Ametsa with Arzak Instruction 22

COMO The Halkin, 5 Halkin Street , London, SW1X 7DJ

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SquareMeal Review of Ametsa with Arzak Instruction

If Ametsa’s dining room looks a little clinical with its test tubes of spices undulating in the ceiling, that’s no coincidence – there’s a meticulous, almost scientific approach to gastronomy here. But it’s also worth taking notice of the poppies etched on the mirrors because the cooking has a boundary-pushing, dreamlike quality, intended to astound more than just the taste buds. The menu describes its dishes in a florid style – ‘scallops leaving home’, ‘tuna with cinnamon on fire’ and ‘sea bass with celery illusion’ – and they all deliver “incredible artistry” and Michelin-starred “wows” galore. A dessert of orange toast with spinach has a perfect balance of sweetness and acidity to round off the meal. “Fantastically knowledgeable staff” get their share of plaudits, while the sommelier is “informative and spot-on” when it comes to the Spanish-biased wine list. “Pure theatre”.


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7.9

Food & Drink: 8.3

Service: 8.9

Atmosphere: 6.9

Value: 6.9

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Nicola T. bronze reviewer 06 June 2016

We had the pleasure of dining at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction on Fri 10 June, we opted for the lunchtime tasting menu, we are not disappointed! It was pure theatre from start to finish, wonderful food, combinations you would not think of putting together, a really interesting and varied menu which kept us guessing. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the staff were fantastic, attentive without being too overbearing. I cannot wait to book my next visit! Thank you so much to the Ametsa team, what a fabulous way to spend a Friday afternoon!

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Katherine R. 06 April 2016

I was recently taken to Ametsa somewhere I hadn't been before and I have to say I was blown away. From the moment we arrived at the perfectly discreet and warm environment of the Halkin in which Ametsa sits the evening was a wonderful journey. The staff are without a doubt some of the most knowledgeable I've come across with the perfect mix of being friendly, warm and informative. The food is the main highlight though, if you opt for the tasting menu (which I highly recommend) you are led through 8 courses of incredible artistry by the chefs, the presentation is a real wow factor and what I loved was that there was still enough on your plate which is not always the case with tasting menus and fine dining! Each course was expertly paired with a selection of Spanish wines, personally I normally find sommeliers to be a bit over bearing but Jose was fun, informative and was spot on with his recommendations! It mentions in the overview being sky high prices but I thought the tasting menu was actually really good value for money and I noticed that the lunch menu was only £27,50 for two courses (want to come back when I'm paying) Would highly recommend and is somewhere unique to London.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Rebecca L. gold reviewer 25 August 2015

I'll start by saying I haven't ever really had Spanish food that wasn't your average tapas fare so I was excited to see what it could be like when refined. I wasn't disappointed at all but more importantly, everything about Ametsa is excellent. The service in particular is a highlight. The staff are warm, friendly and welcoming. They seem genuinely excited about the menu. Even the wine list is friendly - I know a fair bit about wine but am always overwhelmed when I go to a restaurant and am handed an Argos catalogue style wine list. Here, there are suggestions, such as 'if you like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc...' It's a nice touch. Now for the food - it's great, really great. I knew it would be when we served our bread and olive oil which was of superb quality. The amuse bouche was fun, inventive and delicious. My starter, Scallops at Home’ were gorgeous in terms of taste and an absolute work of art in terms of presentation. I had Suckling Pig for main with pork scratching which again, was beautifully cooked and presented. For dessert I had Chocolate and Fruit Marbles which was the highlight of the meal. I’ve never been a huge fan of mixing fruit and chocolate but this was a triumph. Everything is so simply titled and in theory, constructed, but really delivers on taste and presentation. There’s so much thought that’s gone into the flavours and there’s nothing on the plate that shouldn’t be there. I absolutely love the interior and decor of the restaurant – very modern, sleek and moody but with character at the same time. If that wasn't enough, for 3 courses, with wine, our bill was a very reasonable £100 a head. My only issue would be that we were sat near a very large table of people – I understand they have a private dining room so would recommend large groups are seated in there so they’re not disturbing other diners. Not a huge issue for us but might be for others.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 04 October 2014

Our reaction to Ametsa getting a Michelin star so soon after setting up in London was a touch cynical, so we were on the look-out for a let-down. However, this is the kind of restaurant where you just know you're going to enjoy it as soon as you are welcomed into the contemporary, stylish dining room; somehow it feels right, and the Red Guide was right. We were treated to a sequence of outstanding dishes served at just the right tempo and punctuated with instructive interchanges with the excellent staff, and a very well-chosen, all-Spanish wine flight. A Spanish friend had insisted that we must take the tasting menu, so, once we had had a quick look at what it had to offer, that's what we ordered, with a good Cava to start and to accompany the uniformly delicious canapés - scorpion in shredded pastry, stupendous cod truffle with porcini crumble, soft black pudding on a sunflower seed cracker, and parsley meringue with lovely duck purée. The superlatives continued as we discovered the wonderful starters - perfect scallops with a truffle sauce and enoki mushroom tempura; seared langoustine with a sweetcorn crisp for texture and taste balance, soaked red onion and red chard giving an artistic presentation to match the taste picture on the palate; and a moulded boiled egg with liquid yolk and powdered yolk crumbs scattered over it, a lip-smackingly good chistorra quenelle and a mushroom cigarillo - absolutely terrific! Our fish course of clearly very fresh John Dory was excellent with cauliflower and leek and the most fantastic beetroot tempura "bombs" which simply exploded in the mouth to release the hot beetroot sauce, a surprisingly good match with the fish. My wife tends to have fish instead of the meat course, and although her sea bass was top-class with garlic emulsion, fried leeks and leek ash, I couldn't help feeling that she had missed out as my meat main dish was some of the best pork I have ever had the pleasure of eating in the form of unbelievably tender and tasty suckling pig with lightly crunchy crackling, carob beans giving just a hint of chocolate and an olive and fig quenelle rounding off yet another winning combination. The pre-dessert of melt-in-the-mouth morello on tamarillo jelly and soaked in Patxaran was a terrific palate cleanser as well as being worthy of a place on the dessert menu proper. Both our desserts were truly memorable - first, a tent-like structure of large fried milk crisps with hints of cinnamon, understated pineapple ice cream to contrast with the milk and well-weighted clove custard, a veritable festival of tastes and textures, and, second, a signature dish amounting to a lesson in mathematical/molecular gastronomy, a mead fractal in which a red-coloured vodka style liquid is poured onto the mead base and it spreads to produce a snowflake pattern which you can only admire before dipping in a chocolate-covered lemon stick for an amazing yummy yet visual climax to a superb meal. But not quite, as we enjoyed blood orange marshmallows, chocolate cream cubes and spice cake with our coffee. This was what the late Michael Winner would have described as "historic", and we are adding Ametsa to our list of must-return-to venues.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 04 October 2014

Our reaction to Ametsa getting a Michelin star so soon after setting up in London was a touch cynical, so we were on the look-out for a let-down. However, this is the kind of restaurant where you just know you're going to enjoy it as soon as you are welcomed into the contemporary, stylish dining room; somehow it feels right, and the Red Guide was right. We were treated to a sequence of outstanding dishes served at just the right tempo and punctuated with instructive interchanges with the excellent staff, and a very well-chosen, all-Spanish wine flight. A Spanish friend had insisted that we must take the tasting menu, so, once we had had a quick look at what it had to offer, that's what we ordered, with a good Cava to start and to accompany the uniformly delicious canapés - scorpion in shredded pastry, stupendous cod truffle with porcini crumble, soft black pudding on a sunflower seed cracker, and parsley meringue with lovely duck purée. The superlatives continued as we discovered the wonderful starters - perfect scallops with a truffle sauce and enoki mushroom tempura; seared langoustine with a sweetcorn crisp for texture and taste balance, soaked red onion and red chard giving an artistic presentation to match the taste picture on the palate; and a moulded boiled egg with liquid yolk and powdered yolk crumbs scattered over it, a lip-smackingly good chistorra quenelle and a mushroom cigarillo - absolutely terrific! Our fish course of clearly very fresh John Dory was excellent with cauliflower and leek and the most fantastic beetroot tempura "bombs" which simply exploded in the mouth to release the hot beetroot sauce, a surprisingly good match with the fish. My wife tends to have fish instead of the meat course, and although her sea bass was top-class with garlic emulsion, fried leeks and leek ash, I couldn't help feeling that she had missed out as my meat main dish was some of the best pork I have ever had the pleasure of eating in the form of unbelievably tender and tasty suckling pig with lightly crunchy crackling, carob beans giving just a hint of chocolate and an olive and fig quenelle rounding off yet another winning combination. The pre-dessert of melt-in-the-mouth morello on tamarillo jelly and soaked in Patxaran was a terrific palate cleanser as well as being worthy of a place on the dessert menu proper. Both our desserts were truly memorable - first, a tent-like structure of large fried milk crisps with hints of cinnamon, understated pineapple ice cream to contrast with the milk and well-weighted clove custard, a veritable festival of tastes and textures, and, second, a signature dish amounting to a lesson in mathematical/molecular gastronomy, a mead fractal in which a red-coloured vodka style liquid is poured onto the mead base and it spreads to produce a snowflake pattern which you can only admire before dipping in a chocolate-covered lemon stick for an amazing yummy yet visual climax to a superb meal. But not quite, as we enjoyed blood orange marshmallows, chocolate cream cubes and spice cake with our coffee. This was what the late Michael Winner would have described as "historic", and we are adding Ametsa to our list of must-return-to venues.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Foodess platinum reviewer 20 March 2014

I liked everything about this restaurant from the style of cooking, the presentation, the very friendly attentive service, the décor with the myriad of spice-filled (apparently) test tubes suspended from the ceiling which adds a fun element to an otherwise elegant and very comfortable room. Oh and I had better mention the food. The tasting menu attracted attention, which I thought consisted of 5 courses but actually turned out to be 8 with a generous John Dory dish which was not my favourite. Prior to this I was in Lobster Heaven billed as being served with White Olive Oil and I must return just to experience this again. Even my fish and seafood averse partner enjoyed the lobster, so I struggled to even filch some extra succulent pieces from his plate. The 3 canapé reminded me of L'Enclume style (except 4 fewer), with 2 out of the 3 scoring pretty highly. The two desserts were excellent. We opted for a very good bottle of red which equated to the value of a wine flight each. Value? Maybe a bit heavily priced.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Nevine H. silver reviewer 25 November 2013

We chose the tapas lunch menu with is good value for high quality tapas including an excellent main course and petit fours with coffee. Slightly dissappointed in that we did not sample the more experimental type food I would have liked to tried, even one thing small just to make me want to come back for more! Service was good until we were trying to get attention to ask for the bill. Room is a bit sterile.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 2.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 02 June 2013

To start with the conclusion (sorry for ruining the suspense), what a disappointment given all the expectations around this new opening. In fact this was one of the most hyped about new openings in recent times OK so to go along in full order and details. It starts off with one of the most underwhelming dinning room atmospheres as of late. What an awful design and layout which makes most airports or train stations almost cosy and inviting by comparison. The service is actually rather nice and tries to be helpful. Now to the main part, the food: not that it would be bad but you feel rather underwhelmed by the dishes. Also while it should be about the taste, some dishes look better in their “raw” presentation than the final product. As example there is an egg to chicken dish which looks pretty, tastes quite good as well but once mixed up (as suggested) looks like a total mess and kitchen disaster rather than a high-end dish. As a side note – while the tasting menu (which I assume most people will go for at their initial visit) is very pricey for what is ok but not outstanding food, the wine pairing seems good value at first glance (around £40 surcharge). But be aware, as this turns into a bit of extra money spinner as they don't serve separate wines with each course but rather have some wine meant to last for several courses (but not neccessarily telling you that upfront so you end up ordering extra or be without wine). Overall I have to confess that I was expecting a lot more and left the evening rather unimpressed and unlikely to return. A shame as you do get at times a glimpse of what this place could be – and that would have been a worthy addition to the dinning scene in London

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 0.0

Will F. bronze reviewer 23 May 2013

There was a mix up with my Ledbury booking so this was suggested to me as a viable alternative. I remembered reading the fanfare of press about it pre-launch and thought it would be a good alternative for my client dinner. I should have been sceptical as I managed to get a table for 7 with a weeks’ notice. Post booking, I read the rather scathing reviews which I generally dismiss as they are critiqued at launch before the initial teething problems are ironed out. We all chose the tasting menu of 7 courses, excluding canapés. At £105 a head this is the same price as The Ledbury, which I adore, and by contrast has 2 Michelin stars, so in this price bracket I was expecting a lot. I should caveat my last statement by saying we had the tasting menu with wine which, at £145, is cheaper than the £175 at The Ledbury but the food is the same price so I will compare apples with apples. Nothing could really be faulted for being badly cooked, over or under seasoned, cold or so on, but similarly nothing in the 7 courses had any kind of wow factor – this includes their signature “Egg to Chicken” dish. In conclusion, fair, but for the price go elsewhere.

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Private Dining Room
Capacity: 30

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction is included in the following SquareMeal lists