I celebrated a big birthday in September and I certainly made the most of it! The Better Half (TBH) and I had the most divine foodie weekend away in San Sebastian. Friends visited from South Africa, Amsterdam, the US, Dublin and Manchester for a party to end all parties and then once the dust started to settle I was treated to a fantastic dinner at Jun Tanaka’s The Ninth on Charlotte Street by my personal trainer and dear friend, Maritha. It was the perfect end to a really wonderful birthday!
I have been to The Ninth before and had a fantastic experience so when Maritha asked for suggestions on where I wanted to go, I didn’t hesitate in choosing this one. It strikes the balance just right between casual and a special night out.
The menu is sharing style and broken up into “snacks, salads, raw and cured, fish, meat and dessert”. We tried to pick a dish from every section and so kicked things off with a pair of oxtail croquettes from the snacks section of the menu. Rich, tender oxtail encased in a crunchy breadcrumb. So more’ishly addictive, I wish I had ordered more. There was a lot of food to come though, so probably best to pace myself.
Next we had the braised veal shin tortellini, veal sauce topped with hazelnut gremolata, bone marrow and parmesan. I have had before and enjoyed immensely but it wasn’t as good as I remembered. The veal sauce was deep and full of flavour and the gremolata adding texture and freshness, but what should have been the star – the tortellini – let the dish down. The pasta, in my opinion, was too thick and a little on the chewy side. A real shame because the component parts were excellent.
Pumpkin risotto with scallops was absolutely packed full of flavour, I don’t think I’ve had a better risotto yet! A nice bite to the rice, perfectly cooked scallops and the pumpkin seeds adding texture and a nice nutiness.
This was followed by the grilled whole sea bass, Datterini tomatoes, clams and herbs. I absolutely adore sea bass and this was a very fine example. Some people are put off by seeing a whole fish on their plate, but being cooked whole and on the bone like this really ensures the fish retains it’s moisture. Stuffed with herbs and laying on a bed of sliced lemons, the fish was full of flavour. Every element, playing it’s part. Saltiness from the clams, sweetness from the tomatoes and freshness from the herbs. Very, very good.
From the meat section we chose the grilled veal chop, aubergine, olives and tomato confit. Looking more like a fillet to me, it was extremely lean and succulent and the garnish brought a lovely taste of the Mediterranean to the dish.
If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen me post a picture of the dessert we ordered. The pain perdu with vanilla ice cream was seriously one of the best desserts I think I have ever had! It’s a slice of brioche soaked in creme Anglais (custard) for 24 hours and then fried in butter. Incredibly rich and totally indulgent, but if you can’t indulge on your birthday, then when can you? A thing of utter beauty, I am still dreaming about it. That pastry chef has some serious skills!
We were served by the wonderful Sandy, who was the waitress at Bonhams when TBH and I dined there for our anniversary in March. What are the chances? She remembered me and was as kooky as I remembered her to be! A total joy to have in any restaurant.
As it was my birthday treat, I didn’t see the final bill but for the quality of food coming out of that kitchen and the general experience, I would be happy to pay my own money to eat there many times over.
Until we eat again!