Caricia del Mar
Eneko Atxa
Pays: Spain
Localité: 48195 Larrabetzu (Vizcaya)
Adresse: Carretera del Aeropuerto. Corredor del Txorierdi; Salida 25..Barrio Legina, s/n
Jours de fermeture: Domingos
Prix à la carte: 130/180 €
Prix menu de dégustation: 100 y 120 €

We have known Eneko Atxa since he was 17. We have followed every step of his unstoppable career, exclusively slowed down by the chef’s excessive voluntarism during the first years of the business and by its consolidation and consecration during the last two years. Nowadays, this 34-year man expresses great maturity. He feels the anxiety of the creator in an intelligent and peaceful way. Every innovation transmits spiritual peace. His contributions, pertinently original, generally hide a high control of techniques, although his main goal is accomplishment, perfection and pleasing as many guests as possible –which justifies why flavours and ingredients brim with historical memory. The key word here is “balance”, because it magically combines tradition with renewal, naturality with denaturalization, product with technocracy; harmony… He is a studious, self-sacrificing, ambitious, idealistic and pragmatic cook. His lucidity to articulate the dishes and his proverbial sense of taste –both palatal and aesthetic– are remarkable. The sauces rime with intensity, consistency, refinement and … timelessness. The staging of the constructions reflects unusual artistic talents. A simple look at the pictures is enough to confirm it and to check the very high intellectual level of the work. The aesthetics also tells a lot about the personality and the style of the chef: Eneko is a great culinary designer, definitely. For the greater glory of the region, he set up a 3-Michelin-star restaurant in 2012 that might represent the most important facilities in the Basque Country or even in Spain. A modern building with hints of recent industrial architecture intermingled with a large window overlooking nature that blends with an avant-garde design. Futurism and nature are inserted into a culture that oozes local and individual identity.The house already stores a string of titles that will remain for posterity and must always be part of the ideal menu. Like the academic and galactic egg yolk filled with black truffle tea that explodes in the mouth and fills it completely. The cook alters forms and textures to produce a palatal combination that goes beyond the times. Or like the exquisite and irrepressible force of the sea expressed through the Gillardeau oyster with oceanic gel and aromas, liquid and cut seaweeds; a brilliant composition including waves and mist which takes you to a dawn in high seas. Another successful traditional proposal inspired from a national and world-famous stew: ox-tail raviolis wrapped in bread served with its creamy and gelatinous cooking juice; utterly succulent. The chef is a genius and he demonstrates it again offering us a garden that tastes the purity of tomato emulsion as well as onion and beet earth, in which artichokes flourish together with peas, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus and excellent baby tomatoes. Eneko has been able to take the stew to a completely new vision: the fantasizing and fantastic home-made blood sausage –a crunchy and melting ball– with Arraño beans broth, cabbage and vegetables, served into a triumphal and flowery crown. The last proposals reflect epic levels of inspiration and virtuosity. The reinvented souffléed potatoes are really audacious and memorable: crunchy and stuffed with some evanescent and delicious garlic mayonnaise and juice of charcoal-grilled red peppers. Here is another triumphal composition, simple and clear, so that the guest can play at ease with the purity of stellar products and nibble here and there: pieces of crayfish, little bites of quail, and kipper caviar lain over a brushstroke of beet with chicken juice essence; thrilling sensations that preserve the composure of the whole. A real show. Cookery and staging are always spectacular, here: roasted pigeon with “hazelnuts” (a kind of truffles made with the animal’s innards), crunchy leaves, earth and aromas from the wood; a mineral and lush distillation. Regardless of fog, dry ice recovers some sense once intermingled with meadow and pasture (rosemary, thyme, camomile and anise, this time), which inundate the table again, together with a tasty caramelized suckling pig, whose colours and presentation are even performed: breadcrumbs instead of leaves, vegetal acorn instead of hazelnuts, … The fact that Eneko Atxa possesses a lucid, marvellous and tremendous talent to articulate his dishes is expressed for the fourth time through his vision of the strawberries with cream: a very peculiar and technical proposal in which dry ice distils all the rose fragrances. Pertinently captivating. Apart from “hazelnuts” and “acorns”, the chef also proposes “chestnuts” in the form of an exquisite petit-four that is worth 10/10.