Lasarte was a complete surprise for me, MD had arranged it all in secret and whilst my initial reaction to lunch at a 3 michelin star restaurant the day before the worlds number 3 restaurant was “seriously?”, I only had to open the menu to understand the temptation. Lasarte happens to be Martin Berasategui’s Barcelona outpost, whose namesake restaurant in San Sebastian is one of our most memorable dinners. In the fine dining sphere it can often be difficult to find food that is both eyebrow-raising intellectual and lip-smackingly tasty, but Berasetegui achieved just that with his impossibly light and flavourful foams. So, with the expectations set, on to the food!
I’ll start with the butter (the second reason MD wanted to come here)…
Five butters are served; salted, mushroom, tomato, basil and beetroot. All are delicious and if they get boring there is always the cold pressed Spanish olive oil. My favourite was the tomato, which resembled an intense gazpacho.
Fresh bread was wheeled out and sliced at the table.
Teamed with cava, appetisers began with warm sweetbread in tempura with a sharp citrus gel.
A stunning caviar topped bite was subtle and herbaceous, served with spicy twizzles that had chew and crunch.
And a light crisp with prawn, green tomato cream and caraway stuck down with citrus glue and topped with a lemony floral garnish.
The wine-pairing list was presented to us in a handwritten notebook. After brief evaluation though we decided on a bottle of the Clos Mogador which was served with grand showmanship (including a second wheelbarrow!).
Then we had a ‘deja-vu’ moment with this dish from the San Sebastian restaurant millefeulle sandwich with caramelized fois gras, smoked eel and green apple. Sugar, citrus, fish all come together in a vibrant crunch!
Cucumber mayonnaise of mousse texture with jalapeno and razor clams was served in a little pot exploding with flavour.
Light creamy expansive cauliflower foam with black garlic smothers scallops and a perfectly runny quail’s egg.
Crayfish and swede with pork shank broth cubes and lemon in foam form and cubes of lemon jelly was literally joy in my mouth.
Thinly sliced Iberia presa ham (favourite dish perhaps?) was salty and sweet with the texture of wagyu on foie-gras curd was really tasty but together with the ice cold diced tamara oyster was divine. Recommended to be rolled up with the mustard ice cream.
A return of the fantastic foam for the final fish course; sea bass with mantis shrimp broth, snails stew on a vegetable puree with truffle and clams mayonnaise. The plump garlicky snails played beautifully off the earthy mushroom flavours.
The main course was a seriously generous sized (for tasting menus) plate of grilled Ox fillet, on a bed of chard and cheese bon bons. The meat was from Galicia and incredibely soft with a slightly chargrilled edge. The bon bon, a perfect sphere with the texture of béchamel, all tied together with the green vegetables.
The first dessert was mandarin frozen cream with verbena powder, orange jelly and pearls of lemon. It was all the lightness and freshness that you would want from your first sweet.
Second was a surprising yet obvious combination of fermented black garlic and coffee, juxtaposing this bitter intersection was sharp sweet raspberry and rich cocoa. Why not?
Tea doesn’t always get a mention on these posts, but tea isn’t always treated with such mastery as at Lassarte. Presented on the wheelbarrow, the leaves are steeped to a timer of gold beads in liquid. The result is a luxurious delicate fragrant tea.
After service we were shown the kitchen, and met the chef Paolo Casagrande. I asked him the secret to the out-of-this-world foams and he replied ‘it’s simple, you know what a carrot is? Well…’ and then he lost me. But I’m glad he thinks it is simple because that can only mean more next time!
From the food to the service (and the Jo Malone stocked loos), the third Michelin star was very well deserved.