With the closing of El Bulli, there are now quite a few contenders in Spain for the title of the world’s most celebrated trend setting restaurant. Of the contenders, the only one I have not tried is DACOSTA’s restaurant in Denia. ARZAK in Donostia used to be one of the world’s best in the ‘90s, but it has gone downhill since the transition from father to daughter. In my opinion the restaurant now merits one Michelin star. BERASETEQUI is a solid restaurant which cooks contemporary dishes with modern twists and deserves two Michelin stars. CAN ROCA used to be a very exciting restaurant where the chef created some masterpieces for complementary tastes containing a contrasting element. Unfortunately my last three meals there after the restaurant received the 3rd Michelin star have been consistently inferior to the meals of the early 2000s, and merited, at most, two stars. The chef, Juan Roca, seems overworked; too many dishes seem to be created by the underlings; and the cooking now showcases technical virtuosity at the expense of deliciousness. MUGARRITZ was one of my favorite restaurants in the mid-2000s, but since he broke his ties with tradition, the chef, Andoni Aduriz, seems to be rowing towards a no man’s land and is creating dishes which may satisfy the brain, but not the palette. My last meal at Mugarritz, at most, merited one star.
This said, I think Spain may be the most exciting place in Europe to dine out, since it excels in the so called “middle category,” often overlooked by the Guide Michelin.