This is part 9 of the series on San Sebastian, Girona, and Barcelona, Spain. Other parts of this series (as they become available) can be found at this link.
Note to self – don’t book two long tasting meals in one day while in San Sebastian. You will regret it.
We had already had pintxos two nights in a row. Even though the pintxos in San Sebastian are excellent, the area where they are located is not large, and it’s easy to get a pretty good sense of pintxos after a couple days eating your way through them.
So, we took the risk of booking a newly minted hot new restaurant in San Sebastian, Amelia. Amelia’s chef-owner Chef Paulo Airaudo was born in Argentina to Italian immigrants and has worked in many well-known places such as Arzak, The Fat Duck, and Magnolia in Italy.
The cuisine at Amelia San Sebastian is international but focuses on seasonal and sustainable ingredients together with biodynamic wines. The restaurant mostly works with small, local producers for the food, even showing on a map (on the back of the menu) the various locations throughout Spain from which the raw ingredients originated. Though most ingredients come from Spain, a small handful of specialty ingredients come from other regions, such as Pecorino and EVOO from Italy and caviar from Denmark.
Amelia, named after Chef Airaudo’s daughter Amélie, has seating for 22 diners and only serves tasting menus. The small, cozy dining space is beautifully decorated with a modern, Scandinavian style. At the same time, Darth Vader, storm troopers, Mario, and other fun, playful themes appear all over the restaurant. It’s clear that Chef Airaudo is a kid at heart and is not afraid to showcase his favorite characters. In fact, they even appear in some of the dishes . . .
If I had to come up with one word to describe the food at Amelia, I would say “sauce.” Chef Airaudo loves making different sauces, and there was a sauce poured table-side in virtually every single one of the dishes.
In general, the meal felt French in style yet made with Spanish ingredients. Aside from the first few courses, the overall meal skewed on the heavy side, with liver pate, roasted bone barrow, chicken, and lamb comprising a portion of the courses.
My favorite course was Txipirones en su tinta, this fantastic squid ink filled soup ravioli. The texture of the exterior was a perfect, chewy al dente, and I loved how the inside liquid “popped”, sort of like an umami-filled Chinese soup dumpling, but Italian!
I also loved the sourdough and the delicious (Mario-shaped) butter, which turned out to be my downfall because I ate so much of it that I was pretty full halfway through the meal.
The most interesting dish was the “Barcelo” imperial rum ice cream, Oscietra caviar, and avocado mousse. The server told us to try each element separately first, and then mix them all together. Although each element was delicious, the combination worked surprisingly. We were all delightfully surprised how the sweet and slightly bitter rum, creamy avocado, and salty caviar came together so well.
Although I was so, so stuffed (remember, we had lunch at Mugaritz that day), I still coudn’t help but finish the lemon tart even though I meant to just “have a taste.” I loved its delicate crispy shell and intense, bright lemon flavor.
All in all, we enjoyed our meal at Amelia. I regret not being hungrier. It was so hard to have to leave behind some portions of several courses because I was just so full already.
However, we were glad to have had the opportunity to try Chef Airaudo’s creative work.
It’s an amazing dream to be able to find a city you love, open up a restaurant, achieve a Michelin Star in such a short amount of time, and continue to bring happiness to so many new diners on an international stage.
Congratulations Chef! May the force be with you here in San Sebastian!
Amelia San Sebastian
Calle Prim, 34
2006 San Sebastian