Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lasarte, Barcelona

Lasarte, Barcelona (€205, 5/26/2018, 7- Course, incl. VAT)

Lasarte, another Martin Berasategui’s famous restaurant, opened its doors in January 2006, it took the name of the town (Lasarte, in the suburb of San Sebastian) where Chef Berasategui’s flagship restaurant is located. Lasarte restaurant has had its 3rd star since 2017, a controversial 2017 Michelin 3rd star recipient by many accounts.

Currently commanded by longtime Berasategui’s protégé Paolo Casagrande, located in one of Barcelona’s most expensive shopping areas, about 3 blocks from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. It has gone thru extensive rehabilitation in 2016, with the emphasis on light, textures with a predominance of oak and the selection of furniture. The thin strings of lights poking through the ceiling was exquisite, elegant and real classic. I thought the new look is probably one of the most beautiful, elegant restaurant setting that I have ever seen.

It is comprised of 3 sections of dining area, the main dining room, the semi-private dining room and Chef’s Table in a loft above the kitchen.

I have inquired the reservation department what is the difference between Lasarte (Barcelona) and Martin Berasategui (San Sebastian), and they could not give me an answer. Since I have visited Martin Berasategui on May 18, I decided to find out the answer myself.

There were two sets of Tasting Menus in addition to a la carte, I chose the smaller one “Lasarte Menu” for a 7-course meal with appetizers not indicated on the menu.


1). Tamara Oyster from Delta Eblo

Delta del Ebre is located halfway in between Catalonia and Valencia. It has the mixture of the sea with the fresh water from the Ebro water, which is very rich in nutrients. There are mussel’s beds to grow shell fish like oysters, mussels, clams. The combination of fresh water and sea water give these shell fish a distinctive flavor and texture. They don’t even need a drop of lemon juice. They are the prime quality.

It was covered by fried tempura and sea anemone (jelly fish), yuzu jelly and mayonnaise of yuzu.

2). White Toast with Prawn

Raw prawn was served on a crispy toast with green curry sauce and tomato cream. Prawn was fresh and juicy.

3). Beet Root with White Caviar

Beet root flavored tapioca was fried and served like a cracker at the bottom. White pearl is the nickname for the caviar harvested from very rare fresh albino (sterlet) sturgeon that are farmed in the pristine, pollutant-free waters of Northern Europe. It costs approximately $3000/lb. White caviar has a sweeter taste than the black/grey looking caviars. It was served with wasabi.

4). Fried Tapinamboer (Jerusalem Artichoke)

Originally the Jerusalem Artichoke grows in North America, a French explorer introduced it to the Europe. Root tubers (underground parts) are used, it contains a lot of nutrients. The taste of tuber can be slightly sweet, nutty and like artichoke. Jerusalem artichoke was cooked and meshed to purée and fried artichoke was shaped artistically as a crisp topped with artichoke purée, sashimi bits and chili pepper.

II. Mille-Feuille of Smoked Eel, Foie-Gras, Spring Onions and Green Apple

This is one of the signature dishes that Martin Berasategui had since 1995. It was not indicated on the menu and I inquired and was assured that I would get it as one of the appetizers.

I dearly love this item, it was so perfectly executed. Layers of sliced green apple, smoked tender and melting eel and foie gras, topped by a slice of caramelized apple mille feuille. Its tender smoked eel and well-balanced flavor make me feel that I have not had enough of it.

III. Foam Jalapeño and Razor Clalm

There were chopped cucumber and razor clam at the bottom, topped by yogurt (in yellow), rice sorbet, and Jalapeño razor clam juice foam. It was a delicious dish.

Lasarte offered a good selection of breads. It had bacon and onion bread like what Martin Berasategui had besides the other more ordinary bread types. I requested for only bacon and onion, served with 5 signature butter selection – beetroot, fungi, spinach, tomato and unsalted.  Lasarte’ bread cart has trenches in the cutting board so that the knife doesn’t crush the bread loaf. The main course will be followed.

1st Course - Slices of Iberian Presa on Foie-Gras Curd, Tamara Oyster and Mustard Ice Cream

Only the shoulder part of the Iberian pork Hamon was used, the slices were cured but not cooked. It was served with mustard ice cream, ginger cream, with hidden shaved frozen, in addition to Tamara oyster tartar and tomato. When oyster was fried in the 1st course of appetizer, I was wondering I would get the raw Tamara which was famous for its raw flavor. This dish was very innovative in its usage of Hamon, foie-gras and raw oyster tartar.

2nd Course - Smoked Squid Ink Risotto and Lemon Seafood

Risotto was served in squid ink with cockles clam, scallops, lemon zest, paprika, toasted bread and baby Swiss chard leaf. Both cockles clam and scallops were half raw, tender and tasty seafood.

3rd Course - Red Prawn on a Seabed, Fennel and Coral Emulsion

When I thought of Palamos red prawn, my mouth starts watering. It was so delicious, you can tell from its tender looking flesh its freshness and its distinctive appearance. Prawn was served along seaweed and sea grape with two types of sauce – coral cream in orange color and seaweed cream in green color. I wish Chef Casagrande had fully utilized prawns head to enhance the flavor.

4th Course - Virrey Fish with Crustaceous Sauce, King Crab, Raw Tomatoes and Saffron

This was the 1st time that I had Virrey fish, it has red skin and white flesh. There were 3 parts in this dish: 1). Delicious fish filet tasted almost like sole, cooked to perfection medium and topped with sautéed tomato, cucumber and iodized sauce from crustaceous ingredients. In addition, it was accented by powdered white basil flower. 2). King crab salad was accompanied by slightly cooked zucchini, zucchini sauce and saffron sauce (in orange) and topped by sautéed tomato, cucumber. 3). King crab roll wrapped by zucchini slice, served with zucchini sauce and slightly cooked zucchini, and topped by sautéed tomato, cucumber. In the middle of the plate, zucchini essence was spreaded to make a prettier presentation. Chef made great efforts on making this a sophisticated dish. 

5th Course - Charcoal Grilled Pigeon with White Asparagus, Spiced Sauce and Bianco Perla Corn

Pigeon was grilled to perfection at rare-medium with tenderness and charcoal flavored. It was served with puntarelle (white slice). Puntarelle refers to a part of a vegetable, namely the inner stalks of Catalonia chicory. In addition, there were other interesting vegetables on the plate – pickled cauliflower (in pink), corn sauce (in white), fennel, roasted white asparagus which was garnished by dried persimmon. Pigeon juice reduction was also served on the side.

6th Course – Ginger and Passion Fruit Sorbet with Coconut Carrot

It was a palate cleanser. The combination of passion fruit and ginger made this sorbet with a unique taste. It was refreshing, tasty and cleaned the palate for the next dessert. It was one of the better dishes in this meal.

Ginger and passion fruit sorbet was the large scoop in the center, served along with passion fruit cake, papaya foam (light yellow foam), carrot jelly (orange), papaya jelly (lighter orange), crunchy coconut, coconut powder and sliced coconut. I even had the thought of forgoing the next dessert for a 2nd serving of this sorbet.

7th Course – Almond and Salt Praline, Apricot and Rum Ice Cream

At the upper left corner, salty praline with almond (in light brown color) was a bit too sweet. However, rum ice cream was refreshing. In addition, caramel swirl at the right-hand side (in yellow) topped with white sugar toasted in oven and rum ice cream. White vanilla powder and apricot crunchies were accompanied in the plate, but, without improving the overall taste. Salty praline and caramel go together in one plate without any balancing ingredients made this dessert overwhelmingly too sweet.

Petit Fours

Petit fours were served in an elaborate multi-layered glass tray.

1). Giandujian – hazelnut and white chocolate covered by dark powdered sesame.

2). Vanilla cream with chestnut purée

3). Tiramisu sponge with coffee

They were all pleasant, but, not as extraordinary as what I had at El Celler de can Roca.

I visited Martin Berasategui at Lasarte, San Sebastian on 5/18 and visited Lasarte, Barcelona on 5/26, both are part of Martin Berasategui’s group and both are in the 3- Michelin star category. Martin Berasategui, San Sebastian, without of doubt, is in the upper tier of the 3-star category.

Lasarte, Barcelona, is a sophisticated restaurant that caters to the high-end fine dining business with a swanky and elegant dining room, and a lot of detailed work has been dedicated to food. However, among all the critical elements in the taste and flavor of all the dishes, it stands closer to the threshold of being a 3-star restaurant. After my meal at Lasarte, I fully understand the “controversy” when it won the 3rd star. Lasarte did coast on the new famed status. Another 3-star restaurant ABaC, (also won its 3rd star in 2017 in Barcelona) priced it Tasting Menu €155 vs €205 at Lasarte.

No comments:

Post a Comment