The restaurant is situated in Belgravia’s Halkin hotel. The Halkin is one of the hotels belonging to the prestigious COMO group (boasting utter gorgeousness globally).
The “Arzak Instruction” was established by a team of five from Arzak restaurant (who hold three Michelin stars) to deliver the philosophies of a unique and unforgettable cooking style to the Ametsa (currently holding one Michelin star).Rooted in the traditions of ‘New Basque Cuisine’, pairing earthy flavours and techniques of Spain’s Basque region with modern, surprising twists. Fresh, locally-sourced and organic produce from land and sea are Ametsa’s building blocks.
I really recommend you opt for the tasting menu to sample a little of everything that the creative and flavour geniuses have to offer. The tasting menu (£105 pp / £154pp with wine pairing) will have you and your table ooh-ing, ahh-ing with at every dish and with every mouthful inducing your eyes to roll in the back of your head. This is beyond food porn- harnessing invention, elements of nostalgia, exploration and of course, a bit of drama.
To start, a little amuse bouche in the form of a tomato and strawberry chilled soup, served in a shot glass- as tempting as it is to down in one from something in a shot glass, please don’t, far too pretty and tasty to be over so quickly.
The Onion Rock with Marinated Anchovie for me was one of the most visually enchanting dishes, and as an appetizer really does set the tone for the continuing flawless presentation and intricate skill applied to each dish. The “rock” element appearing bizarre in black and tasting like mellow yellow onions, with a coiled anchovie atop soft, silky- exquisite textures against one another.
The Sunflower Seed Cracker with Duck was something like the finest version of a pate on toast, even the crackers appeared to have some form of architecture to them.
A little fruity “pasta” parcel containing the Chistorra – a sweet chorizo-type sausage meat was light and mousse-like leaving you with a tangy tongue.
Scallops at Home- for me this was one of the highlights of the highlights. Served with a seaweed cracker with tiny edible flowers filling its crevices, again the attention to detail is transcendent, and the dish also flashed a nod to the realm of “superfoods” coming with a sweet creamy goji berry sauce. I don’t think a dish has ever made me smile the way that this one did.
The Langoustine on a Bed of Lichens- for me on paper does not conjour any feelings of excitement, especially as a lichen can also mean a skin ailment. However upon delivery of the dish, the langoustine with only its fleshiest of fleshy part (no ugly whole headed aliens on the plate), served with a perched cracker made with crab looking something like a Philip Treacy hat- sweet & stunning.
When you book for the tasting menu, your table is likely to receive different plates / menus from one another when you get the fish and meat section. This was great as we really did get to try a bit of everything, and sharing is definitely caring here.
A little minx of a dish, the seductive and smoky Tuna with Cinnamon arrives in all its pinky handsomeness with a glass dome atop the plate encompassing a cinnamon myst. The dome is lifted and savoury woody aromas surround you. The table is also presented with a smoking cinnamon stick- sensory explosion.
For my friend dining, her highlight was the Red Emperor with Beans, with the fish (snapper) cooked ridiculously well and an earthy well seasoned white bean sauce. The plate was decorated with more edible flowers, this really was a regal winner.
The Suckling Pig on Carob Crumbs was a hunky platform of pork with some cracking crackling. An amazing bit of meat, but I did find the dish as a whole far too rich for my palette at this point of the meal. Also I have always had an aversion to anything carob. But as we had been served different meat dishes, it gave us the opportunity to share.
The Beef Fillet with Green Tomato, was another outstanding dish, the meat served as it should be medium-rare, with a light green tomato mousse encompassing the essence of everything fresh. Its flavour can only be described as clean and green. I’ve never tasted anything quite like it and would have quite happily been served the mousse on it’s own.
Before we were served dessert, a little delight came along in the form of a shot glass containing flavour elements of sangria (peel, berry etc), with popping candy. Topped up at the table with Sangria you then delve in with a spoon. I really liked this idea, it brought another fun element and also a little nod to childhood via popping candy. My friend didn’t get on with the Sangria shot and within minutes an alternative had been sent out in the form of homemade gelato which was very well received. All your needs are catered for here.
Clove Custard, Toasted Milk and Pineapple Ice Cream – utterly aromatic and warming flavours making the cooling, light ice cream an intriguing, clever, and undeniably moreish dish. The toasted milk shards (much like a thin wafer) were crisp and reminded me of the chocolate Caramac’s flavour, delicious against the piquant pineapple ice cream.
The service, much like its food is absolute. A flawless stream of perfectly timed new dishes to the table and topping up / changing of the wines to pair each plate. The service does feel orchestrated, and I have seen others refer to it as robotic. However, the tasting menu is a show and I can only applaud these masters of precision and perfection.
It’s worth mentioning Ametsa with Arzak Instruction also offer a set lunchtime menu for £27.50.
Reviewed by @LohanJordanADDRESS: 5-6 Halkin St, London SW1X 7DJPHONE: 020 7333 1234
PRICE: £££££ (explained)
STAR RATING: ***** (explained)
TIPPING POLICY: http://www.comohotels.com/thehalkin/dining/ametsa-arzak-instruction/reservations