Has anyone here been to Azermundi? Newest of the 3-stars, and closer to BIlbao, which I am flying into on the way to San Sebastian.
Trying to pick a lunch between Mugaritz, Akelarre and Azermundi. I've read some much about hits and misses with Mugaritz I'm leaning toward one of the latter two, but there's relatively little written about Azermundi so it'd be great to get some perspective from someone who has been there anytime recently. Thanks!
I guess you mean Azurmendi, Eneko Atxa's restaurant that recently earned its 3rd star.
I'm always wondering why it hardly ever gets mentioned on here, especially now with being one of the "chosen few".
We had our last meal there before flying out of Bilbao in October 2011, after a week-long culinary trip through the Basque Country.
We had eaten at Etxanobe (Bilbao), Etxebarri, Martin Berasategui, Mugaritz and Arzak before (Akelarre was unfortunately closed for vacation) and although each of us had a favorite amongst the others, Azurmendi was the one all three of us really agreed on and liked.
Obviously it's 1.5 years ago, but they earned their 3rd star since...
I have a set of photos of our lunch on Flickr, have a look if you want:
The restaurant is also very conveniently located right next to the highway.
Another option would be lunch at Etxebarri since it is between Bilbao and San Sebastian....
I haven't been (explanation coming up) but Andy Hayler has reviewed it in his Restaurant Guide (www.andyhayler.com).
I have bumped into Andy in the past, and enjoy his reviews.
BUT (and a VERY BIG BUT), his tastes and mine are so different that I (jokingly?) refer to his scores as a list of places to avoid. He and I scored the same restaurant, same day, same meal, entirely differently (he gave a very low score; I had it in my Top 10).
He gives Azurmendi 20/20. He gives Mugaritz 14/20 and Akelarre 17/20.
So check his detailed reviews and you will be able to determine whether your tastes and his coincide.
I agree about Andy, I like his reviews and I like that he isn't a trend driven blogger or worried about being the first person through the door. But like you I am not always 100% aligned with his taste in all areas (I don't think I am with any reviewer).
That said his review of Azurmendi is so stellar it would be churlish not to give it a go and some of the dishes he described sound wonderful.
I am booked for for early September. I will report back.
Yeah, I have to say I am swayed by his review of Azurmendi, which is what actually prompted me to look into the restaurant in the first place. That, and the fact that I will be flying into Bilbao that morning and visiting the Guggenheim makes it a much closer option for lunch, versus the SS restaurants, which are over an hour drive away. Etxebarri would have been perfect too but it's booked up for a private event the day I get into Bilbao, so I'll have to go back a different day.
My current thought is:
Thursday - arrive Bilbao at 10am, pick up rental car, visit Guggenheim for a couple of hours, and then head to Azurmendi for lunch, before driving to SS and checking in hotel.
Friday - lunch at Akelarre. I still have a lunch at Mugaritz and a dinner at Arzak booked for that day, but I think 2 large meals a day is too many, and from the overall reviews I've been reading it seems like Akelarre has the slight edge over the other two place.
Saturday - drive to Etxebarri for lunch.
Sunday - drive back to Bilbao and fly home to NYC.
With all these long meals, I'm not sure how much free time I'm going to have in SS, but what are some good things to do there (besides eating pintxos at night)?
And, is a polo t-shirt or button down and jeans/khakis going to be fine dress code for all these places during lunch?
Since Etxebarri is booked up for the day you arrive I think Azurmendi is a great choice. Like I mentioned in my earlier post I was really impressed with the restaurant 1.5 years ago. Definitely some modern "twists" but not as out there as Mugaritz.
We actually enjoyed every course whereas at Mugaritz there was a few that just left us puzzled - as mentioned so many times here on the boards before.
Just as a thought, and I know this is a food forum, we loved the architecture of the Guggenheim but were not that impressed with the art inside, so if you have any time left walk over to the "Museo de Bellas Artes" which has some amazing artworks...it's only about 5-10 minutes walk from the Guggenheim.
As mentioned before Azurmendi is right next to the highway, so driving on to SS will be easy after lunch.
We actually had lunch there coming back from SS on our way to catch a late-afternoon flight out of Bilbao.
I definitely agree that having a big dinner after Azurmendi for lunch would be way too much, we had one big lunch or dinner every day and were pretty "exhausted" after 7 days. Getting into SS you'll have plenty of time in the evening to explore the old town and try out several of the pintxos places, which I think is an absolute must...
I wish I could have tried out Akelarre, it's still on my list after having missed out twice (first time they were on vacation, second time I got sick and had to cut my trip short).
I'd probably do lunch at Akelarre and then pintxos again in the evening, but that's just my opinion ;-)
One more thing, you're mentioning that you'll have lunch at Etxebarri on Saturday...are you planning on driving back to SS after that?!
If you are flying out of Bilbao the next day I don't think it's worth driving back there as Etxebari is a lot closer to Bilbao than SS.
We got to Etxebarri around 13:30 pm and did not leave until about 6:30 pm.
We stayed in an awesome castle hotel about 45 minutes from Bilbao and maybe 35 minutes from Etxebarri, here is the link:
Definitely one of the best places I've ever stayed in...
As for stuff to do in SS, we walked around the old town, went to the beach, hiked up the mountain next to the old town (Monte Urgull - great views!) and then took the little train up the mountain across the bay (Monte Igueldo), so there is plenty of stuff to do even if you only have a few hours...
Hope you have fun & lots of great food, apart from Barcelona SS is the 2nd city I'd go back to in a heartbeat...