Martin Berasategui v Akelare
If you had to choose: which one?
I find myself in this position. At one point I weighed doing Akelare for lunch and MB for dinner. But I suspect thats overkill and I wouldn't enjoy MB because we'd be too stuffed from Akelare.
The other option is to put MB for dinner after our lunch at Extebarri. And do lunch at Akelare the next day. But once again, probably overkill.
So I think one of them will have to be abandoned. So which would you pick to keep? Akelare or MB?
Akelare for me. My #2 all-time. MB didn't make my top 10. Did lunch at both.
One 'intangible' is the view from Akelare - superb!
Estufarian is my Sensei. I have taken his advice many times and it has been good. I would follow him to the last restaurant on Earth -- especially if he was paying for it :-P
Dining is really a very personal thing too. If you're not sure, compare the menus of each. Get an idea of their philosophies and styles. Read a few detailed blogs, like Frodnesor's.
Now THAT is a tough choice.
Both were spectacular, IMO.
If it were me and I had only one night in SanSe and go to only one of those 2 choices I would toss a coin and let the fates decide.
My main incentive for MB is that it is ranked in the top 50 of the world. Akelare is just outside that ranking.
I am however leaning to Akelare because of all the praise it has gotten on Chowhound.
I think a big factor for me will be this: does MB actually cook in his own kitchen. I know that Pedro Subijana is at Akelare. But I've read that MB is kind of a "celebrity chef" who has many restaurants. Does he no longer work in the kitchen like Ducasse or Thomas Keller? Or is he actually there everyday like Grant Achatz or Aduriz at Mugaritz?
MB was definitely there the day I went (as was Pedro Subijana). Irony is that Aduriz WASN'T at Mugaritz.
As Aleta says - take a look at the menus before deciding - my preferences are more 'molecular' - definitely there at Akelare, but doesn't dominate.
At MB I found more 'repetition' of styles - many dishes contained smoked ingredients and he seemed to be on a 'gel' kick (even the salad was a 'jellied salad') - so I didn't get as much variety.
Honestly, I don't think you will 'lose' whatever you choose. But on my next trip I will DEFINITELY return to both Akelare and Mugaritz, and skip both MB and Arzak to try something 'new'.
And just an aside: That 'Top 50' has various rules that affect positioning. New entrants will tend to soar as many more people try them (e.g. Noma). Others will tend to fall if they are booked solid, or people went 'last year' as they have a requirement for the participants to have actually eaten there (in the previous 18 months I recall). So, as an extreme, a restaurant 'booked solid for 18 months' could receive zero votes if the judges couldn't actually get in to eat there! Recall that Etxeberri made the top 50 without even being mentioned in Michelin EVER - in fact Axpe wasn't mentioned either! A few well-placed influential blog reviews can spread like wildfire - although if a place doesn't deliver the goods it will drop precipitously. I'll be discreet and not give examples of places that have plunged out of the so-called top 50. Anybody want to bet that next year has a bunch of other Copenhagen Restaurants that, deservedly, have now attracted attention as the pilgrims go to Noma.
I agree. I think give Noma's #1 spot and the recent Bocuse D'or. There will be new Danish restaurants on the list.
I'm leaning heavily to Akelare.
Would I be right in assuming that eating at MB for dinner after lunch at Extebarri would be a bad idea, and I'd be too stuffed to enjoy MB?
I want to avoid that situation.
Your turnaround time between midday meal and evening meal is about 5 hours. Assuming you keep Spanish dining hours, your lunch at Extebarri will end around 4 and even later and you have a 9pm reservation at MB. Unless you are a sumo wrestler, YES, you will be too stuffed to enjoy MB. Plus who wants to be seating on ones ass for 7 hours a day cramp inside having to be on ones best behavior. Of course, you can to go MB and just order just one course plus dessert if you must hit all the three stars in the Basque on one trip. If this is your first trip to the Spanish Basque, eat pintxos at least a few times. This is a special place for them.