San Sebastián’s only five-star hotel, the belle époque Hotel Maria Christina, was designed by French architect Charles Mewes in 1912. Fast forward to 2017 and French chef Hélène Darroze will be redesigning the menus for a three-month pop-up starting on July 1.
The area is familiar territory for the multi-Michelin-starred cook (two at The Connaught in London; one at her eponymous restaurant on Paris’s Left Bank), not only because she is back in the Basque country by popular demand following a similar residency at the hotel (from €600 per night) last year, but also because she grew up just over the border in the Landes region of southwest France and spent many family holidays in San Sebastián.
For this summer’s pop-up, which runs until October 15, Darroze and her team will be serving lunch (€59) on Friday to Sunday, and dinner (from €98) – including a seven-course “inspiration” menu (€180) – every day except Tuesday. The accents will be on local ingredients, with dishes including tandoor-roasted spiced prawns served with carrot and citrus confit mousseline, and grilled Txuleta beef from Gallice with black truffles, pont neuf potatoes and bordelaise sauce, paired with Rioja and Ribera wines.
There will also be roast chicken from Darroze’s native Landes, stuffed with ceps mushrooms, and served with fondant aubergine. And adding an extra Darroze element into the desserts, the Armagnac baba will be soaked in spirits from Bas-Armagnacs Darroze, of which her oenologist brother Marc is president.
“San Sebastian is foodie paradise”, says the chef. “From Michelin star restaurants to the daily La Bretxa Market via myriad pintxos and tapas bars.” Add Hotel Maria Christina to that list this summer, and, if in Paris from September, head over to her Left Bank restaurant, where these San Sebastián dishes will be joining the menu.