It’s been a while since we dedicated an entry to our “Basque world” section, where, among other things, we share our personal experiences at places we’ve found interesting and which we recommend.
Today, we’re dedicating this space to a restaurant we found simply fascinating: the Hamarratz. It’s located in the Artadi neighborhood of Zumaia, overlooking Urola River.
The first thing that’s striking is its location: right there, at the dead end, we have the local church, a three-walled jai alai court, a txoko, and the restaurant itself. That plus the surroundings are just truly surprising.
What might seem like the entrance to a storeroom, or the access point to a family’s txoko, in an immaculate white and blue fisherman’s family-style home, takes us into a restaurant where the work and food prep areas take up more space than the dining area, and where a traditionally elegant décor is combined with just the right touch of modernity.
By the way, in the work area, we have the ranges, with truly epically-sized grills, and a “cocina económica,” from which dishes come forth full of products which do not get lost in strange flavors. But it’s also an honest-to-goodness experimental lab, full of curing chambers, massive fridges, sausage makers, etc., where shellfish, fish, and other seafood are treated, researched, analyzed, in order to extract all their flavor not only in traditional dishes but also in surprising new ones.
The restaurant is cozy, and, while going over its menu, surprising. It also changes throughout the year, adapting to local produce. Be sure to take a trip through its vegetable garden, which is what they use in the kitchen, and is also full of surprises.
Now, we must confess, we went for the sampler degustación set menu, in order to get to try a bit of everything. But we heeded the staff’s advice, and left ourselves in their hands. We were not disappointed. Do note that seafood overwhelmingly dominates the menu.
We won’t go into too much detail about what we ate, because, like we said, the menu is constantly changing But it does seem that a few things are constant. One of those, we’re sure, is the octopus sausage. Yes, you read that right, octopus sausage, a product of their experimental lab. You won’t find this anywhere else. And if anyone were to ask us how it was, we’d say only one thing can top the dish’s originality, and that is its flavor. It’s divine.
And, since we’ve told you how the meal began, we’ll tell you how it ended: with rice juice cream. We discovered this dessert a long, long time agoe, from one of the chefs at that restaurant, Carlos Gulín, and we have to admit we’re hooked.
We really did enjoy it, for its surroundings, its ambiance, the menu, and the staff. It’s perfect for a date night or a small group of friends, as long as everyone’s ready to enjoy traditional Basque cuisine that is also surprising.
You will NOT regret it.
This article is not the product of a commercial agreement with the restaurant, nor is this advertising. We’re sharing this experience because we found it insteresting, because they work with local products from the Basque Country, and because they support local small growers who use sustainable farming techniques.