Martin Berasategui’s Oria restaurant stands right next door to his Lasarte in the Monument Hotel. Around the world, Berasategui’s got more than a dozen restaurants to his name, seven of which boast Michelin stars, including Lasarte (with three) and Oria (with one). The Basque chef and restaurateur puts maximum effort into offering what he calls an avant-garde vision with roots in the land where he’s working, thanks, above all he says, to a team of local, young and innovative chefs who put a bit of their soul into ever dish (a special nod to Oria chef Felipe Carvalho). To make a comparison, Oria is the informal dining room (‘sport casual’, as Berasetegui says) to Lasarte’s more upscale atmosphere, but it’s a stellar way to enter into the Berasetegui universe without feeling the pressure of ‘this meal will change your life’.
Oria brings back the tradition Berasetegui first implemented in 1993 with a sign that said you could pay what you want, and he and his team would come up with the best tasting menu they could for you, inviting you to be excited and fearless about the experience. For €45 (the set lunch menu is €40) they offer a tasting menu that’s brief yet, earthy and elegant, with simple dishes without the complexity of those at Lasarte, but with raw power and plenty of surprises.
During the six courses I fall in love with cannelloni stuffed with pig’s trotters and oxtail, a tender monkfish fillet with artichokes, cockles and capers with nuances from the sprouts, and a roast beef steak where the celery and turnip mash lightens up the perigourdine sauce. Wines, coffee and petit fours are included. Berasategui attributes his success to being someone who loves to enjoy himself and good food, as well as being a bit of a non-conformist. And he offers his clientele an unbeatable dining experience that combines those two sides of him.