Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
tony h

Martin Berasategui - 2003

Recommended Posts

Martin Berasategui

A hellish taxi ride eventually turned off & passed though what looked like a housing estate. The entrance up the restaurant is quite inviting masking wonderfully the horrors that lay beyond. The room was BRIGHT – highly reflective white ceiling, bright moss green walls and yellow & orange tiled floor. The tables were stark – just a napkin & single glass per setting and made you fell that they’d forgotten you’d arrived. The seat looked very uncomfortable – solid wooden affairs and for moment one I thought I don’t fancy sitting in those for the next couple of hours. The tables separated by what I can only describe as rusty metal garden trellising draped in what must be a rare gift – making real plants look plastic.

Our menus arrived but precious little else for the next 30 minutes – no bread, water, starters, nothing.

The menu took an age to navigate but eventually we settled on the tasting menu but asked for the pigeon to be substituted. Printed English version of our menu with substitutions that we could take home and treasure arrived.

Pre-starters

Small cup of beetroot cream soup with cockle & white wine jelly – beetroot crisp. I liked the crisp but the veloute lacked depth or length.

Creamy fried potatoes – forgettable balls of mashed potatoes deep fried

Clam with olive oil – served in a spoon – this was elegant, creamy and tasty – lots of garlic.

Smoked eel, foie gras and green apple terrine

This was beautifully presented with a light brulee topping and spring onion reduction – the eel (salty but not too fishy) was balanced will with the foie gras and the apple had the right amount of acidity. A good start.

Butter Salted Peas with Barnacles

A little pile of tiniest peas with some barnacles placed on top – soup poured over the top.

There was a nice depth to the soup but the barnacles were tasteless – just a bit of exotica.

A nice but so-what dish (so very different & lacking from the astonishing pea soup served in Sketch)

Scallops & Crayfish – set in gelatine

Six thin slices of scallop in a layer with and a single crayfish and salmon eggs set in gelatine made from the scallop coral. Little bits of chive were suspended in the gelatine.

It was Ok – the gelatine had a nice long finish but the scallops were slightly tasteless.

Vegetable Heart Salad

Sounded so dull – but this was the star of the meal – the first and sadly only wow of the evening

Square flat & shallow plate with carpaccio of fennel at each corner surrounded by slithers of courgette ribbons, asparagus spears perfectly crisply cooked, mini-artichokes, broad beans, the seeded insides of tomatoes in little bindles, raw almonds with some smoked mackerel, mussels covered in cream of mussel reduction and a few crayfish tails here and there.

This was wonderfully and prettily arranged but held together with a superb light aspic. Seriously good and refreshing.

Seafood Broth

Cup of dry ingredients over which was poured a strong anise flavoured stock. The cream had partially split from the stock. More barnacles. Fairly tasteless expect for the anise – which I am not too fond of.

The was accompanied with a fennel sorbet on a spoon - that was quite refreshing

Anchovies & Onions

Layers of sautéed onions and potatoes with a very large anchovy on top served with red pepper reduction.

It wasn’t just the bitterness of the pepper reduction – but they had managed to capture the essence of concentrated corked wine - there was great evil in this dish. One bit was followed by substantial mouthfuls of water – I was too polite to spit the food out.

I don’t have any notes for the rest of the meal – the next one was roast tuna which was too over cooked to enjoy. Fairly tasteless. The next was stuffed pigs trotters – my pigeon substitution. I almost threw up on site of it – a large vibrating mass of near liquid gelatine. Not what I was expecting at all – I suppose if you liked that kind of thing you’d have loved this but it was a bit too extreme for me. My partner had the broiled beef which tasted OK – but nothing special.

The desserts were also pretty forgettable – one thing they served was described as “pineapple infusion” – tasted like tinned pineapple we were forced to eat as a kid.

So – what was wrong – why did we hate this so much?

One of the basic requirements of any restaurant at this level regardless of how formal or casual they want to be is that they need to be welcoming. This was such an unfriendly place – not one single person smiled. At one we joked that we were being served by the “dementors” with the enjoyment was being sucked out of us slowly during the meal.

The food – there was only one dish that truly said you were in a seriously good restaurant & that was the salad the only really difficult part being the aspic – as for the rest some were fine but hardly worthy of note. And some were evil and badly executed – particularly towards the end of the meal. The pigs trotter was probably good but by then I’d lost faith in the kitchen.

Anyway – enough. If you’re in the area there are so many other places to eat I’d say put this at the bottom of your list – but if you do come – don’t leave it the last meal of your holiday as we did – it left a bitter taste. Quite missable.

Reviews from Arzak, Akelare & Con Fabes to follow – much, much better (mostly)

Details

Martin Berasategui

Calle Loidi, 4

E-20160 Lasarte-Oria

Spain

Tel. (34) 943 36 64 71

Fax (34) 943 36 61 07

http://www.martinberasategui.com/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BLH, this is another fine write-up. You caught some details very well and with wit. I look forward to the rest of your reports.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Martin Berasategui

cockle & white wine jelly

Scallops & Crayfish – set in gelatine

Vegetable Heart Salad held together with a superb light aspic.

pigs trotters –  a large vibrating mass of near liquid gelatine.

But are you saying that the service didn't really gel?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry about that i am on the anchovy salad . infact thats all i have done for four weeks. and the dish has changed three times. i am eating on wednesday i will see from the other side of the hot plate. really looking forward to it.................. :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sorry about that i am on the anchovy salad . infact thats all i have done for four weeks.

Trust me - this would have been an awful lot better if the staff were allowed to smile.

By the way - the man himself appeared in the restaurant. I have never encountered someone with such little presence before. What he like in the kitchen – bossy, push over, git?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the last one

Does 'git' = jerk?

yeah - but more pathetic

It's a Britishism, right? I had to look it up in the dictionary, they say foolish or worthless person. I kind of knew it from context, I believe from Nick Hornby books.

It's always too bad to hear that about a chef that has risen to the top.


Edited by fredbram (log)

Fred Bramhall

A professor is one who talk's in someone else's sleep

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a Britishism, right? I had to look it up in the dictionary

Yes. We have a large number of members who speak that weird and somewhat insular dialect of English called "British." :laugh:


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the last one

Does 'git' = jerk?

yeah - but more pathetic

It's a Britishism, right? I had to look it up in the dictionary, they say foolish or worthless person. I kind of knew it from context, I believe from Nick Hornby books.

It's always too bad to hear that about a chef that has risen to the top.

What does Martin Berasategui's personality have to do with his food?

I don't like to hear a stagier calling his mentor a 'git'. Especially since the stagier will no doubt return home and cook Chef's dishes and use Chef's name as a significant career building block.

Why should he be expected to have 'presence'?

To expect a chef to have presence is more to do with an excess of viewing Food TV programmes than anything he might be capable of in the kitchen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oddly enough, the chef I work for had a copy of MB's menu on the table yesterday, so I perused it. The "English" version was a riot of mis-spellings, bad grammar and incorrect punctuation, the funniest of which was the "Scallop with sauce made from his choral".


Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Oddly enough, the chef I work for had a copy of MB's menu on the table yesterday, so I perused it. The "English" version was a riot of mis-spellings, bad grammar and incorrect punctuation, the funniest of which was the "Scallop with sauce made from his choral".

You think that's bad? From the top of the menu he has:

"My aperitifs vary depending on the whims of the countryside, the sea and the seasons. I propose that you all allow me to seduce you in small bitefuls. Seductive, light and suculent, they will wet your appetite and be the introduction to a magnificent meal"

Its up there with Christopher Lee/Sauraman saying "you will taste manflesh tonight!"

PS - the typos could very well be mine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a Britishism, right? I had to look it up in the dictionary

Yes. We have a large number of members who speak that weird and somewhat insular dialect of English called "British." :laugh:

I've spent a considerable amount of time in England, I just wanted a breakdown of the phrase in context to the chef.

I could understand him being thought of as a jerk for yelling, whatever, but, am suprised that he seems a bit underwhelming as a chef. That's kind of sad, isn't it?

Cheers


2317/5000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... a jerk for yelling, whatever, but, am suprised that he seems a bit underwhelming as a chef. That's kind of sad, isn't it?

git = sad jerk

I like it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

lml

sorry if you think I am being offensive to my mentor. I have undoubtly learned a lot from working here and, yes, some items will be adapted to my own style, but at the end of the day, I don't see you here and I could quite honestly say that if you were, git would only be the start of the name calling. Only having fun, lighten up. ginger (git) chef.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's very unfortunate that a genuinely nice and dedicated guy like Martín, whatever his restaurant's current shortcomings, comes out as a "sad jerk" here. Despite that latest disclaimer by gingerchef, I think all of his comments here as a stagiaire at MB have been thoroughly disparaging, to the point of caricature. And I have to wonder if he has some specific axe to grind... It's really amazing how everything can be so completely foul in the kitchen of a three-star restaurant!


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And I have to wonder if he has some specific axe to grind... It's really amazing how everything can be so completely foul in the kitchen of a three-star restaurant!

Why shouldn't the atmostphere be foul? Maybe that is what caused BLH meal to be so disappointing? Bad atmostphere - Bad tempered chefs - Bad food. This seems like a pretty logical circular chain of events to me.


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's really amazing how everything can be so completely foul in the kitchen of a three-star restaurant!

I wonder if it is possible to seperate a chef from his cooking;

After all Joel Robuchon, culinary demigod, inspired chef and teacher but by all accounts a very hard taskmaster (cf Gordon Ramsay's tales of getting a plate of langoustine ravioli chucked in his face when he did it wrong, although he doesn't say who by). I'm sure there are stagiares in his kitchen who would have called him tough bastard, tough git, but still taken a great deal away.

Again Marco Pierre White, culinary demigod, inspired chef, who ran the self proclaimed "SAS of kitchens" at Harveys in the 80's. He could also probably be a tough git to work for too, at times...

Yes life can be tough in *** kitchens (sometimes one of the reasons why they got there!), but I think someone can be a great chef, a fantastic mentor and a tough git at the same time!

cheerio

J


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of Martin, the person, I have only heard the most flattering comments from those I know who have met him here in New York and in Lasarte. I don't know if it's been mentioned here or not, but have either girlcook or ginger chef worked in other restaurants, particularly in starred restaurants, in France or Spain? With the possible exception of a few French restaurants in NYC I don't think life in a restaurant in the US has much resemblance to that on the continent. Unfortunately I rely on very few stories to make that assumption, but it seems to me that I've heard stories of apprenticeships in France that would be seen as intolerable in the US. I seem to recall some discussion about the difference between Martin Berasategui and Can Fabes, but forget who made the distinctions.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, life can be pretty hellish for stagiaires at MB - I wrote about that already. No question. But that's not my point. My beef is with an inkling of character assassination of MB himself, which I think is blatantly unfair.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Despite that latest disclaimer by gingerchef, I think all of his comments here as a stagiaire at MB have been thoroughly disparaging, to the point of caricature. And I have to wonder if he has some specific axe to grind... It's really amazing how everything can be so completely foul in the kitchen of a three-star restaurant!

Sometimes thing's aren't quite what they seem.

I've worked at some pretty notable place's that turned out a bit disappointing.

I've also not read any particularly disparaging remarks by ginger chef.

A git doesn't = say, c-nt, right?


2317/5000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely if life can be hellish for a Stagiaire at any restaurant it isn't unreasonable to for the Stagiaire to think of the chef as something a little stronger than "git"? This doesn't reflect on what he thinks of him as a chef, only on his attitude in the kitchen which has subsequently been described as "hellish"


"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, life is hellish because accommodations and food are precarious and work is strenuous. But no stagiaire I know has complained about Martín's attitude.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...