, saving the night for a more dynamic pintxo bar crawl, which in this town can also be perceived as a self composed tasting menu with short walks between courses....

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Another thought as I am writing up my Madrid Fusion report is that you can head south and spend some time in the Rioja! There is plenty of great food and wine to be had there as well as some stunning architecture.


Edited by docsconz (log)

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I have another question, should we go to the South of France or you think there is enough to do in San Sebastian for 14 days.. Granted I am not some great outdoor adventurer.. My perfect day is a big breakfast with drinks, a short walk, a big lunch with drinks, nap, snack, big dinner around 9 or 10 with drinks.. Bed.

Can one be happing doing that for two weeks in San Sebastian?

14 days? I would definitely check some other places out. I loved Biarritz, France; you could Eurorail it, too, through France and Spain (therefore buying that ticket in dollars and saving some money). Pamplona is a nice, town, too. I took my honeymoon two years ago, and for 2+ weeks we went to 9 different locations (all in France except San Sebastian), so I'm a bit biased. I'm not the type of person to use a foreign vacation to relax, but to explore...

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The apartment I am looking at is mayor, 17 - In the historic district.  Is this a good area to be in..

Probably not the best part to get proper rest, you'll love it if you don't mind being right in the middle of the action trading off some sleep.

Go to Mugaritz. Andoni seems to be hitting the nail on the head these days while Martín, as much as I hate to say it, seems to be lost in complexities without aim. This is less obvious if you order the Martín's tasting menu, comprising both the newest dishes with past highlights.

Thought I would add my enthusiasm for choosing Mugaritz. I totally agree with Pedro's assessment of Martin B's recent efforts.

We were thrilled with our last two meals earlier this month (February) at Mugaritz; his consummate fois gras preparation achieved an all time high for us! He served fois gras with fresh sea urchins. It was a remarkable pairing of flavors.

He also prepared another exquisite dish ..entitled an essay on salads: warm lettuce hearts soaked in vanilla brine, a dressing of balsamic vinegar and country milk skins. An amazing combination.

Carrots cooked in clay, ash and perfumed grains in a concentrated broth of sauteed squid and Arbequina olive. A superb dish. His creativity is endless and each dish utterly delicious.

His desserts were all unique and memorable. I savored the carmelized french toast enriched with cream and egg yolk. This was topped with handmade ice cream of ewe's milk. Divine! Hope that helps your decision making. Judith Gebhart

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I have to add my vote to Mugaritz.  We also visited Mugaritz, Arzak, MB, and Akelare in 4 consecutive days, Mugaritz is by far the best, and MB was the most disappointing meal that week.

www.finediningexplorer.com/Spain.

Interesting you mention this. My parents just did the same 4, and came to the exact same conclusion. They used to be big MB fans, but the last two times they went (including one I went with them), found it to be disappointing.


Arley Sasson

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