#TasteRecommends: Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

#TasteRecommends: Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

“Can you smell that? Smells like spices…” commented my colleague after we “ooh”-ed and “aah”-ed over the stunning white, glass and shiny marble interior of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, situated in The Halkin by COMO, in the heart of Belgravia. Turns out the 7,000 large tubes hanging wave-like from the ceiling are filled with ten different vibrantly coloured spices. “Wow!” was our reaction. Our evening continued in this vein, and could certainly be surmised as “surprising” with Sergio Sanz Blanco – head chef extraordinaire at Ametsa, constantly amazing us with innovative and creative dishes.

Once settled in our seats we were greeted with fabulously attentive staff, and the mandatory glass of Cava (we are in Basque region after all!), and were informed that Sergio had created a bespoke menu for us that evening, highlighting Ameta’s signature dishes.

An assortment of aperitivos was presented to the table, along with a description of each dish and a suggested order of eating – from mildest to full flavour. We started with Scorpion fishcakes with Kataifi pastry – mild fishy flavour with a satisfying crunch, and moved through to creamy and smooth Iberico Ham test tubes, ending with Onion Rock with Marinated Anchovies and Mango, Beer and Black Pudding. Upon quizzing the waiter where the mango in the final dish had gone, he informed me the “ravioli” surrounding the Black Pudding was in fact a thin sheet of rolled mango!

A highlight of our meal was the “Scallops at Home” starter. A tapestry on a plate, we clapped our hands with glee in anticipation of eating such a beautiful dish. The goji berry and passionfruit sauce married perfectly with the sweet fishiness of the scallops. Not divulging all Ametsa’s secrets, let’s just say the “At Home” part of the title was aptly named…

Langoustine on Bamboo and Graffiti Egg with Green Sauce followed. Girolle mushrooms, macadamias and a bread and nut sauce accompanied the succulent, juicy langoustines, the creaminess of the dish cut through with a twist of lime juice, whilst plump fishy mussels sat alongside a perfectly poached marbled egg spooned with herb sauce. The Entrantes were washed down with a beautiful Chacolí, a very dry white wine produced in the Basque Country that is slightly sparkling on the tongue.

My main of Iberican Pork – served charred on the outside, but pink in the middle – was perfectly balanced with Jerusalem artichokes and mushrooms “rocks” crunching alongside the tender meat, with a sweet sesame seed, coconut and gelatine reduction. My guest had perfectly cooked lamb with textures of pistachio, black pudding crisps brought together by a rich lamb reduction (with a hint of chocolate!).

Now suitably satisfied from the savoury offerings, our attention turned to dessert. First, the dessert wine which was a Muscat, naturally, sweet and refined. My chocolate “The Big Truffle” oozed and melted away before our eyes leaving a chocolate and orange puddle we eagerly scooped up. “French Toast” was the alternative, a buttery brioche affair offset with a sharp passionfruit sauce and vanilla ice cream.

“Ametsa” means “dream” in Basque, and judging from the meal we enjoyed, the team let their imagination run free, no idea is too big to emulate on a plate. The latter “Arzak Instruction” is, of course, an ode to Arzak, the San Sebastian family-run restaurant regularly ranked near the top of the Best Restaurant in the World lists. Emily Arzak’s “earthy flavours and techniques” of New Basque cuisine are certainly prevalent here and very, very welcomed.

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