Ametsa was meant to be one of the hottest restaurant openings in London in 2013; it was the talk of the town for months before its official opening in March. Created by the heavy-weight Spanish duo of Juan and Elena Arzak, it aims to produce Spanish gastronomy using British ingredients; a welcome concept given the lack of high-end Spanish dining in London. Though, just like the soulless and uninspiring dining room, their cooking fails to deliver this worthy outcome.
King prawn with sweet corn is something that you would expect to find in a budget Chinese restaurant. The “king” prawns themselves are tiny, lack any depth of flavour, with the sweet corn broth tasting closer to a supermarket can version rather than what you would expect from a fine-dining experience.
The pigeon with shot is a decent meat dish at best, though the potato and vinegar “shot” gives you an unexpected bitter and sour kick, which might not be to everyone’s taste. The pigeon meat itself is rich, tender and earthy, but the problem is that the two elements just don’t seem to work well together.
The dessert offerings at Ametsa are a little better than the savoury dishes. The strawberry bubbles has a great balance of fruitiness and sourness from the berries, while the bubble cream adds a fun factor with its silky smoothness. The French toast with mango and coconut is also a refreshing dessert, and again, the execution of balancing sweet and sour is great. But just like all the other dishes, Ametsa is no-where near the exquisite and refinement that customers expect from a top-end restaurant.
In short, Ametsa fails to do justice to Spanish cuisine and relies too heavily on playful and gimmicky elements without actual flavours to back them-up. Also, the price point is a major issue, as for the same kind of money you can have a far superior meal at The Ledbury or Marcus Wareing. You can also get much better Spanish food in Spain for a lot less. Unless Ametsa steps-up a gear, it’s hard to imagine it lasting long given the strong competition in the London fine-dining market.