Amelia : San Sebastián, Basque Country
Amelia restaurant opened back in the spring in the center of San Sebastián, the culinary dream-come-true of Paulo Airaudo, an Argentine chef who previously worked and fell in love with the city and has now returned. The restaurant plants itself decidedly in the global camp...never has a restaurant opened with such an enormous investment, a level of interior design, and an efficiently organized digital advertising campaign in the history of the city.
It turns out that all this effort bore fruit. This month Amelia was awarded its first Michelin star, no small feat in a city that the Guide is loathe to give another star. The one earned by Amelia makes 17 in this city (and surroundings) of about 180,000 inhabitants.
Fortunately, the food coming out of the kitchen delivers on the hype. It's not Basque, it doesn't particularly taste of local cuisine, but it's a treasure for the residents of San Sebastián. Amelia is the best way in town to get a glimpse of what's happening in pricier, starrier, harder to get reservations across the globe.
So instead of giving you a rundown of my meals at the hand of Paulo, I'm giving you a top 10 of the best plates I've tasted there over a couple different visits. It feels more truthful to the experience, which frames each plate like a piece of art to be contemplated in solitude. Enjoy this countdown to my favorite dish from the city's latest Michelin spot.
Dish #10 : Black garlic-glazed onion with its pickles.
Dish #9 : Tuna belly with powdered onion, roasted onion, onion puree and chervil.
Dish #8 : Honeycomb ice-cream with Taleggio cheese.
Desserts were probably one of my favorite parts of Amelia. Yes, I am a sweets person. And I am also a sweets person that is just so friggin tired of the same offering made by the same amazing chefs that profess a total lack of love for dessert and disdain the magic that happens when butter meets the oven or fresh fruit freezes into sorbet in favor of a sparkling, fresh, gigantic fish or bloody steak.
Dish #7 : Crispy with chimichurri.
The staff invites the diners down to the kitchen at some point during the meal. It's a nice opportunity to make some small talk and *bonus* snacks.
Dish #6 : Artisan bread served with butter, solidified olive oil, and chicken liver pate.
I am, at my heart, a country girl, so needless to say this combination won me over.
Dish #5 : Chicken wings with celeriac.
For whatever reason, the wings at Amelia are always one of the best dishes.
Dish #4 : Baby leeks with pork belly and plums.
Dish #3 : Pannacotta horseradish, eel, and and salmon eggs, with parsley oil.
Dish #2 : Caviar, avocado, and creme fraiche ice cream.
This one was served with a freezing cold shot of vodka table side. It was absolutely a lovely perfect plate...I'm aware that it's not the first restaurant to dream up this combination, but I'm happy to have experienced it.
Dish #1 : Caramelized topinambur puree, walnut granola & white chocolate ice-cream.
Sorry not sorry.
And then, as an addendum, this really freaky "extra" served to us without revealing its main ingredient. Since I'm not much for spoilers, I'll refrain from telling you what it was. Guess in the comments...if you dare!
Reservations are a must.
Prim Kalea, 34
Donostia, Gipuzkoa 20006
+34 943 84 56 47