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#1 The Princess

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 04:56 PM

I am spending a few days at the beginning of September in "Michelinville" or San Sebastian. So we have to go eat at Martin Berasategui, Arzak, Akelarre, and Mugaritz...But are there any good tapas or less fussy eateries we can go? I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

#2 Orik

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 05:33 PM

You really not need to eat at Martin B., I'm not sure about Arzak and Mugaritz, I guess one of them is sort of mandatory.

Try Ibai for something different (the restaurant, not the tapas bar, book ahead as it's tiny). Out of town there's Elkano and less formal (also somewhat less good but still... the whole grilled turbot and the mero are very good) Kaipe. There are several good pintxos places (I recommend trying to stay out of tourist central, Gros has Alona Berri* as an obvious choice, but quite a few others, see todopintxos.com ). An unlikely choice but a very good fish/seafood restaurant is Branka, over by the tennis courts. Lovely view too, try lunch. Visit Bretxa (fish downstairs, produce outside).



* I read somewhere that Joserra might be retiring but I'm not sure how reliable that was or how much of a difference it would make.
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#3 LML

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 05:51 PM

QUOTE(Orik @ Jun 11 2010, 07:33 PM) View Post
You really not need to eat at Martin B., I'm not sure about Arzak and Mugaritz, I guess one of them is sort of mandatory.

Try Ibai for something different (the restaurant, not the tapas bar, book ahead as it's tiny). Out of town there's Elkano and less formal (also somewhat less good but still... the whole grilled turbot and the mero are very good) Kaipe. There are several good pintxos places (I recommend trying to stay out of tourist central, Gros has Alona Berri* as an obvious choice, but quite a few others, see todopintxos.com ). An unlikely choice but a very good fish/seafood restaurant is Branka, over by the tennis courts. Lovely view too, try lunch. Visit Bretxa (fish downstairs, produce outside).



* I read somewhere that Joserra might be retiring but I'm not sure how reliable that was or how much of a difference it would make.


Elkano, for sure (carabineros, almejas, rodaballo). Forget Mugaritz; it exists solely for gushy food-bloggers, and late adopting ones at that (the cool ones are now all playing soggy biscuit in Scandinavia) bookings are right down and it's nearly empty during the week. Two recent experiences at Berasategui were excellent. I used to rate him, then was disappointed, and now he seems back on form. Akelarre has never really seemed up to much. Arzak remains excellent.
A dress is neither a tragedy nor a painting it is a charming and ephemeral creation, not an everlasting work of art. Fashion should die and die quickly in order that commerce may survive.


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#4 The Princess

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 08:51 PM

Thanks for the honest feed back. I was shuddering at the horror of having to get through several hours of michelin style food, now I feel much better. I will book Ibai and get myself to Elkano and definitely Branka. Someone told me that you can see San Sebastian in a day, and I should go to Bilbao as a diversion, is that true? I don't plan to do much except read a book by the beach, but there'll be days when I need to get away from the BF.

#5 LML

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Posted 11 June 2010 - 09:27 PM

QUOTE(The Princess @ Jun 11 2010, 10:51 PM) View Post
Someone told me that you can see San Sebastian in a day, and I should go to Bilbao as a diversion, is that true? I don't plan to do much except read a book by the beach, but there'll be days when I need to get away from the BF.


Donosti is tiny. However, you have some lovely places very nearby (Hondarribi, Biarritz, Tolosa). I recommend 'El Fronton' en Tolosa for alubias. Don't count on good weather though.
A dress is neither a tragedy nor a painting it is a charming and ephemeral creation, not an everlasting work of art. Fashion should die and die quickly in order that commerce may survive.


Food or frock?

#6 The Princess

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 11:54 AM

Thanks again. I figure we get there over the labor and may be we'll get some good august weather. But will pack umbrella. Just out of curiosity, are there any decent places for lunch in Biarritz? I haven't ben there in 20 years!

#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 12 June 2010 - 07:05 PM

I spent almost a week in San Sebastian and loved it. It's true there's not much to "see", though (although of course LML is right about the environs).
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#8 Orik

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 05:08 PM

QUOTE(The Princess @ Jun 12 2010, 07:54 AM) View Post
Thanks again. I figure we get there over the labor and may be we'll get some good august weather. But will pack umbrella. Just out of curiosity, are there any decent places for lunch in Biarritz? I haven't ben there in 20 years!


There's the place in St. Jean de Luz I wrote about (Chez Mattin). I'm not sure about Biarritz proper - maybe Les Rosiers? (haven't been, but read good stuff). Alternatively just go surfing - labor day weekend is just about the best time of year for that.

Regarding weather, never believe Europeans when they complain about it, we were there in April, it was sunny and highs were in the mid 70s. (then again, after we left there was snow in the Pyrenees again)


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#9 Gastro Donosti

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:01 PM

Directly from San Sebastian:

Depends on how long and how much you want to spend. BUT the recomendations about traditional such as Elkano (Getaria), Frontón (Tolosa) and others are a must.
Of course you'll have to spend a day doing "pinchos" (by the way, Joserra has retired and closed his bar last April, his daughter is openning it but after she has her twins during the summer). About the three stars, everyone has an opinion, Arzak is like the cathedral you have to visit the first time you go to a city. I, fortunately, visit the rest regularly, they all have their ups and downs, it all depends on what you're looking for.

By the way, no one talks about a great restaurant in San Sebastian, and much more if you're into wines, REKONDO has the best wine cellar in Spain and great traditional food.

Personally, no thrills in this part of France, we do go sometimes, but it's more expensive and not always a complete gastronomic experience

#10 Orik

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:04 PM

Yes, the French side is two to three times more expensive, but for a traveler from New York it still looks almost free.

Welcome!
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#11 Gastro Donosti

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:05 PM

By the way, about IBAI which is an almost perfect experience, don't even think of going there if you don't speak Spanish, and they don't usually like strangers that don't understand how they do their business which is quite peculiar.

#12 Gastro Donosti

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Posted 13 June 2010 - 09:09 PM

QUOTE(Orik @ Jun 13 2010, 09:04 PM) View Post
Yes, the French side is two to three times more expensive, but for a traveler from New York it still looks almost free.

Welcome!


Thanks.

But if you have two or three dinners/lunches I would prefer to have them in this side. And I ussually try a lot on that side because many people ask for recommendations in France after their shopping, but there's nothing we can do about that.


#13 The Princess

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 01:56 PM

Orik, thanks for the surfing suggestion! The BF is not such a foodie but is an aviod surfer, so I am really glad that he gets to go surfing. Thanks Gastro Donosti for the warning on IBAI, unfortunately, none of us speak any Spanish, so we may have to miss that one.

Hmmm, I wonder if Spanish speakers on this board is up for dinner around labor day weekend? laugh.gif

The French side may be a good way to spend a morning, but the idea would be to get back on the Spanish territory. And, yes, the restaurant prices in NYC is atrocious!


#14 Steven Dilley

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Posted 14 June 2010 - 02:15 PM

QUOTE(Gastro Donosti @ Jun 13 2010, 04:01 PM) View Post
Directly from San Sebastian:

Depends on how long and how much you want to spend. BUT the recomendations about traditional such as Elkano (Getaria), Frontón (Tolosa) and others are a must.
Of course you'll have to spend a day doing "pinchos" (by the way, Joserra has retired and closed his bar last April, his daughter is openning it but after she has her twins during the summer). About the three stars, everyone has an opinion, Arzak is like the cathedral you have to visit the first time you go to a city. I, fortunately, visit the rest regularly, they all have their ups and downs, it all depends on what you're looking for.

By the way, no one talks about a great restaurant in San Sebastian, and much more if you're into wines, REKONDO has the best wine cellar in Spain and great traditional food.

Personally, no thrills in this part of France, we do go sometimes, but it's more expensive and not always a complete gastronomic experience


Welcome, Gastro!

Can you speak more about Rekondo's wine list? Are we talking old Rioja and the like at reasonable prices? Or are we talking about something greater than that?
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#15 Gastro Donosti

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 05:04 PM

QUOTE(Steven Dilley @ Jun 14 2010, 02:15 PM) View Post
QUOTE(Gastro Donosti @ Jun 13 2010, 04:01 PM) View Post
Directly from San Sebastian:

Depends on how long and how much you want to spend. BUT the recomendations about traditional such as Elkano (Getaria), Frontón (Tolosa) and others are a must.
Of course you'll have to spend a day doing "pinchos" (by the way, Joserra has retired and closed his bar last April, his daughter is openning it but after she has her twins during the summer). About the three stars, everyone has an opinion, Arzak is like the cathedral you have to visit the first time you go to a city. I, fortunately, visit the rest regularly, they all have their ups and downs, it all depends on what you're looking for.

By the way, no one talks about a great restaurant in San Sebastian, and much more if you're into wines, REKONDO has the best wine cellar in Spain and great traditional food.

Personally, no thrills in this part of France, we do go sometimes, but it's more expensive and not always a complete gastronomic experience


Welcome, Gastro!

Can you speak more about Rekondo's wine list? Are we talking old Rioja and the like at reasonable prices? Or are we talking about something greater than that?



Something greater than that, no doubt. You do have the great Riojas (the latest I openned at the place was Martinez Lacuesta 1928 - perfect) at more than reasonable prices but you'll find everything from France, Germany and Italy. Txomin Rekondo, the owner, has been the only real wine enthusiast on this side since he openned his restaurant, he has a perfect cellar for keeping all those wines and has been buying them directly from the bodegas, some still call him when they're missing a bottle from a certain year, and he even receives calls from Chateaus in France. -in Jancis Robinson's web (free for all edition) you'll find aomething on Rekondo.