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“A true gastronomic experience but a little fine tuning required.”

Azurmendi Gastronomico
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Ranked #1 of 6 Restaurants in Larrabetzu
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: European, Spanish
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Restaurant details
Good for: Business meetings, Scenic view, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Romantic
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Validated Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Coventry, UK
Level Contributor
113 reviews
91 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 129 helpful votes
“A true gastronomic experience but a little fine tuning required.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed September 6, 2013

This restaurant attracted my attention by its rapid promotion from one to three Michelin Stars. Although Michelin list it in there Bilbao restaurants, it is actually a €30 taxi ride away from the Casco Viejo area of Bilbao in Larrabetzu.

There is more than one restaurant on the site, but the main gastronomic restaurant is higher on the hillside and towers over the older buildings. It is housed in a large steel and glass eco-friendly, very green building.

We, a party of five friends went for lunch mid-week in August. The visit starts with a tour of the very large spotless kitchens that employ some fifteen chefs.

The meal commences with a “Picnic in the Garden”, the garden being the vast plant filled entrance atrium of the gastronomic restaurant. Various delicacies are served from a picnic basket. We were all surprised not to be offered a drink with our picnic. Surely this would have been an ideal opportunity to serve a nice glass of well chilled Cava.

After the picnic we were ushered to our table in the main restaurant. This has a magnificent view across a valley. Two menus are offered, the more traditional Erroak at €135, and a more extensive modern menu Adarrak at €160, extremely cheap for this standard of food. We were given the option to exchange courses between the menus. As we had chosen the Adarrak menu and did not wish lose any items from this, they kindly added the “Betizu” from the Erroak menu at no extra charge.
I was hoping that there would be an option to have accompanying wines with each course. This to my way of thinking is a way of sampling some very good wines at a sensible price. However, this option did not exist and we chose from their extensive and well priced list. Strangely, there did not seem to be a sommelier. Nevertheless, we were extremely well looked after by pleasant, helpful and knowledgeable waiters who were most informative without being intrusive throughout our meal. It was truly yet another gastronomic experience, my only, not really a complaint. I was not too impressed with the bread.
We ended our lengthy lunch with coffee and digestives before being individuallypresented with a sealed copy of our menu. A very nice touch!

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank RnBrian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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The Hague
Level Contributor
118 reviews
58 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
“A true experience”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 31, 2013

This restaurant is arguably the most beautiful one we ever saw (although El Celler de Can Roca does pretty well too). After an adventurous drive through the hills with a taxi driver that refused to accept the website's driving directions (take exit 25 and you're almost there actually), we were immediately awed by the atmospheric, remarkably designed lounge. We had te great 'picnic' appetizers there before entering the dining room, which brings you into an entirely different place. With most of it being glass, we had incredible views of the surrounding landscape. We took the full tasting menu and enjoyed many different, innovative dishes, all of them a testament to the 3 Michelin stars that this restaurant acquired within 7 years of its existence. Excellent service, although a bit sloppy on refilling water and wine. Impressive kitchen area which occupies half of the restaurant space and they are most happy to show you around. The chef is charming and open and quite talkative. One of the greatest dining experiences we have had in quite a few years!

  • Visited July 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank RonT58
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Roedovre, Denmark
Level Contributor
66 reviews
66 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“World class”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 24, 2013

See full review and pictures at:

Overall rating: 9/10

Azurmendi still seems fairly unknown, but is known in some circles for going from one to two to three Michelin stars over the course of only five years – something that usually takes a lot longer.
Another thing that is worth noting is that they only serve dinner on Saturdays, if I’m not mistaken. Sunday they are closed, and the rest of the week they only serve lunch. It’s the same menu for both lunch and dinner, so it wouldn’t make any difference when you go (but work commitments of course might not allow for it).
Azurmendi is another one of those restaurants that were difficult to find. Our GPS couldn’t find the address, and if you don’t have a car or can get a taxi, forget about it. Although there were instructions on their website, a hint would be that when you come off the motorway there’s a roundabout, and you have to take the exit in the roundabout where there’s a sign with a knife and fork (it doesn’t say Azurmendi). Then later there’s a sign saying Azurmendi, but keep your eyes peeled. We missed this sign and drove all the way up the mountain.
When you do get to the restaurant, it’s quite a nice and modern place exuding a certain elegance, not unlike El Celler de Can Roca, although not quite as beautiful, but then it has a nice view.
We started off in the entrance with a few small snacks: Mushrooms and ham bonbon, and foie gras mousse with peanut. I was happy that the flavour of foie gras here was fairly absent and it only seemed to be to add texture. My wife instead had a lovely jelly with martini. Lastly, an intense infusion of onion (overall 8-8.5/10).

Then we were offered to see the kitchen, and the chef, Eneko Atxa, came to greet us, which he seemed to do to all the guests.
For the meal itself we were offered two menus; one for €135 and for €160 (no a la carte). Unfortunately, the menu didn’t say that the price was actually plus 10 % VAT, meaning either €148.50 or €176 in total each. We went for the cheap one, simply because those dishes appealed more to us. They also offered us to change some dishes, but the only one we ended up changing was the main course for my wife (she had lamb instead of pork).
First course was a crispy cornet with potato and truffles, and even better a warm egg yolk where they had sucked out a bit of it and then injected truffle into it. I’ve had truffles several times, and, except for truffle oil, I have been disappointed every time, as they simply never had any flavour. Therefore, it was a refreshing and spectacular sensation to finally have truffle that was the explosion of flavour I had so often heard about. Earthy notes and that refreshing and uplifting sensation (if not 10/10 then at least 9/10 but probably 10/10).

“The garden” was a tomato cream covered with crunchy dehydrated beetroot and a few small vegetables on top. The tomato cream was very nice and very similar to the one we had at Quique Dacosta, but although that one was an even more simple dish I nevertheless found that there was more magic in that dish than this one. The biggest problem, though, was that the vegetables on top simply didn’t have any flavour, which meant that the dish could have been wonderful but ended up being only good (7-7.5/10).

Lobster had been roasted and was served simply with a lovely tapenade of olives and anchovies – a combination that could easily have been dreadfully salty but surprisingly weren’t. The lobster itself had a lovely light barbecued flavour, although I felt this overpowered the flavour of the lobster itself just a little bit. Nevertheless, one of the best lobsters I’ve ever had (lobsters, like truffles, have often disappointed me) (9/10).

Lamb sweetbreads had been battered and then deep-fried and was served with cauliflower cream, cauliflower fritters, and small parcels contained garlic flavoured liquid. The sweetbreads would have been better for me if they hadn’t been battered and deep-fried (they seemed too much like something from a greasy spoon place), but the cauliflower cream was lovely. Cauliflower is one of those things that have never done anything for me, but this was surprisingly tasteful and easily the best I’ve ever had. The parcels were the best bit though, and seemed to me like a nod to the Spaniards love of alioli (mayonnaise with garlic) (8/10).

Beef shank was wrapped in corn bread and came with a sticky reduced braising sauce and a single herb sprig. This dish was heavy, rich and flavourful. Although I like that, this was simply too much. The sprig did give a bit of acidity, but was simply not enough (8/10). I did wonder why this dish came here rather than one or two courses later.

Tender grilled octopus was served with crispy onions and small croquettes of warm octopus ink. Really small explosions of flavour. A simple but nevertheless really nice dish where the octopus was good but not spectacular, and where the ink croquettes were not good but spectacular (8/10).

The main course was pork cooked for 24 hours at 70 degrees. It was served with crispy pork rind, crunchy breadcrumbs and a cream made of avocado and acorn, cleverly shaped like an avocado stone. They also put some “atmosphere” on the table:

The pork itself was very nice but simply not much different than any other slowly cooked pork I’ve had in similar restaurants. The other elements seemed mostly like textural contrasts to the main ingredient. Overall a nice dish but simply not quite as good as the ones before it (it was for instance far from the main course I had at Osteria Francescana) (7/10). My wife had lamb instead, and her dish was otherwise identical.

Then we went to the sweets. A small parcel arrived containing small bonbons of chestnut cream rolled in cocoa powder. It also came with a paper containing a small story about a chestnut tree. Chestnuts have mild flavour, but these particular ones were milder than usual. I find these difficult to score. Although I found them pleasant, they are simply not something I think back on (at best 7/10).

The proper dessert was a glass that was supposed to look like a cup of coffee: Firm coffee cream, rum jelly on top and milk foam at the top. When you compare this to the rest of the meal, this dish seemed overly simple – and that’s unfortunately not a compliment. We both felt that this dessert was simply too boring. The amount of coffee cream was simply also too much compared to the other two elements (there was four-five times as much coffee as rum), and I could only taste the coffee element when I combined it with the other elements (5/10).

Then three petit fours: Pastry with apple, a rice cake, and a chocolate bonbon with passion fruit (7/10)

What really impressed me about Azurmendi was the consistency. Dish after dish was at a very high level. I praise Sant Pau over and over again, but even there I had a couple of dishes that were significantly worse than the rest at both visits. That is only what can be expected. I wouldn’t expect every dish to be 10/10 to give a restaurant an overall rating of 10/10. That would be practically impossible. I was telling my wife during the meal that I would give Azurmendi my first 10/10 if they kept the same standard for the rest of the meal. So, there are actually only two reasons why I give them 9/10 instead: The dessert and the fact that I was starting to become just a little bit bored with the food shortly before the main course was served. My wife suggested the same score when the meal was over.
Although the food was modern and creative it never became stupid, and the concept was not to “explore” or “go on an adventure” like at Quique Dacosta. It was simply about good food cooked with the best techniques. In some ways I felt that this meal was what my meal at El Celler de Can Roca could have been but didn’t accomplish.

Then there was the service. It was indeed very good, but there were a few glitches. Topping up of water was far from flawless, we weren’t walked to/from the toilet, and the sommelier forgot to serve us the red wine for the beef dish. Sometimes they held our chair when we went to sit down and sometimes not. One waitress seemed to be quite sad and she had poor English (but she only took away our plates), while another one spoke English but far from perfect, but he seemed very warm. As you can see, all these are very minor issues, but they have nevertheless been absent in several other three-star places I have been to. Although the restaurant wasn’t full this day, they seemed a bit understaffed. As I started out by saying, the service was definitely very good, and we particularly liked the young waiter who greeted us at our arrival, as he seemed very warm and genuine. The chef also came out in the middle of the meal to speak to the guests, and he also seemed very warm and as if he was enjoying his job. When we saw the kitchen, there also seemed to be a relaxed atmosphere among the staff. Maybe just a tad too relaxed, as there was a bit too much waiting a few times, but this is seriously minor.
Then there was the price, and I have nothing but good things to say about this. At €148.50, the only similarly priced three-star restaurant in Spain has been Sant Pau (€146 at my first visit, and €149 at my second visit, where the Spanish VAT had risen from 8 % to 10 %). There was a long way from the €148.50 at Azurmendi to the €193 I paid at Arzak, and so was there when it came to the food. At the other three-star restaurants in Spain I paid €7 for a glass of white wine and €9 for a red (although a few places this was plus the 10 % VAT). At Azurmendi a glass of white wine (a German one even, which you rarely see in Spain) was €2.75 and a glass of red was €3.30. Compare this to Pic in France, where we were a few days before, where we paid €22 per glass. I know France is more expensive, and that it was different, and probably more expensive, wine, but for four glasses of wine the total difference between those two restaurants were €76 – half of the price of the menu at Azurmendi, and enough for a menu in a Spanish one-star restaurant. A large bottle of water was €4.40, and a small one was €2.75. My only tiny complaint is that they asked us if we wanted another bottle of water and we asked for a small one, but they didn’t pour us any of this and still charged us for it (I believe I saw the full bottle on a trolley when we left). So €2.50 wasted. That’s better than €200.
Minor issues aside, this was a great meal. Easily one of the best I’ve had in Spain, and easily also one of the best I’ve had in the entire world. And probably also the best value of any three-star restaurant I’ve ever been to.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
3 Thank Restaurantcritic-eu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Atlanta, GA, USA
Level Contributor
33 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“3 Star Michelin near Bilbao”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 11, 2013

If ever you are in Bilbao and want an incredible experience of wonderful flavor and texture for your palate, I highly recommend you dine at Restaurante Azurmendi, which is about a 30 minute cab ride from the Guggenheim Museum. I recently returned from one of those lifetime events as my wife and I joined my five siblings (four brothers and a sister), each of their spouses and our Mother, who so incredibly and generously sponsored the trip -- for a 12 night cruise on Crystal's Symphony. We sailed from Southampton, England to Rome, with a number of beautiful ports in between. And for the record, we thanked Mom profusely for her gift to us! On to the Azurmendi...

Our second port was Bilbao, Spain, and after a visit to the Guggenheim, one of my brother's had done some research and set us up for a lunch at Restaurante Azurmendi. I can sum it up with this: In all my years of dining, I experienced new flavors, textures, plating and presentations on just about every course that was included in Azurmendi's prix fixe menu, a picture of which I will attach hoping it is legible.

First, the setting: the Azurmendi sits about half way up one side of a beautiful valley, so after the rather steep ride up the property's driveway, the view down and over the rest of the valley is simply gorgeous. The restaurant itself was clearly designed to take full advantage of the view, as the dining room walls are made of glass allowing its guests to easily enjoy the lush, green countryside surrounding.

But our experience started before we entered the dinging room. As the eleven of us were enjoying the nature oriented waiting area of the facility, the servers brought out three picnic baskets of three different starters for each of us to whet our appetites. The uniqueness of the food experience we were about to enjoy started right then! I won't go into the menu items specifically as you can see them on the menu itself, but rest assured, when 11 people are oohing and ahhing over the tasters we were served, not much more needs to be said.

In a surprise to all of us, next we were invited into the kitchen to meet the chef/owner and his staff. The kitchen and work spaces were spotless, the explanation of their process appreciated, the pride in their work as a team was obvious, and they were each warm and welcoming to our group. So far, beyond good!

We were then seated at a spacious round table for 11 (it was my wife who stayed on the ship with my 85 year old mother), and the meal began. Again, I won't go into the food because, quite frankly, we ate what was put in front of us. This is something which I had never done previously, but truly enjoyed this day. Again, check out the seasonal menu for the specifics, but know that each course was wonderful. We had two rather finicky eaters who weren't wild about one course each, but they tried them all and still loved the overall experience. We shared three or four bottles of fine regional wines to complement the meal, which was topped off with some delicious desserts.

OK, the reality check -- it's expensive, so it may not be for everybody. I believe we had the 135€ per guest option (the other was Euro 165€) which did not include the wine. Yeah, big tab at the end of a 2.5 hour lunch, but this wasn't about the money or time -- it was a meal that each of us will remember for the rest of our lives! Incredible food in a beautiful setting with life long loved ones: you can't beat that!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank briwood4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
41 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Not what we expected”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 29, 2013

My friends and I went for lunch and had the set menu of 5 courses. The soup and desserts were excellent however the rest lacked flavour, seasoning and texture. One person explained that she was allergic to seafood but the waiter still served her fish, and then was annoyed with her when she said she could not eat it. Beautiful restaurant but very disappointing for a 3 Michellin starred restaurant.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
6 Thank Julz-T T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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