We stopped in Zarautz while on our way to San Sebastián specifically because we wanted to visit this restaurant: we were really curious to have a launch at Karlos Arguiñano's restaurant. I guess the popularity and the sympathy of this cook played a significant part in our decision. I discovered his television cooking show when I moved to Spain 7 years ago and I always appreciated his fun personality and recipes targeted to "normal people" cooking at home. His restaurant reflects Karlos' personality: just enter the restaurant and have look and the drawing hung in the bar. If you know something about Karlos' sense of humour, you'll understand. On the food side, the restaurant is not a gourmet restaurant aspiring to a niche popularity among affluent people or foodies. Quite the contrary: the recipes are simple and meant to exalt excellent raw materials and the prices are balanced. Overall, I'd say the quality/price ratio is good.
The restaurant is very nice and never pretentious. The personnel is amazingly friendly and attentive. The restaurant is located in a privileged position almost in the middle of Zarautz's windy beach and, if the weather allows, taking a coffee and some dessert in the outdoor terrace is a very nice experience. I found it particularly relaxing.
Here you are in the Basque Country: in my opinion the part of Spain offering the finest cuisine and the best fish you can find. So, even though I'm not particularly fond of fish, I had the tasting menu with no hesitation: it features an Albacore tuna salad, vegetable ravioli with Basque "Porrusalada" (a traditional Basque leek soup), hake, Iberian pork sirloin and sponge cake with infusion of red berries. This menu was a nice introduction to the Basque cuisine made with first quality raw materials. I agree with another reviewer's opinion about the Txakoli (a Basque very dry, slightly sparkling, white wine): it guess it's not for everybody's tastes, especially if it's the first time you try it.
Some days after having this meal, going back to Madrid from San Sebastian, we decided to stop in Zarautz once again to enjoy some of pintxos on the restaurant's terrace. The pintxos were very good but the real surprise were the desserts: excellent and unexpected. I loved the deep fried croissant filled with crème pâtissière and the torrija.
I gave this restaurant 5 stars because nothing fell short of expectations: the meal was very good, the raw materials were excellent, the staff friendly, attentive and unobtrusive and the location very nice. Could it be better? Of course, pretty much like everything, but that's not the point. The point here is the overall quality/price ratio: excellent.
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