Chef Eneko Atxa
# 16 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2016
Visited: October 15th, 2016 – Dinner Service
There are very few restaurants that are able to transcend a dining experience into a level where your taste buds are tantalized, where all your senses are stimulated, and where the flavours harmonized with the Chef’s creativity and discipline. Azurmendi has effortlessly achieved that level where it took us on a gastronomic journey of a lifetime.
Azurmendi has all the elements of a perfect dining experience – phenomenal food, exceptional service, and a Chef that is truly humble with a vision for sustainability. Chef Eneko Atxa is a true master at creating food that defines elegance, refinement, and an utmost respect for nature.
Azurmendi is located in the town of Larrabetzu in the Basque Country. From our hotel in Bilbao, we took a scenic 20-minute taxi ride to the restaurant. It is situated on a hill with commanding views overlooking the country side.
The restaurant offers 2 different menus. “Erroak” (‘roots’ in Basque) menu focuses on the classic dishes of Azurmendi, while the “Adarrak” (‘branches’ in Basque) menu focuses on dishes that are new and seasonal. We opted for the Adarrak menu, an experience that was ingeniously divided into “Four Acts”.
First Act: Welcoming Picnic
Our dining experience begins in the spacious Atrium surrounded by plants, tree trunks, and waterfalls where a picnic basket and glasses of the Spanish Basque white wine, Txakoli welcomed us.
Second Act: The Kitchen
For the next part of our Azurmendi experience, we were led by our host into the kitchen for a tour and also, for our next bite.
Third Act: The Greenhouse
After the kitchen, our host led us into the Greenhouse where our next bites were hiding among the plants.
Fourth and Final Act: The Dining Room
After the picnic, the kitchen and the greenhouse, the final act of our dinner begins in the main dining room.
The entire experience at Azurmendi embodied elegance, refinement, and discipline. What sets Chef Eneko Atxa apart from the rest is that he is a master at intertwining his creativity with the traditions and deep understanding of his Basque identity. He respects the purity of the ingredient so flavours are not lost, but rather elevated.
Chef Eneko has a skillful way of accentuating a single ingredient and presenting it in a graceful juxtaposition of different textures and preparations. Every single component of the dish had a delicious purpose, and was never out of place. The Chef has a meek a sense of precision and constraint that enables him to achieve the perfect balance without over complicating his dishes.
The service at Azurmendi was outstanding! The staff and everyone we encountered were attentive and friendly. Despite the high accolades of this restaurant, we never felt any sense of pretense or coldness from the staff, but rather an ambiance that was calming and welcoming.
Towards the end of the meal, Chef Eneko approached our table to say hello and to see how we were doing. I had nothing but marvelous things to say to him about this experience. The Chef was very humble, a character a highly admire! Above all, I sincerely thanked the Chef for taking us on one of the best gastronomic journeys of a lifetime.
An experience at Azurmendi is a must if you ever visit the Basque Country. For now, I will be dreaming for the day when I can come back and experience the magic once again.
Azurmendi’s Commitment to Sustainability
The restaurant prides itself on being sustainable. We learned that they grow their own vegetables and crops by collecting and recycling rainwater. They also use solar panels and geothermal methods to produce energy. Not only can they create exquisite food, but they are environmentally conscious, making their concept and mission highly admirable! With their commitment to sustainability, they have been awarded by The Most Sustainable Restaurant in the World by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Legina Auzoa, s/n, 48195 Larrabetzu, Bizkaia, Spain