I only had time to dine at one three-starred restaurant which made choosing the right one quite the challenge. Trawling through numerous threads on Chowhound and considering it would be a lunch seating, I ultimately decided on Akelaŕe.
Akelaŕe is situated atop a hill, with large windows in the dining room that provide sweeping views of the Bay of Biscay far below. I am glad I requested a table by the window.
The meal started with an appetizer called "Sea Garden". I was served from left to right, an Oyster Leaf, "Mussel" with ""Shell", Sea Urchin's Sponge, Beach Pebbles (of shallot and corn) and Seaweed Coral tempura over Prawn's "Sand". Ironically, nothing in this dish was seafood apart from the tiny bits of dried prawn in the "sand". Very clever!
The first course of the meal were prawns which was cooked table-side in a pot with lava rocks and wine spirit.Pre-plating. I am waiting (im)patiently for the prawns to cook.
And voila - the final dish served with green bean cream and ground prawn shells. It was a great way to start the meal.
The next dish was called Mollusks in Fisherman's Net. The mollusks are the off-white pieces you can see through the net. It was described in the menu as having a full sea flavour. That was no lie and as such it was my least favourite dish. Having said that, the net was fish-free and made of rice flour - it was as tasty as it was pretty.Next on the menu was Pasta Carpaccio, Piquillo and Iberic with Parmesan Shrooms. A dish made entirely of vegetables and pasta, this was nothing short of outstanding. Can you also spot the truffles?
By now you may have realised that I was dining on my own. Not a stranger to solo restaurant visits, I was happily and thoughtfully consuming each mouthful and I was actually pretty "in-it" that I didn't even care to take out the book I brought with me. It was at this juncture that the two gentlemen sitting at the table adjacent to mine kindly invited me to join them for the rest of the meal. It was a lovely gesture and there was no way I could refuse.
So the next dish was brought to my new table - hake which was breaded in monkfish skin served over mussels, rice and piparras (basque peppers). Frankly I don't quite remember how this dish tasted, being too fascinated by my new dining companions (one of whom was celebrating his birthday!). I ate it all though so it must have been good?
The fifth dish was a red mullet fillet served with three different flavoured "fusilli" - soy sauce, parsley and ajo blanco (garlic soup). I was paying attention again and I liked how nicely the fish went with the vastly different "fusilli" - my favourite being the one in soy.
Next, I was served a grilled lamb loin served with plum sauce (light brown) and a red wine reduction (dark brown) and red wine sediments (dark brown bits on the plum sauce). The light green bit on the top left hand corner was green tea powder - which I hardly touched, choosing to devour the lamb with the plum/wine sauce instead.
Finally it was dessert time. The first course being xaxu - a traditional cake with almond and yolk originally made famous by a local pastry chef. It came with the most incredible foaming coconut ice mousse. I thanked the powers that be there were TWO pieces of this mousse as they were heavenly!
The last thing on the menu was this dish called A Different Apple Tart. Edible apple paper covered puff pastry layers with apple and praline cream. I should be thankful that it was only at this time that I started to feel a bit full. I really enjoyed this dessert but it was definitely overshadowed by the coconut-xaxu business above.
Bonus: the birthday boy at my table was dining off the Bekarki menu and was served this as his second dessert: what looked like a freshly-picked strawberry was in fact reconstructed with strawberry cream, ice cream and basil seeds. I had a taste and instantly wished I could eat the entire thing. I also wish I had a bigger purse as the plate it was served on was so pretty I wanted to take it home!
So there you have it, my phenomenal meal at Akelaŕe. I am glad this was my first meal at San Sebastian as it started the holiday off on such a high note. Everything about the experience was perfect, from the innovative dishes to the accidental dining companions to the impeccable service. I can not WAIT to return.
|Jetlagged but happy - Anthropologie Stamp Art Dress and belt, Kenneth Cole wedges, DKNY bag.|