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Jan 24, 2014 07:01 AM

Has anyone had a great meal at Arzak recently? Any review of Kokotxa?

I'm heading to San Sebastian in a few weeks and we got reservations at Arzak. We tried to get into Akelarre and Mugaritz but they were fully booked already. However, I've read a few recent reviews of Arzak both here and on food blogs and the reviews have not been that great. Everyone talks about how friendly Elena is, how pretty the food is, but then there seems to be disappointment in the taste of about half of the courses. I'm wondering if anyone here has had a great meal there recently to counter the so-so reviews, or is the restaurant just past its prime? I'd hate to spend 190 euros before wine and not be amazed

On another note, has anyone tried one-star restaurant Kokotka? I don't see many reviews online. Is it worth trying for lunch or dinner?

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  1. On our trip to San Sebastian last August, we liked Arzak and Martin Berasatagui more than Akelarre and Mugaritz. We really enjoyed a more casual dinner at Rekondo.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Charles Nixon

      Thanks for the Rekondo recommendation. I will look into it as well. Glad to hear you liked Arzak. I was getting worried reading several reviews from the past few months

        1. re: misochi

          We had a wonderful meal at Arzak and Juan Mari came up to everyone's table to say hello, take pictures and even met us at the door to give us a kiss on the cheek when we left.
          We did the tasting menu
          It started with 5 amuse bouches -- scorpion fish mousse with katafi (like a shredded wheat cone with a silky mousse inside), mushroom stuffed with nuts and citrus, beans with olive and apple, a 'gilda' but instead of pickled peppers it was pickled baby carrots with dried anchovy, and a crushed tonic can that had chorizo and mango in a tonic sauce
          There were a few choices of courses but since we were two, we had one of each and shared them
          The first course was a foie gras course - either a manioc pastry stuffed with huitlacoche, green tea and foie gras. Or slices of apple injected with beetroot and wrapped around foie gras and potato -- both were delicious but the pastry was hard to eat. I prefered the simplicity of the apple
          The second course was shellfish - Volcanic oysters which were warm oysters and vegetables served on a black salt plate. Or the Lobster Sea and Garden which started with a tablet playing a video with waves crashing, then a glass plate was placed on top with lobster and vegetables. Both were delicious but I think the lobster was better because of the experience
          The third course was called Ovo-Lacto and was a perfectly soft boiled egg in a crunchy shell (like a scotch egg) accompanied by lactic leaves which were milk crisps that melted in your mouth.
          The fourth course was the fish course, again two options - Monk fish green witch was was perfectly cooked monkfish served in a crunchy green 'baloon' which didn't have much flavour. It was visually pretty but the baloon itself didn't add any flavor. The other was a grilled seabass marinated in gin served with 'potatoes' which looked like cellophane and came in different colors - one tasted of pure potato, one was with truffle and I forget what the third was. This was also served on top of a tablet showing waves crashing on the shore. The fish was delicious. It was really a toss up because both fish were perfectly cooked and fresh.
          The fifth course was meat - we had a medium rare wild duck breast with various seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) and fruits. The other was a deer and a roe deer tenderloin - cylinders of each. The deer was rich and gamy, the roe deer was subtle and delicious. My friend who doesn't normally like venison loved the roe deer. It was served with a roasted Jerusalem artichoke and fried chestnuts but an odd yogurt with plaster (I don't know if I understood correctly) that was served on the side and didn't add much
          Then we had 4 different desserts - the big truffle which was rich chocolate with chocolate filling. A circus dent with chocolate, delicious carrot ice cream. Chokeberries with a fresh cream cheese and pear. And a golden footprint, licorice filled 'ladybirds' filled with yogurt.
          Because we were spending all of our money on the food we did not have a big budget for wine (this was a splurge since I'm unemployed) so we had a nice Pazo de Senorans Secleccion Anada 2006 Albarino to drink.
          Overall the meal was delicious and a lot of fun, not stuffy. It was not too experimental - it was just delicious and perfectly cooked and wasn't trying to shock or create strange combinations. I really enjoyed it

    2. I ate at Kojua a few years ago. Might be a good counterpoint, as the food is much more traditional than the others you mention. For seafood lovers, as you know, although they also have a good range of meat.

      I remember it as a solid restaurant representing a good price/value ratio, with the luxury mariscos commanding higher, but fair, prices. (Top flight seafood in Spain is not inexpensive, in my experience)

      We went for lunch. I would certainly go again, including it as part of the broad spectrum of cuisine available in SS. In a small way, it reminded me of Casa Rafa in the capital, although decor is more nautical/rustic here. Of course you will get the hake cheeks.

      Menu with prices:

      I hope someone chimes in with more recent info...

      1. Did you ever try Kokotxa? I haven't seen many reviews on here. I just booked it for dinner in June and want to make sure it's worth it. Anyone else?