I was fortunate enough to have been gifted a voucher for a 3 course fine dining meal at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction. The name is a little odd, and with the price tag of the meal, this isn’t a restaurant that I’d normally pick myself. However the artistic and elegant feel of Ametsa instantly wowed me when I entered the restaurant. I particularly liked the ceiling that comprised of hundreds of tubes filled with spices. Not surprising since it was designed using inspiration from the original Arzak restaurant in San Sebastian in Spain, which holds 3 Michelin stars!
Situated inside the Halkin Hotel in Belgravia, Ametsa is a collaboration between Elena Arzak (voted Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef in 2012) along with her father Juan Mari Arzak. But critics’ reviews say whilst the daughter-father duo are heavily involved with the restaurant, they’re not the ones who are actually in the kitchen cooking the food.
Despite all this, I kept an open mind when reviewing the food on offer.
Tomato and Raspberry Soup
This was beautifully presented with mussels and pomegranate carefully laid in the bowl, then the soup is poured into your bowl at the table. Once I tucked in, I got the shock of a lifetime – the soup was cold! It was a bit weird, but it tasted exactly how it was titled.
Prawns with Hemp
Butterflied prawns perfectly grilled, then topped with a crispy sesame brittle. There was a good balance of different textures on this dish. I liked the pieces of fruit on the plate as it was very refreshing and helped cut through the saltines from the hemp prawns.
Red Pork on Bamboo
Who doesn’t love a good succulent piece of belly pork?! These were super tender and served with a rich gravy and crispy cassava. I just wish there was more on the plate.
Chicken and Seeds
This comprised of 2 chicken drumsticks, deep fried to get that crispy skin, and served with chicken jus, a sticky balsamic sauce and horseradish aioli. I don’t think the stack of seeds was a good pairing with the chicken as it was really hard and therefore made it really unpleasant to eat with the tender chicken drumsticks.
Hake with Bronzed Onion
This was probably the least exciting dish of the whole meal. The piece of hake was really tasty, and I always love a good meaty piece of white fish. But the “bronze onion” was just a piece of onion skin. I wasn’t convinced of it’s purpose. I also didn’t like the thin broth as it just downed everything without adding much flavour.
This was my favourite dish of the meal. Not only because of it’s pretty presentation, but also because it had a really cool surprise. After taking a million pictures of it, I smashed into the chocolate shelled doughnut to reveal the yummy apple filling. Fun and tasty at the same time.
Sadly this dish was style over substance. It was a pyramid of coloured rice paper, which hid a small mound of crème patisserie and a little sponge crumble. It was then served with a berry sauce. Looked good, but the taste wasn’t anything mind blowing.
So in conclusion, would I recommend Ametsa? Yes, but only if you manage to find a decently priced voucher. It’s sad that Ametsa lost it’s Michelin star, but this may be due to some of the dishes tasting quite average. With the artistic feel that runs through the restaurant and into the food, it’s a place where you’d eat with your eyes. I saw other diners order a la carte and their dishes did look nice, but if the flavours were hit and miss like the dishes I had, then it wouldn’t be worth breaking the bank balance for.
Address: COMO The Halkin, London, 5-6 Halkin St, London SW1X 7DJ
Phone: 020 7333 1234
Opening times: Monday 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Tuesday to Saturday 12 – 2pm and 6:30pm – 9:30pm, Sunday closed