Location: Paseo Padre Orcolaga, 56, 20008 Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Date: June 16, 2016
Cuisine: Modern Spanish Gastronomic (Michelin 3 star!)
Rating: Amazing. Playful and delicious
Akelaŕe is the first of the “big guns” in our dining schedule.
No drama here.
The view from our table most decidedly set expectations.
Akelaŕe currently offers three different tasting menus, two current and one more of a “best of” from the restaurant’s long history (it’s the same age as me, having been founded in 1970 and climbed from 1 star in ’78 to 2 in ’82 to 3 in ’07).
This “dish” served as an amuse for our 7 year-old son. It wins hands down for presentation. Sort of “bathroom” themed it consists of a number of playful items. A toast in which the “liquid soap” is used as a condiment. A cheese dish disguised as face cream, and a Shirley Temple in a cough syrup bottle! Great fun.
2012 Tricó Rías Baixas. 89 points. Light golden color; floral notes and lemon zest on the nose. Lively and fresh on the palate. Good acidity. Medium light body. This is pleasant to drink, very crisp and food friendly wine.
Pasta, Piquillo and Iberico Carpaccio, Mushrooms and Parmesan. This alternate version of the classic Italian carpaccio has the “meat” replaced with a pasta. It did look and taste pretty meaty, but pasta like at the same time.
Okay the name was a little confusing. It had “salt and pepper” on top — except it wasn’t salt and pepper but I think a sugar and and some kind of chocolate maybe? Hard to say, but it was delicious and a huge chunk of foie.
2006 Bodegas Muga Rioja Gran Reserva Prado Enea. VM 92. raised in large oak vats for a year, followed by three years in small, used American oak barrels): Dark ruby. Highly fragrant scents of redcurrant, dried cherry, pipe tobacco, leather and rose oil. Lively and precise on the palate, offering deeply pitched red fruit and floral pastille flavors and a hint
of black pepper. The youthfully tight finish features excellent clarity and lingering spiciness.
Roasted Pigeon with a Touch of Mole and Cocoa. The thing on the left was a kind of cookie with spiced pigeon meat inside — delicious.
Closer picture because this pigeon was SO GOOD. Just amazing. Tender rare meat, and an awesome rich mole sauce.
Some various petite fours.
This was an amazing meal. The style at Akelaŕe seems to be playful reinterpretations of classic French/Spanish/Italian dishes. It uses modernist techniques, but not so heavily as to distort the dish into unfoodlike forms. And most importantly, the dishes retain solid flavor profiles with balance. They don’t always taste exactly like you’d expect, but they taste good and in the “frequency range” of whatever dish roll they serve in the meal. I.e. a savory, while perhaps having sweet notes, still tastes like a savory. As general rule the dishes are also complex, involving multiple ingredients working in harmony, but the chef has a fabulous sense of pairing and I don’t remember anything with a jarring or off-putting combinations as is sometimes a problem in extreme modernism.
Setting, as you can see, was magnificent, as was service. Not only were they extremely attentive, but they easily dealt with several different dietary rule sets, including our young son.
Certainly a worthy three star experience. Akelaŕe is crafting cutting edge food that sings on the palate.