Code de Vino rating – 5 stars
Location: Larrabetzu, Basque Country, Spain
Author: Vasily Prytkov
When first introducing the Azurmendi restaurant, it’s hard to not use the word «special,» as it fits here better than anywhere else. Firstly, the restaurant’s quality is acknowledged with three (!) Michelin stars, which alone isn’t easy to come by. The restaurant’s Chef Eneko Atxa successfully combines traditional Basque with an ultra-modern author’s cuisine. And these aren’t just hollow words: Eneko uses ultrasound in his cooking to change the texture of foods, as well as an original flavor and essence capturing system.
Although opened just recently, the restaurant has already earned universal recognition among professionals, and has made its way into various ratings of the world’s leading restaurants. The secret here is in the restaurant market’s newest trend: the supremacy of environmental concerns and overall «naturalness,» paired with ideal quality and service.
One of Azurmendi’s trademarks is not just the use of top-notch local agricultural products, but the fact that it has its own greenhouses used to grow the food used in its dishes.
The restaurant also uses state-of-the-art technologies to conserve energy and protect the environment in its design and architecture. From water storage tanks, solar panels, geothermal heating, PV sets for power generation and recycled building materials, to sockets for electric vehicles, it has everything it needs to be in harmony with nature. Senor Atxa refers to environmental concerns as the basic concept of the restaurant. All this is combined with a concern for the local culture, as the restaurant operates a research center that researches and preserves the endangered species of local vegetables. In other words, welcome to the best restaurant in the world! Now, first things first.
Eneko Atxa is the No. 1 mind behind Azurmendi. He was born in Basque Country and knows all the ins-and-outs of the local cuisine. After becoming a professional chef at the age of fifteen, he studied with the famous Martín Berasategui and earned his third Michelin star back in 2012.
Eneko’s philosophy can be expressed in a single word «harmony»: in his works he seeks to combine his cultural roots, traditional Basque recipes and modern tech and tools. Eneko uses ultrasound to change the textures of his dishes, and this is just one of the world’s most advanced technologies in constant use at Azurmendi. Eneko said about his restaurant: «the distinguishing feature of Azurmendi is our land, the way we understand and spread the values everyone here shares by having the same home.»
At Azurmendi, guests enjoy traditional Basque cuisine with a modern twist. The menu features meat, fish and seafood dishes, as well as fruits and vegetables grown right there in the restaurant. We recommend visitors to try cornbread ravioli with Betizu and bean juice, chopped cod with leek and homemade sausage, and the Arraño bean soup.
Another notable feature of the restaurant is its partnership with the well-known local bodega Gorka Izagirre. The wine list includes such prominent items as Gorka Izagirre, G22, Arima, as well as the wine Eneko Atxa contributed to himself – 42 by Eneko Atxa – a traditional Basque Chakoli, matured in French oak barrels.
The building housing the restaurant deserves special attention. Built on a hill surrounded by the Basque mountains by the famous architect Iñaki Aspiazu, this structure of glass, steel, wood and stone blends both tradition and modernity, with a healthy dose of advanced eco-friendly tech. The restaurant is surrounded by vineyards with indigenous grape varieties, which are also used to make wines served in the restaurant. An elegant and practical interior provides a comfortable dining experience, and is tastefully decorated. Guests enjoy rustic scenery at the table on the terraces, or in the dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Visitors can also enjoy the gardens and greenhouses, where fruits and vegetables for the local table are grown.
2015 brought Azurmendi the highest recognition imaginable, when Elite Traveller magazine named the restaurant No. 3 among the best restaurants in the world, and the Opinionated about Dining rating conferred Azurmendi the title of best restaurant in the Old World. This rating is made up of more than 160,000 reviews from 4,500 individuals. It is interesting to note that the year before, the restaurant ranked just 19th, and before that wasn’t even listed in the top 100, so what we are dealing with is a real breakthrough. In addition, in 2014, Azurmendi received an award for its commitment to sustainable development as one of the most eco-friendly restaurants. What’s the secret of this success? True genius is simple, and Azurmendi is the ultimate standard for a modern restaurant, with its ideal quality, reliance on tradition and use of cutting-edge technologies.
Corredor del Txorierri, salida no. 25, 48195 Larrabetzu, Bizkaia
Phone: +34 944 558 866