Mugaritz is number six on Restaurant magazine’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and has two Michelin stars. One would expect food perfection from such a restaurant, non? But it seems Chef Aduriz aims to surprise more than to please.

“Mugaritz” refers to an old oak tree that grows around the farmhouse restaurant; the country setting with an exuberant garden suggests a connection to nature.


The first few dishes (summer truffle slices with a garlic and parsley pesto and tomato-“smeared” radishes) were delivered to the patio, where wafts of smoke smelling of grilled meat were emitted. Each plate, as well as the sensory experience, was supposed to evoke memories and emotion.

The table decoration, which I referred to as a Chia pet, turned out to be “edible”—sprouted grass seeds to be dipped in a pine nut butter.

The beginning of a veritable orgy of gelled food arrived—braised beef tendon…

and then came the gelatinous chicken “mille-feuille” with crispy skin…

and then a jiggly tiger nut starch in a perilla leaf…

and “torched” pork belly that was barely cooked.

Finally, we were served fresh green chickpeas.


Inside the dining room, with a view of the veranda, we ate (or slurped) a peanut paste with crab and pumpkin cream.

The steak tartare with caviar was viscous and sticky.

A cured cod bread pudding with cream and coffee powder coated the palate.

A local fish was bathed in a mucilaginous herb sauce that was green to boot!

These are cod tongues in a bone marrow emulsion—imagine.


We ground our own corn in a mortar with a pestle and were advised to moisten it with gelatin and eat on bread. Maybe this was to remind us of the labor expended for food, or ancient preparation? Either way, it was not appetizing at all.


And then we played a game against each other for a bite of caviar to top our milk on toast—to remember our childhood or to save on servings? Anyway, one of us just did not get it.

Was horse meat meant to make us think of hard times in Europe when people were forced to eat it? Or was it meant to provoke us because some cultures find it taboo? We did not ask what was the tangy white slime that served as a sauce.

We were taken to the kitchen to try a sweet treat—after eating a brownish marshmallow, we were told it was made of pork blood and caramelized onions. The chef de cuisine said it is to teach the history of how sugar used to be so expensive that other items were used as sweeteners. Blood substituted for egg whites because it has the same protein properties, but was this part of the historical lesson? I believe blood would have been harder to come by than eggs in the past.

Onward with dessert: shaved frozen apple and aged cheese…

and frozen lemon curd in a candied lemon peel…

and something called a Cronut, which was actually a meringue…

and a strawberry tart topped with, you guessed it, another gelee, of sweet cream.


A server scattered “stones” across our table at the beginning of the dinner. If you are a savvy diner and research a restaurant before you go, you would know that in the past these were artfully decorated potatoes and were eatable. I picked up one and tapped it, tried to crush it, but it was as hard as a rock. How many patrons have cracked a tooth? Apparently the joke is on you, because now they are tiny sugar sculptures you are instructed to grate onto mini churros as a mignardise.

En fin, a “tower of Babel” was delivered with seven deadly sin levels, each containing a different kind of chocolate—now this one I got.


One thought on “Mugaritz

  1. I would take a nice shrimp or steak over this any day. I would be a terrible food critic but have more money in my pocket for another steak or some sea food.


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