Chef Adoni Luis Aduriz
# 7 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2016
Visited: October 14th, 2016 – Lunch Service
Expectations and hype can affect ones experience, as it did to ours. Out of all the restaurants that we visited in Spain, our experience at Mugaritz was sadly our least favourite. This restaurant is by no means short of many accolades including being on the The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list many times and 2* Michelin rating.
Restaurant Mugaritz is known to the culinary world as the center of creativity and innovation. Every year, the restaurant closes for a couple of months to focus on research and development of food, and to come up with a new tasting menu. The tasting menu consisted of 25 meticulously prepared dishes meant to be eaten with our bare hands. The first thing I noticed was the lack of utensils on the dining table.
From San Sebastián, we took a scenic 15-minute taxi ride to Gipuzkoa. The restaurant is beautifully situated amongst trees and hills of the lovely Basque Country.
How can a highly-acclaimed restaurant not meet my expectation, you may ask? Before I answer that, I want to show the 25-course Tasting Menu in its entirety. Let me also say that I do truly admire and respect the work and passion that Team Mugaritz placed into their food. Also, I want to point out that the food was truly beautiful, minimalist, and a work of art.
The Tour of the Kitchen
Touring the kitchen is something that I always look forward to, when invited, as it gives me a glimpse of the heart of the restaurant.
Mignardises of “The Seven Deadly Sins”
After 25 courses and 7 different Mignardises of what seem to be a beautiful tasting menu, I can now tell you about my thoughts on this restaurant.
First, let me talk about the food. As I stated earlier, I have the outmost respect for the time and passion that Chef Adoni and his team placed into conceptualizing the food that they create here. Also, I was impressed by the level of creativity with each food, as it was evident that they put a lot of thought into every single dish. Out of the 25 courses, there were only few dishes that stood out to me, namely the Sea Urchin and the Caviar dish. The rest were forgettable. In my humble opinion, I believed that a lot of science, precision and thinking might have masked the identity of the ingredient as the flavours were simply lost. For example, the Foie Gras dish in macerated blueberries was just unappetizing as it was cold and too acidic. Also, the raw squid with the Mole sauce unfortunately did not work well together. I personally enjoy raw squid in my Omakase adventures, and I also make my own Mole sauce from scratch, but with this dish, I did not get the thought behind the flavour combination at all.
Secondly, let me talk about the service. Having dined at numerous restaurants of this caliber, you cannot help but to have great expectations. Majority of the Front of the House staff delivered a service that was cold and distant. I was not expecting them to smother us with attention, but I felt that they were not attentive at all. From my observation, I felt that the restaurant had too many diners making the staff appear to be running around. There were exactly three instances that I have to ask my water to refilled, as they keep our water on a separate table nearby but not close enough for us to reach. Also, they were three instances our wine pairings were poured minutes later after our dishes arrived. At the end of our meal, one of the hosts asked us how everything went, and politely we told him about our discords with the food and service. What I appreciated the most was the time our host took in listening to the discontentment of our experience. Our host expressed that he was very apologetic in behalf of this team and that they aspire to learn from our experience.
As I reflect on this experience, I once again realized that taste is very subjective and polarizing as I personally know people who loved their experience at Mugaritz, and those that disliked it.
Aldura Aldea, 20, 20100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, Spain