Best London Basque restaurants
London Basque food is having a moment. Here are the hot new Basque restaurant openings on offer, plus some golden oldies
Basque county, which stretches from northern Spain to southwestern France, is home to around 40 Michelin-starred restaurants and hundreds of cider houses (sagardotegi) nestling in the hills around San Sebastián.
The Basque language, Euskara, is nothing like Spanish, and in fact has no known relatives, so menus are strewn with untranslatable, impossible-looking words full of x's (but don't worry, it's no challenge to enjoy the food). Before you set out, here's a mini-glossary of Basque food terms to give you a taste of what's on offer:
bacalao: salt cod, almost always dried
pintxos: small bites, but unlike tapas, not to be shared!
sagardoa: Basque cider is much dryer and funkier than ciders we are familiar with
txakoli: slightly sparkling, very dry white wine
txoko: an invitation-only food club, where Basques gather to experiment with cooking and socialise. Literally translates as nook or cosy corner
txotx: to break out the cider. Shout this when you do so!
zurito: a tiny beer serving, to go with the tiny morsels in pintxo
Grupo Sagardi was founded 18 years ago in Barcelona, and already has 29 restaurants across the Spanish-speaking world. Now, luckily for us, it’s London’s turn. On soft launch with 50% discount until September, Sagardi promises the best produce from Basque farms and its coast, all flown in daily from San Sebastián.
Eneko at One Aldwych, Covent Garden
Thank goodness it's finally here! This hotly anticipated Basque restaurant at One Aldwych hotel comes from chef Eneko Atxa, whose three-Michelin Aurmendi restaurant in Bilbao, Spain, is no.16 in the World's Top 50 Restaurants. And for the month of August you can dine at his London incarnation with 50% off – but hurry, because booking is already open.
Counter Culture, Clapham
Serving up pintxos, Counter Culture puts his own spin on Basque with lots of pickling, fermenting and curing techniques. With only 15 seats, many around a central kitchen island, it's pretty cosy – there's plenty of standing space too, in typical Basque country style.
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, COMO The Halkin hotel, Belgravia
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction showcases the finest Basque cuisine London has to offer, headed by Elena Arzak, voted Veuve Clicquot World’s Best Female Chef in 2012. Their food philosophy pairs the rustic, earthy flavours of Spain’s Basque region with modern, surprising twists.
This luxury hotel also does afternoon tea, Basque style – think finger sandwiches filled with Piquillo peppers, tapas, spider crab and avocado and lime custard and banana tartlets - from 12pm to 2pm and 5.30pm to 9pm from Monday to Saturday. Click here to book at The Halkin bar.