We liked the owner and waiter, he was very nice. However, there were problems and that shows in the number of empty seats. We had the Amaiur salad (9€). That was a typical Basque salad, including egg, tuna, some kiwi etc. Nice but basic. Then we had clams (almejas a la marinera, 18€). That was the best dish on that evening. Nice and fresh, with basic butter and wine sauce (onion and herbs). Then we had pheasant (faisán a las uvas, 16€). That went to the wrong direction, unfortunately. The dish was a mess, with none of the elements reaching any standards required for a place like this. It was very nice that seasonal dishes were offered, but it doesn't make any sense that actual thought in the food is sacrificed, possibly due to trying to do too much at once. We had also squid in its ink (chipirones en su tinta, 16,80€). The squid tasted fresh, but the pheasant didn't. Even if the pheasant was fresh (which it didn't look like), that dish was dead, all freshness killed. The spark in the kitchen is definitely dimming due to the recession. However, the recession does not hit every restaurant so in the end that can be ruled out as a factor for not meeting the standards.
In our view, what must be done is to completely bury the old Basque cuisine. Bring in new, modern cuisine and treat customers with surprises. Better to get rid of the too big space (with two floors). Or at least, as somebody wrote, get candles, new chairs and atmospheric lighting. The service was great and knowledgeable, but almost everything else was not right. The building is beautiful but a good restaurant has to feel intimate, warm and exciting. Good service and only theoretically good food and wine list will not cut it these days. All dishes have to be truly flawless and modern. Otherwise people will not pay these prices and they will go to another place. That is the way it is today and we hope Amaiur will renew their concept. As it is, we don't see a future for Amaiur.
Closed on Sundays by the way. We will check the reviews later to see how Amaiur is doing!
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