Is that day tomorrow? I'm intrigued
Mugaritz popped up on my radar when planning a trip through the area (that I've not done yet)
So, especially for @roomraider, I will describe my Mugaritz meal. Apologies to the OP as I know its a tangent, and I don't intend to turn this into a food blog or anything, but the meal was just so f'in ridiculous, I'll consider it a public service announcement. Lots of writing and photos ahead.
So the great evening started with the taxi there. When I gave him the restaurant name he looked as us blankly. Not believing that a taxi driver could not know where one of (allegedly) best restaurants in the world was, we said it again. Again he looked blankly. Before finally we gave up and showed him it on a iphone, to be met with “Oh Mugartiz!”, said to us in response in basically the exact same way as we had said it. But having got there the place is beautiful. It's a lovely room, lots of dark wood and a strange smashed plate in the middle of the table.
Then starts the pretention. One of the army of waiting staff shows us the little book and pencil on our table. Apparently this is some kind of dictionary with terms that aren’t usually culinary in a culinary setting. Some of the definitions were missing and we were invited to fill in the gaps with how we felt from the meal. Because nothing quite says enjoyable evening like homework.
So the first course comes. And this plate, well I say a plate, basically a porcelain mask, arrives with little flowers and plants over it. At this stage I’m really excited. This is exactly what I’m expecting from a restaurant rated 9th in the World by Restaurant Magazine, and with 2 Michelin stars.
They gave us this speech about how “due to covid, we’ve not been able to hug or kiss each other as much as we want, so this is our kiss to you. We call it first kiss. There’s no cutlery, so you have to use your hands and fingers to do the eating”. Meaning that I’m there dressed up and literally licking and kissing this face.
Honestly I quite liked it. This was as good as the evening got.
Then it got...weird.
The next course was apparently chick peas in broth, but literally tasted to me like ordinary bog standard peas. Like you could recreate this at home with a bag of Birdseye frozen peas and an Oxo cube.
The fact it was served in a wine glass just meant that all of the peas got stuck at the bottom giving you just a mouthful of broth. And it’s not like it was a great broth. You then had to pick the peas out at the end as still no cutlery.
As an aside, apparently Mugaritz designs a menu for every table depending on produce and dietary requirements, so that every table would have a different meal overall. I might be wrong, but I don’t recall seeing any table getting any dishes we didn’t also get, although they may have been in a different order. That the menu we got wasn’t in the same order as the dishes we received makes me think even more this was just a set menu for everyone for the night.
It was about now that the sommelier came over. They have a QR code wine list of far too expensive wines for most of us mere mortals, so she invited us to ask for recommendations (yes, this is pretty much how it went down). We suggested a wine pairing (I do enjoy trying new wines and I find pairings fun). She grimaced slightly and suggested at 200 euros per person and the wine being given being very little, we were better off picking something else. We suggested a local red. She suggested the menu wasn’t really geared towards red wines. We eventually settled on a quite nice Champagne for 99 euros. Well it was nice except most of the time we had an empty glass, and when they did pour it, there wasn’t enough in the glass to drown a gnat. I mean why do places not simply pour a decent glass of champagne, especially when they’re so bad at keeping you topped up.
The third course seemed to me to be literally a bowl of samphire, although the menu seemed to suggest that it was actually wild asparagus. Anyway they’d added this powder that made it really nice. But its a bowl of veg.
Still eating with fingers by the way.
Fourth was this three item dish, that had to be eaten in a certain order, with the thin slimy one first, then the crispy one which had the consistency of cheap pork cracking, and finally the ball. I literally have no idea what this dish was, three types of cuttlefish I think they said? It doesn’t help when the pretentious menu is pretentious and speaks in pretentious code. Anyway, that ball was grim.
It was so fatty tasting and it was like it coated my mouth with oil. The next course couldn’t come soon enough to get rid of the taste. Sadly the next course might have been the worst one of all.
The egg course. Now basically they said that this course wasn't great tasting (?!?). Basically they came out with this talk about how to clarify the wine or the sherry or something they used to use egg. So they were going to give us this egg dish with what seemed like egg whites all fluffed up, a cube of egg yoke and an unclarified wine, and we were to take a bite and then drink, and then take a bite and then drink. It didn’t help, it was hideous. I saw the woman on the next table put the full yoke in at once and then spit it out into her napkin.
Next up was a dish that I actually quite liked but, to be honest, I’d completely forgotten about until I saw the photographs afterwards. This was a tomato dish with some kind of granita. Now it helps that the tomatoes were in season and there is nothing quite like a Spanish tomato in season. I’d love to say what this granita was but the useless menu doesn’t help with that either. Finally some cutlery though. I mean seems odd paying all that money and you eat the first half with your hands.
Next up was a trio of dishes served together, a chunk of apricot with caviar on, some corn on the cob with vanilla and some milk foam.
The milk foam was ridiculous. The waiter came over to us and stated very proudly “anyone can make milk foam, but it normally only stays foamy for a bit. We have found a way to make the foam last and stay forever”. I mean sure its clever and all that, but they never said why. So what if they have found a way to make the foam last? What is the point. It was about now that I realised this isn’t really a restaurant for customers, but it’s a restaurant for chefs. It’s not so that the general members of the public like us can be wowed, it’s so that chefs can be wowed by the technique not the taste. Me, I don’t really care if the milk froth stays or not.
The apricot and caviar was, in fairness, a very nice and surprising combo. And the corn with vanilla surprised me no end. I cannot stand corn on the cob but this was quite nice. But its hardly pushing the boat out is it.
Around this time it was a trip to the restroom. You’re greeted with black toilet paper. Which, to put it bluntly, made it difficult to see if you’d properly wiped or not.
Next up two dishes came. One was a foam with a sauce which I actually thought was very nice. The foam was ok but the sauce delicious. And with it was a single piece of green pepper with some kind of hake sauce. Which was wholly forgettable to be honest.
Next was a make your own ravioli, which was basically a really sticky piece of …. something, with a couple of nuts and some mushrooms on it. This was a disaster for Ellie. It was so bad she accidentally spat it out and it went all over the table. From this point on bits of it could be seen in all of the photos. I also hate this "built you own" thing. No, you build it for us. Lee Mack does a good sketch about Robbie Williams gigs where he's like "sing it" and Lee Mack is "No, I've paid to hear you sing it"
It was served, I think, with some beans or almonds or something in little sauce. Seriously, I should have used the pretentious book of definitions to make notes on what I’d eaten. How foolish of me to expect the menu to assist?!?
Next up some wilted greens and some sauce. I literally cannot remember this. Even the photos bring back no memories. Looking at the menu it might have had albacore underneath which was ok. I think.
Next up were some prawns in a clear broth.
When I posted the photos on a Facebook a chef friend of mine commented that she expected that the broth would be really flavourful. You’d think wouldn’t you? A very loud American women asked them how they made the broth so clear. And it was true that that they made it very clear. But why? What’s the point?
With it came a “second kiss”. The second kiss was basically an oyster that you had to eat from a rock.
Next up some tonka beans which had a wine poured over them. And yeah they were ok I guess.
Next up was some fake gnocchi. This course annoyed me so much. The waiter was “see if you can guess what the gnocchi is made of”. Eventually he proudly asserted that it was made from bone tendons. Which is fine and all that. But why? When gnocchi itself is perfectly fine. Its not like gnocchi is an endangered species. There’s no David Attenborough documentary about the plight of the gnocchi. There’s been no Gnocchi Aid concert at Wembley, with Coldplay imploring us to buy responsible potato pasta products. It was just so pointless. It tasted fine, good in fact, but it just was not as nice as real actual gnocchi.
Next up was a course called Prejudice. Again the wait staff attempting to be playful. “To get what this is, you’ll have to use your brain and think about it” with such emphasis on the word brain that it was obvious what it was. Brain. I’ve had brain before. It’s just not that great. Its only purpose as food is if you’re the type of person who likes to show off the disgusting things you’ve eaten. It came in a sauce which was just. Yuck. They called this course prejudice so as to say “ah, well its only through prejudice that you don’t like brain”. I’m thinking no, its because it tastes like feet.
Next up was a single oyster on a honeycomb. Its there in the photo. You can just about see it. Its fair to say that it tasted exactly how it sounded. I actually really liked that course. It was quite fun sucking the honeycomb for all it was worth.
Sea Bream next. Totally forgotten about it.
And finally dessert. I expected so much. I did not expect a trolley to be theatrically brought out to the table to be followed by each being given two pieces of chocolate….and that’s it. I mean literally go to Hotel Chocolate, buy one of their Rabot range of chocolates, tear off a couple of pieces of chocolate, and there you go, a 2 Michelin star dessert.
Finally we were given the menu.
Look, Roomraider / anyone else. San Sebastian is one of the most amazing cities I've been to. The food is amazing. There's even (to bring it back to goonery) the brilliant Montana Suiza there, arguably one of the world's best views from a coaster.
(sorry about the sidewards photo).
And the city has amazing pintxo. I'll finish with a few photos of pintxo from the town, all below 10 euros, most under 5. Do them. Not Mugaritz.