With the London restaurant scene as packed as it is, all too often it seems restaurants within hotels can get overlooked, which is a shame as some there are some real gems. One such restaurant is Ametsa with Arzak Instruction at The Halkin, which serves up New Basque cuisine and is headed up by Executive Chef Sergi Sanz, with guidance from Elena Arzak and her father. If her name sounds familiar then it’s because her family run the 3 Michelin star Arzak restaurant out in San Sebastian, Spain, which you’re bound to have heard of.
Although designed by the London – based Ab Rogers Design, the interior is inspired by the raw aesthetic of Arzak, the ceiling is covered in 7000 glass receptacles filled with different spices – it’s quite a spectacle to behold and provides a striking contrast to the simple white walls.
For those who don’t know, new Basque cuisine is inspired by the earthy flavours and techniques of Spain’s Basque region, so expect lots of fish and seafood and when deciding what to choose at then I would definitely go for the tasting menu – it’s a real chance to experience Sergi Sanz’s (the Executive Head Chef) passion for experimenting with different flavours and textures, it’s all rather Heston and since Ametsa won a Michelin star within the first 6 months of opening, you know you’re onto something good .
The menu is adventurous both in ingredients and presentation, and after a run of meals which were all just variations of each other, this ended the monotony, and relighted that feeling you get when you’re genuinely excited to eat something. So expect to find the likes of parsley meringue with duck and crisp, crunchy sunflower seed crackers sandwiching slightly rough black pudding – both of which were delicious. You’re also onto a winner if the cod truffle is on the menu. Other highlights included langoustine served on lichens and egg with Chistorra (a fast-cured sausage from Aragon in the Basque region) and crumbs.
It was pudding that really showed originality though, a bowl of Mead Fractal, a clear syrup which they poured a red fruit liquid into, which mysteriously swirled and marbled, this was served with shortbread and chocolate crumbs and milk chocolates which hid pockets of Cointreau. It wasn’t the easiest to eat, nor was it the most substantial, but you know what it’s quality over quantity and it’s nice to leave a meal knowing that you’re still going to fit into your clothes the next day.
If you’re looking to impress or just want something a little out of the ordinary, then you can’t afford to miss Ametsa.