Purveyors of spectacular molecular gastronomy Juan Mari and Elena Arzak – the father and daughter team behind San Sebastián’s three-Michelin-starred Arzak – are setting a sprightly foot in London this spring. Their new Basque restaurant, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, opens on Friday March 8 at The Halkin by Como, on the hallowed ground previously occupied by the highly acclaimed Thai restaurant Nahm.
Booking opens at 9am on Friday February 22 for the first international outpost of Arzak, which is ranked number eight on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and has long been a place of pilgrimage for gourmands seeking avant-garde adventure.
Elena Arzak, voted 2012 Veuve Cliquot World’s Best Female Chef, will be among the five-strong team – together with her father, Mikel Sorazu, Igor Zalakain and Xabier Gutierrez – who will deliver the “new Basque cuisine” that has brought Arzak so much success. While a certain amount of British-sourced produce will be on the menu, its heart will be firmly Basque, with typically earthy flavours, and dishes of hake with cockles, cod, calamari and ox cheek with vanilla.
The surroundings promise to be as impressive as the food. Created by AB Rogers Design, 7,000 glass containers will hang above diners’ heads. They are part sculpture, part chandelier and filled with vividly coloured spices, which represent a key element of Arzak’s cuisine. Along one mirrored wall are engraved illustrations of these spices.
“Ametsa”, says Elena Arzak, “means ‘dream’ in our language – the dream of a kitchen beyond our frontiers, in the middle of London.” And Londoners themselves will contribute, mouthful by mouthful, to making the reverie a reality.