Kai Kaipe (“under the harbour”) opened in 1962, situated in the little fishing port of Getaria, 24km (15 miles) west of San Sebastian. It specialises in seafood, especially charcoal grilled turbot cooked on open air grills. Kaia Kaipe and Elkano are owned by the same family. Igor Arregi, who runs Kaia Kaipe, is the grandson of the founder of the restaurants, and Elkano is owned by his father Pedro Arregui. The wood panelled dining room looks out over the sea. langoustines and lobster are kept live in large tanks in the side of the cliff underneath the restaurant, near the vast wine cellar.
The wine list here is one of the finest in the world. It is not just a matter of scale, though 40,000 bottles is a large collection by any standard. It is has considerable depth of coverage of vintages, especially amongst Spanish wines and is notable for the fair pricing. To take an example, Egly-Ourier 2008 Millesime champagne was listed at €180, yet retails in London at €842, so barely more than a fifth of its retail price. To illustrate the depth of vintages, the list has Vega Sicilia Unico in ten vintages on the main list, and on the reserve list there are 23 more vintages going back to the legendary 1962. You can explore the list online yourself, with all kinds of delights tucked away. Some random examples include Bodegas Remelluri Reserve 2010 at €35 compared to a typical shop price of €65, and Rioja Alta 890 2005 at €135 compared to its shop price of €139. Jacques Selosse Substance was €349 for a bottle that sells in the UK for €877, if you are careful where to look. Coche Dury Meursault 2001 was €980 compared to a shop price of €1,613 in the UK. I could go on. The list is a wine lover’s dream.
A little appetiser of cooked tuna was harmless enough. My starter was raw tuna with a soy dressing (€25), which was simple but enjoyable, the lean tuna slices having plenty of flavour (14/20). Kokotxa (hake cheek) was pronounced delicious by my well-travelled dining companion, with a slightly gelatinous texture. The turbot itself (€45 each) is served whole, filleted at the table. You eat not just the fillet but the cheek and every little piece of flesh off the bone. There are various legends about why the turbot here tastes so good. Is it some special subspecies of turbot only found locally? Is it the little acidic marinade that is sprayed on the fish when it is being moved from one set of coals to another? Is it the open-air grilling over charcoal? The owner told me that it was simply because they pay top dollar to the local fisherman for the best quality specimens that are caught. Whatever is the case, this turbot just tastes lovely, with deep flavour and just a hint of smokiness (16/20).
Raspberries and puff pastry was pleasant enough though for me the pastry was a touch overcooked. Still, the raspberries had good flavour (13/20). Service was friendly and the bill was €408 (£351) per person but that was mostly the wine - Delamotte vintage 2012 Blanc de Blanc Champagne (€92 compared to retail price of €90) and the glorious Vega Sicilia Reserva Especial (from vintages 2006, 2007 and 2009 at €490 v retail price of €696). If you just shared a simple bottle of wine and had three courses then a typical cost per person might come to around €110 (£92). This is a simple restaurant in terms of the food, based around high quality local seafood and with the bonus of a fabulous wine list. What is not to like?
Further reviews: 21st Sep 2014