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.