Donosti Dining Update, Vol. VI
I am so happy!
Here I am, back with one of what should be MANY posts detailing all the new openings I have yet to cover over the last few months (sí, I feel guilty). So many places have opened in San Sebastián, and this post deals with a few that are all in a similar vein.
In this Donosti Dining Update, the sixth volume ever, the common thread linking the restaurants is a hipster sensibility, a kitchen that is small or limited, and a certain globally influenced contemporary creativity at work behind the menu.
I know it’s been a while, so here’s a reminder of what even this is. On my blog, I've always covered whatever I want—from the days when I used to post about cooking in my tiny Alabama kitchen to now, writing about all things Basque as I go on nine years here in San Sebastián. A lot of new businesses have opened (and closed) over the last few years, many of them restaurants, cafés and bars. If there's one thing I'm short on, it's time. And I've always written my blog with an eye for excellence, insisting on covering only spots that really blow me out of the water. But that means I miss a lot of coverage, and I feel like I am letting my readers and visitors to San Sebastián down.
That’s why I started the Donostia Dining Update, a supposedly quicker way to collect new(ish) spots in San Sebastián and keep us all in the know.
SAN SEBASTIÁN RESTAURANTS & HOW I RATE THEM
Since this is my blog and I can do what I want, I have curated a strange group of criteria that summarizes the way my brain breaks down a restaurant experience. Ratings are from 0-5 and highly subjective.
$€$€ : Tuning in to how I felt looking at the check. The general price to quality ratio, the relation to how good it was to how much I paid.
Vibeyness : I'm super sensitive to ambience. Love low lighting and textures. Don't like virtual Pinterest reality.
Gobackability : How likely is this place to be somewhere I make a regular haunt?
WIFI: 👍 or 👎, self-explanatory, ¿jyes?
Martimeter : The general feeling I have about the place, an unexplainable rating yet perhaps the most important of all..
Okay, enough of that, on with the show!
First stop, the oldest restaurant on this update. I really dropped the ball here with Matalauva…it was perhaps the first of this genre of bars to pop up, and I honestly do like its aesthetic and old-school bar style. The small bar has a a menu made up of dishes that are cooked without a stove or fryer, meaning that most of the items are either in their natural or cured state or cooked sous vide.
They do much of their shopping in the exquisite nearby markets of France, which gives them an advantage when it comes to menu creation. When you don’t have a kitchen, you have to get creative with your dishes, and incorporating tubers from France that are unknown here, such as celeriac and Jerusalem artichoke, gives them an advantage.
Last night we enjoyed this “waffle” of blood sausage served with alubia (bean) cream and guindilla peppers. Other fresh dishes include course, fava beans with ham and yolk vinaigrette, roasted pig carpaccio, charcuterie, smoked fish dishes, and others that change, of course, with the season.
$€$€ : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Vibeyness : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Gobackability : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Martimeter : ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Zabaleta Kalea, 17 (GROS)
This bar located right smack on the main drag of San Sebastián’s old part is very similar in concept to Matalauva. If anything, the difference is felt mostly in the Latin American influence in some of the plates. Alongside foie and charcuterie offerings you can find ceviche, stuffed matambre, and panqueques with dulce de leche. Overall the food is nice, with different touches and flavors that smack of the modern world, like this dish of vinegary eggplant with almonds and yogurt—not something you expect to find in San Sebastián (also probably should have shared with someone…the vinegar become overpowering about halfway through).
The exterior signage as well as the plates and platters have a lovely, fashionable vintage touch: dishes are old patterned tea plates and bowls, and the pintxo bar is laid with ornate silver. As with the other two spots on the Dining Update round up, the food is highly Instagrammable. The bar’s focus is more on small plates and entrees, rather than pintxos, which makes it hard to try various dishes without your bill climbing up unless you go in a group.
Worth a try…I for one hope to get back soon.
$€$€ : ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Vibeyness : ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Gobackability : ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Martimeter : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
11, Boulevard Zumardia (OLD PART/CENTRO)
Kinza is a small, fairly new spot in the very back of Gros. They serve a daily plato del día, which is probably the best value on the menu. Their claim is “food from across the world”, and at least to an American sensibility the menu reads like a rundown of top dishes from your favorite ethnic fast food spots. Falafel, hummus, chicken fingers, guacamole, fried shrimp…etc etc.
The food is carefully presented, carefully enough to take a decent picture, which is fitting as this place was made for Insta. The falafel came with three dips and pita, although it was the first warning that the price of these dishes is just a euro or two more than they are worth.
The toast with escalivada and pesto with pine nuts? €7. And these chicken fingers? €8.
The truth is Donostia is having a price creep plague all over the city, so in reality these prices aren’t that exorbitant. It’s just the kind of place where your bill creeps up before you even realize it, and all for a couple bites of falafel, some chicken fingers, and a toast with veggies.
I didn’t have the firsthand chance to enquire about the provenance of the ingredients. But regardless, Kinza is definitely a spot targeting hipster locals and homesick visitors that just need a bit of modern comfort food.
$€$€ : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Vibeyness : ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Gobackability : ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Martimeter : ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Gran Vía Kalea, 30 (GROS)