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San Sebastian Restaurants: Recommendations


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  • 1 year later...

Elkano is in Getaria, a small harbour village about twenty minutes on the bus from San Sebastian. It costs about €3 for the round trip by bus. There are a number of restaurants in town, each with a charcoal grill outside cooking the days catch or whatever else they can over the coals. Wandering around I saw monkfish, large sole, artichokes with bacon and beef on the grills. Getaria smells good.

Elkano is not particularly cheap. The menu lists starters from €12 to over €30 and the mains I was interested in were priced by the kilo. Helpfully we were assisted in choosing a couple of half portions of starters and then the reason we were there, a whole grilled turbot to share.

We started with Hake Kokotxas three ways, grilled, fried and with green sauce. These were good. They have quite an interesting gelatinous texture and a good clean fish taste. This was my first try of kokotxas and I would definitely order them again. We were served four each.

Elkano kokotxas.jpg

Next came baked spider crab. This was a simple but very delicious preparation. Take some delicious bread, pile some hot crab on and eat. Perfect.

Elkano Crab.jpg

The main event was the turbot. This particular one was a little over 1.5 kilos. It was more or less perfect. After we had eaten the fillets we were given the option of having the head, ventresca and remaining good bits recovered for us and an explanation of what we were eating. The head yielded cheeks, throat and more delicious gelatinous goo. We were then encouraged to eat the chest / belly and remaining flesh with our fingers. It was surprising just how much more delicious eating was to be had from what looked like, and usually is waste when I grill a turbot at home. There was no garnish of any kind and it was all the better for it. As perfect a piece of fish as you could hope for.

Elkano Turbot.jpg

I was a little concerned that the bill would be €€€’s but the starters were charged as half portions and worked out at about €17. Given that we shared both the kokotxas and the crab and there was plenty (both plated separately), this was a bargain.

We passed on dessert. Those that we saw looked good though.

The wine list had plenty of bargains too. We drank Egly-Ouriet for €40something. Kripta was around €40 too. There is a place near to home that sells Kripta for £79.95. There are plenty of bargains to be had on the wine front. Really excellent.

Edited by MaLO (log)


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Restaurante Alameda is in Hondarribia. We got there by bus from San Sebastian. It took about 40 minutes and costs less than €5.00 return. I picked Alameda because Akalare and Mugaritz were shut, Arzak is in the midst of opening in London and I was struggling to justify the €500+ bill at Martin Berastegui.

Hondarribia is an interesting looking small town to the north of San Sebastian heading towards the French border. There is a 10th century Parador that would be a good place to stay for a couple of nights exploring the bars and restaurants in town.

On arrival we were offered our choice of tables as there was only one other taken at two pm. Over the course of lunch another four or five tables were filled making for a nice relaxed atmosphere, busy enough to occupy the staff but not so busy to be stretched.

For lunch we opted for the largest tasting menu with wine pairing.

First course was a plump oyster of Aranchon with cauliflower cream, seaweed and citrus. This was really tasty and fresh, a little crisp apple to offset the plump oyster and a light briny, citrusy sauce to help things along.

Oyster of Aranchon, Cauliflower cream, Seaweed, Citrus.jpg

Crispy blood pudding, hazelnuts, truffle cabbage and baked apple was the second course. I like black pudding in all of its guises and I liked this. Soft rich pudding came with a bit of crunchy texture, sweet apple then earthy truffled cabbage.

Crispy blood pudding, Hazelnut, Truffle cabbage, Baked apple.jpg

Scallops ravioli hinted towards Asian techniques in so much as the ravioli was more like an Asian dumpling than Italian pasta. The filling was a tasty mixture of chopped scallops and herbs and the chestnut soup was light and without any of the powdery, floury consistency chestnut soups and purees can sometimes have.

Scallops ravioli with sweet chestnut soup and artichoke.jpg

“Butakaku” Iberian pork with green apple. This was quite an interesting plateful. I think it was described as Japanese in cooking style. It was a long cooked pork jowl; about 60:40 fat to meat so very rich. The fat and flesh was cooked until it was spectacularly delicate and then finished with a rich glaze. If anything it was a little too rich altogether. The acidic apple element did lighten the dish overall but I think I would have preferred the fat to meat ratio to have been reversed. Still good though.

Butakaku Iberian pork with green apple.jpg

Fish of the day was Sea bass. This was the best piece of bass I have eaten. It was a very fresh, thick lump of exceptionally tasty fish, cooked just through. The Seaweed citrus broth was another slightly Asian touch in its gelatinous texture. An affection for gelatinous textures is common in Basque cuisine too so it may well be that it is classically Basque. I enjoyed this a lot.

Sea bass, seaweed and citrus sweet broth.jpg


Final savoury course was roast pigeon with black chilli sauce. I have eaten quite a bit of pigeon over the last year and this was as good as any of the others. The offal parfait was quite a distinct and strong flavour but the chutney took the sharp, irony edges off this quite well. The legs and breast were good, well flavoured and cooked nicely. The mole was a little more subtle than it might have been in an ideal world although I suppose big, punchy chilli flavours might have been a bit of a shock.

Pigeon roasted with black chilli sauce.jpg

First dessert was olive oil ravioli with red fruits. It was light and fruity and a good option after the savoury courses.

Olive oil ravioli with red fruits.jpg

Final dessert was a smoked sheeps milk ice cream with bitter orange and crumble. It has to be said that this was not the most elaborate dessert I have encountered. It was however, delicious.

Smoked sheeps milk, bitter otange and crumble.jpg

To finish we had a selection of petits fours.

Petits fours.jpg

The wine pairing was good. We went through five whites, one red and a dessert wine. I didn’t make any notes about particular producers etc but each wine was well paired with the food and was a decent pour too. There was also an amuse and good bread too.

Service was very good, friendly and multi-lingual. I really enjoyed lunch here. I may have enjoyed one of the 3* places more but two people were very well fed with a selection of good wine for the price of one in one of the 3* places. Well worth consideration if you are in San Sebastian.


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Thanks for your reports, MaLO. We went to Arzak a couple of years ago and very much enjoyed it, but it's great to see others in the area we'd probably enjoy just as much. Alameda looks really good. Their presentation is beautiful - very similar to what you'd expect at Arzak.

We liked the feel of San Sebastian itself and would like to spend more time there. We'd hoped to stay in the Hondarribia parador that time but it was full, unfortunately.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
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