Premium dining experiences in London come in droves with Michelin Star options peppering the entire city. The Michelin Star rating is rather foreign to me, and might be for many Australians, essentially it’s a global restaurant rating that excludes Australia, and awards stars based five criteria; quality of ingredients, skill in their preparation and the combination of flavours, level of creativity, value for money and consistency of culinary standards.
On a sunny Tuesday afternoon my girlfriend and I would be treated to my first Michelin Star experience in the beautiful Halkin Hotel at their premier restaurant Ametsa with Arzak Instruction. The Ametsa menu sees Elena Arzak – voted Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef in 2012 – along with her father Juan Mari Arzak, piece together an eclectic mix of Spanish cuisine with modern flair. Ametsa’s approach is rooted in the traditions of ‘New Basque Cuisine’, pairing the earthy flavours and techniques of Spain’s Basque region with modern, surprising twists featuring locally sourced and organic produce from land and sea.
We dive straight into the degustation options, swapping in and out dishes based on our preferences, which is no trouble for the attentive staff. The bespoke cocktail menu sees us kicking off the meal in tropical style and as the first dish is dropped we get an immediate understanding of the intricate details we will see over the next couple of hours.
Named “Scallops at Home” this incredible dish mimics the ocean floor with features such as onion sea sponge, and seashell shaped gnocchi. Our waiter held back descriptions of many elements of the meal, waiting for us to taste and experience before telling us what it was. This gastronomic guessing game had us bewildered at times.
Working around the ocean and paddock we had Cod with mushrooms, Beef fillet with Red Chillies and delicious suckling pig. At times I felt the intricacy of meal took away from the flavours, while presentation was exceptional and artistic, on the odd occasion I felt the flavours fell short of the flair. That said this was a special dining experience, and one that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Our meal finished with a series of desserts, the most memorable of which was the Clove Custard, Toasted Milk and Pineapple Ice cream. I’m a huge fan of fruit focussed desserts, and this was spectacular. Fresh, crunchy and cleansing it was the perfect end to a great culinary journey.
Thankyou to COMO Hotels and Ametsa for accommodating us.