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Martin Berasategui

October 17, 2016

We decided to end our Spanish tour with a bang at the three-Michelin starred establishment Martin Berasategui, its name eponymous with its chef, arriving precisely at 1300h on 22 Sep 2016 for lunch. Like most 3-star restaurants in Europe, it’s a little out of the way, tucked away in Lasarte-Oria outside of San Sebastian, though it is not difficult to locate. 2016-09-22-13-06-56Martin holds the most number of Michelin stars amongst all Spanish chefs and this flagship restaurant has held its third star since 2001. The restaurant and its environment exudes a very clean and neat feel with an interior décor that is modern, functional yet sophisticated. Yet that can, sometimes, work against it as the restaurant may tend to resemble other two- or three-starred establishments and one wished that the whole place could be more individualistic in design and feel. The staff is attentive, knowledgeable (when we thought a bottle of white didn’t feel cold enough to touch, the reply came straight away that it had been cellared at 6 degree C) and friendly enough to avoid creating a stuffy atmosphere. We went for its full degustation, a 13-course affair that stretches 3-4 hours. The food, when it came, was masterfully crafted with real sophistication and imagination, each a visual delight, quite sublime, exuding real flavours and textures in the mouth.

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The wine selection, on the other hand, is excellent at low prices, if one knows how to select Spanish wines.Here, Jimmy Lim’s expert knowledge proved to be most useful and the wines we had complemented the food very well:

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2007 Pago de Cirsus Navarro Chardonnay. Powerful aromas of lime, preserved tropical fruit and chalk with a hint of nutmeg and wild flowers, displaying good concentration and quiet intensity on the palate, more minerally and minty at the finish with further notes of honeysuckle emerging

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2005 Finca Allende Rioja. This Rioja white has a tone of glazed creme with aromas of white flowers and a whiff of apricot, quite lovely, starting off gently, becoming more pronounced over time, though its gentleness on the palate remains most beguiling with no shortage of fruit, depth and structure, very harmonious with a sense of icing in its finish.

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2011 Abel Mendoza Rioja. This wine opens with earthy tones and an abundance of raspberries and wild berries, displaying excellent ripeness, full-bodied with tight but unobtrusive tannins, finishing in blaze of spice and peppery tones. Reminds me of syrah.

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2012 Preludio de Sei Solo. From Ribera del Duero, this wine exudes warm ripe wild berries, dark plums and dark currants, tight with structured tannins amidst spicy and earthy tones, still somewhat unresolved. Needs plenty of time.

2016-09-22-15-43-54Somehow though, on the whole, the food didn’t move the earth. Our palates must have been too jaded from all that intensive wining and dining over the past few days to fully appreciate the genius of Martin Berasategui. For sure though, the beef, good as it was, doesn’t surpass what we had at Etxebarri. Nevertheless, I can whole-heartedly recommend Martin Berasetegui if you are prepared to splurge EUR 220 for a 4-hour lunch. Make sure you arrive hungry. 2016-09-22-15-40-09

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