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Getting Instructed At Ametsa

29/08/2013 12:17 BST | Updated 29/10/2013 09:12 GMT

My Mum is a pretty good cook. So is my friend Lottie. Last time I went round to her house for dinner, she had spent 24 hours tending to some pork. It was spectacular. That said, neither my mother or Lottie can claim to be the World's Greatest Female Chef. Elena Arzak can - she was crowned as such in 2012.

And now she's bringing her talents to London at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction (a slightly unwieldy title), a small but perfectly-formed restaurant in The Halkin Hotel near London's Hyde Park Corner.

Light and airy, my guest and I decided to tackle the set lunch menu (with some added extras) - good value at £24.50.

Tapas starts it off. A creamy cold almond soup poured over scallops with just a hint of nuttiness. Expertly-cooked meaty squid with black ink that didn't put off my companion who doesn't do well with overbearing fishiness. A spider crab salad which was fresh and tasty, but could have done with a bit more crab. Still, adding a chorizo/mango combination cleverly achieved with smoky pureed meat and swirl of fruit meant that along with a plate of salty ham, we both felt satisfied - not like many set lunch menus elsewhere where you get a tiny platelet and finish only to pop down the road afterwards for a sandwich.

The ox cheek main was soft and flavourful. Vanilla as an accompaniment seemed a bit too cute, but worked. Meanwhile, my lightly battered hake with roasted peppers ended up being like posh fish and chips. And that is a massive compliment.

The wait staff offered to explain the menu, but we were more than happy to put ourselves in the hands of Ms Arzak. She's, after all, the expert. Thankfully, our sommelier did help out, suggesting a blinding Alberino from La Liebre Y La Tortuga (The Hare And The Tortoise), which we plan to drink at home.

So world's greatest female chef? Well, I haven't eaten at enough female-run restaurants to make that (frankly rather reductive, since what does it matter what gender she is?) judgement.

But she knows what she's doing, that's for sure.

www.ametsa.co.uk

@AmetsaArzak