Over and over again the Basque kitchen has been praised as being one of the best in the world and we totally agree – it is indeed one of the gastronomic wonders. There are many very good restaurants in San Sebastian and its surroundings and the most hyped are the so-called MAMA restaurants – Mugaritz, Arzak, Martin Berasategui and Akelare.
Many people make reservations at all of them during their stay in San Sebastian, but that can be a bit overwhelming we dare say. And it is not really necessary because only two of the MAMA restaurants deserve the reputation they have got today as almost mythical institutions. Arzak with its warm & friendly atmosphere and with servings to die for and Mugaritz with fused ingredients and innovation that will occupy your mind for weeks after your visit are both worth booking over and over again, but Martin Berasategui and especially Akelare are not on the same amazing level.
Akelare opened in 1974 and the restaurant is known for its local seafood. Chef Patron Pedro Subijana is for many almost considered as a local godfather and his restaurant an institution for food lovers all around the world.
The Basque Country has some of the most hardcore food cultures on the planet with an atmosphere that feels like every single citizen thinks food 24/7. Pedro Subijana is recognised as one of the best chefs in the whole region, however with servings with too much confusion going on and extreme tastes and in some cases a depressed feeling and a restaurant atmosphere with an uninspired staff and a dated look. One of the restaurant’s strengths is its breathtaking sea view, so go on a lunch if you like to enjoy the outside viewings because it is dark in the evening and you will not see the sea view.
Of course every restaurant has its bad days, but a top restaurant is expected to have a high lowest level as well on every serving whichever time of the year. We have been to Akelare on several occasions, but some visits have ended in disappointments so we really hope that Pedro Subijana will look over both his menu that today offers too much experimenting with different techniques, as well as a serious consideration of a complete renovation of the actual dining room. It should not feel like you enter the 1980’s when you go to a restaurant of this magnitude.
Pedro Subijana won the 1983 National Prize of Gastronomy as the best chef in Spain and his preparations have influenced a generation of chefs and defined the entire philosophy of modern Basque cuisine, but that was a long time ago and maybe chef Subijana has just become too comfortable over the last years? We say back to the roots again and give us the magic that built Akelare and its reputation. Give us the true la nueva cocina vasca again that Pedro Subijana was one of the inventors of.
Written by Andy