Long gone are the times when grand restaurants meant rooms expanded to the size of a small system of caves; in the past few years, more and more restaurant are modest or small in size (places like Mizutani seat only 8 people). Sure, it could very well be the lack of funds when the restaurant is started (Aronia de Takazawa expanded from about 3 to 5 tables), but it also means more attention is given to an individual dish.
Huge stalagmites of what seemed to be spices hung from the ceiling (I have a less poetic interpretation of what they are), flowers nicely decorating the tables, and, despite the lack of a nice view from the window, the place seemed rather pleasant.
It was splurge time. I decided to go for the Lunch Tasting Menu (52 pounds) whilst the sister went for the lesser Set Lunch Menu (24.5 pounds). I was thoroughly excited, Christmas seemed to have come early for me, in the form of LOTS of food.
Ametsa is a Spanish restaurant, which meant, to my actual joy: Tapas! (tapas, in case you don’t know – no judgement, really, I find it too often that food blogs just throw words there without ever explaining what they mean so lots of people could very well never know what it means – are a sort of appetizers. They are generally quite good, the Spanish take their little foods quite seriously). The cauliflower thingie (cant figure out what it actually was), didn’t really taste like much. The fish cake was good, and so was the chorizo tapas, however didn’t really taste all that much of chorizo.
The tapas from the Set menu were much better. The soup had a nice mix of sweet and slightly sour, the red pepper was simply amazing – it seemed to be pickled and cooked in the oven, it had a great flavour. I personally enjoyed the black ink squid as well – it had a very interesting taste, albeit Ioana could not decide whether she likes it or not. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the iberico ham, but the sister seemed to enjoy it quite much.
The mains were very well cooked and seasoned. The tuna – raw on the inside – was served with very ingenious little onions that had the inside layers replaced with what seemed to my tongue to be mango. It snuck up on you like a very pleasant surprise, like when someone sneaks behind you and starts massaging your shoulders (I should stop thinking about this or I am in danger of reminding myself of my extremely failed love life).
The beef was moist and soft, the passion fruit (passion, again, reminding me of how I will die alone surrounded by cats) being one that didn’t let you down (unlike many other instances in which it will undoubtedly do so). The added sweetness was nice and playful. I cannot comment on the duck much as I was too busy not being able to eat any more because I was (sad and alone) full from all the other dishes I had to eat.
However, I must say that the highlight of the day were the desserts. You can glean from all the other dishes that Ametsa has an imaginative, ingenious character. Yet the desserts were truly a work of art. The french toast is actually a sort of coconut cream – thicker, more solid – wrapped in a thin layer of mango with caramelized sugar on top. It really does look like french toast but it tastes like heaven! (i love coconut).
The other dish – forgot its name – is supposed to look like eggs. The transparent liquid is made from champagne (it does even taste a tad bit alcoholic), and then the white things that are the eggs have all sorts of things inside. I know, it sounds really stupid, but I could not understand how they managed to make them. Some seemed to have mandarin in them, and they were absolutely delicious again.