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Feb 27, 2008 05:42 AM

Basque: Akelarre, Mugaritz, Etxebarri and Arzak

We can only do 3 out of the 4 in mid-March. We are leaning on Akelarre for a lunch, Mugaritz for a dinner and Etxebarri for either lunch or dinner. The plans are pending confirmation of our reservations requests.

I perused the online information and I think that prix fixe is the norm in these retaurants. Is that true? If not, is there anything specific that we shouldn't miss out on?

Thank you.

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  1. A solid selection. Yes the tasting menu's (is that what you meant by fixed price?) are great and worth asking for a matched wine selection. We were at Mugaritz last year for lunch and the wine airings were very good and reasonable. I think Extebarri only does lunch most days, maybe dinner at weekends. Recent posts indicate Mugaritz is on top form so maybe be left for last.

    1. You have a great list. Just the 3 I would have chosen.

      I would do Akelarre for lunch (for the views), then Etxebarri for lunch (easier to find your way down to tiny Axpe and back in the daylight hours) and for your final blow out dinner, end with Mugaritz, saving the best until last.

      At Akelarre and Mugaritz we have ordered the degustation, tasting menu. At Akelarre we ordered one of each of two different menus and thus sampled from both. At Etxeberri I would have the chef prepare a tasting menu for you rather than do the 50 euro menú del día. I believe the '08 tasting menu at Akelarre runs 130 this year and at Mugaritz the larger Naturan menu is priced the same; the shorter Sustraiak costs 89, according to my '08 Gourmetour.

      1. I have been to Arzak and Akelare, but not the others. We also had the two different tasting menus at Akelare, and it was just wonderful. Arzak is not as cutting-edge, molecular as Akelare, but the food was still excellent and very creative. We hesitated to order the tasting because it did not include some dishes on the a la carte menu that looked more interesting to us, so the maitre'd allowed us to make substitutions and add extra courses without additional charge, which I thought was extremely accommodating. We were very impresssed with both restaurants. The one dish that stands out in my mind over all others was the pickled tuna at Akelare. Amazing. Please be sure to report back after your trip.

        1. Hi I'm planning to be in the San Sebastian area in late Sept. Does anyone know when Akelarre is planning to have their annual fall closure? Is this common for the other Michelin star restaurants in the area?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Apprentice

            Akelare has its annual fall closure the first half of October.


            1. re: Apprentice

              Arzak closes in late June to July so you should be safe. I wasn't very impressed with Arzak, least of all with Juan Maria who kept avoiding our table because he didn't want to speak English to a bunch of Asians.
              All of us were much happier with our meal at Akelarre, and the view was just awesome.

              1. re: Peech

                Thanks. That's sad to hear. I ended up speaking to someone at Akelarre and it doesn't look like they will be open when I'm there, which is really disappointing. I'm definitely going to Mugaritz and probably Martin Berasategui.

                1. re: Apprentice

                  Am sad to read about the above post's experience at Arzak. I eaten at Juan Mari and Elena's restaurant numerous times and have never received less than the most warm and cordial treatment. In fact, I think it is most down to earth and friendly Michelin 3 star in Spain. The food has had it's ups and down in the last few years, especially when Elena first took over the kitchen. My last couple of meals there have been excellent though not as good as one I had last November at Akelarre. I have not been impressed with my two meals at Martin Berasategui nor am I am big fan of Mugaritz which I have not been recently. Am interested in your experiences with them as I am consider giving Mugaritz another try later this year.
                  Arzak is also closed from the end of October/early November for a month.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    It appears that Akelarre never seems to disappoint! I'm getting more and more saddened that I will likely be there during their closure.

            2. Fagollaga is a great restaurant as well. A little difficult to find, but worth it. Try the Panceta Iberica, con Leche de Almendra Tierna - it is divine!
              Definitely go to the Etxebarri for lunch, Sunday afternoon is best.