[Barcelona] Disfrutar - Molecular Gastronomy Done Right
After spending a week shivering in the cold in the UK, I was ready for a warmer destination like Barcelona! The first restaurant we tried was Disfrutar - a restaurant that was started by 3 former chefs from the legendary elBulli which focuses on molecular gastronomy. I wasn't sure what to expect at first because I'm wary of the use of molecular gastronomy for the sake of it which doesn't make the food taste better but not only did I have nothing to worry about, Disfrutar ended up setting the bar very high for the food in Barcelona for us. We came here for lunch but the 2 tasting menus with 19 courses for 70€ and 28 courses for 100€ are serve all day, and we chose the fewer course option to save space for dinner.
The first course was a "Welcoming Cocktail" with passion fruit sorbet and coffee which was refreshing to eat and served as a palate cleanser.
"The beet that comes out of land" was a strawberry meringue that arrived in a pretty glass bowl with gorgeous red flower petals. The meringue was covered up at first and the bowl was shaken in front of us to reveal the sweet treats.
The Tomato "Polvoron" and Arbequina Caviaroli was the first impressive dish of the meal with a tomato flavored powder that had such a strong and rich tomato flavor. I just love the contrast between what you see with your eyes and what you taste in your mouth.
The Transparent Pesto Ravioli with pine nuts was presented on a pine cone and we were instructed to dip it into the sauce before eating. Again it was very intriguing and interesting way of presenting the ingredients.
"Disfruta de la Aceituna" was ironically my favorite dish of the meal! I say ironic because I don't even like olives to begin with and yet this blew my mind when I popped it into my mouth and realized that the outer shell was a candied casing which released an explosion of liquid deliciousness upon a bite. The elder flower syrup that came with this was also superbly aromatic and delicate - I've never tasted something like that before and can only imagine that must be what fresh nectar taste like in flowers.
The Smoked Idiazabal Cheese Biscuit turned out to be a sweet delight as the cheese had been made into an ice cream-like texture while the accompanying celery and apple juice was a lovely chaser.
The Crispy Egg Yolk had been fried to perfection with Mushroom Gelatin in an egg shell which arrived looking like an egg in a bird's nest. I'm loving the thoughts and details that went into each dish's presentation!
The Seafood and Avocado Meringue Sandwich was delicate to eat because the "buns" were made of meringue.
Salad of Parmesan "Tacos" with tomato and balsamic vinegar capsules on top of a basil leaf - it was like a deconstructed salad if you will.
The next 2 dishes were a nod to Asian cuisine with Marinated Mackerel with Cauliflower in Vinegar that mimicked sushi and Mushroom Dumplings that arrived in a fog of dry ice.
The Macaroni Carbonara comprised of transparent gelatin macaroni that was tossed with cheese foam at the table.
The Endives in Fennel Meuniere with Trout Eggs was a nice surprise - who knew that hazelnut and capers could go together?
The Red Mullet with Pork Jowls was a great combination but it was the smoked Aubergine Gnocchi that stole the show for me.
We ended with the Iberian Pork Tenderloin Pibil and I loved the gelatin corn balls which unleashed a slew of deliciously sweet corn sauce.
The first dessert was the Lemon Verbena and Pineapple Sorbet with coconut and licorice which was very refreshing to eat. I just wasn't so hot on the licorice was was buried in the bottom of the sorbet and I didn't think it meshed well with the rest of the dessert.
The Chocolate Peppers with Oil and Salt was another trick on the eyes and taste buds as the "peppers" were filled with chocolate ganache! The red pepper was salted while the green pepper was paired with a drizzle of oil.
The sweet ending of the meal was a delicate Coffee Profiterole with orange meringue, coffee sorbet and cream.
Verdict - the food at Disfrutar is no doubt impressive and creative, and I think a Michelin star is not far way but the service would need to be more consistent if they want to be on top. When we arrived for lunch, we got greeted by a rather unfriendly staff that just led us to the bar area in front while others were led to tour the restaurant with the main dining room and open kitchen. Even though I had made reservations ahead of time and was one of the first ones to arrive, I don't know why we didn't get seated in the main dining room which was much more spacious and airy with lots of natural light but instead we got seated in the bar area up front with cafe-like tables and scratchy chairs. Luckily towards the end, a friendly staff led us to tour the rest of the restaurant which was when I found out how beautiful the main dining room actually was and the sheer number of people in the kitchen preparing our food. Since the meal is not cheap, every aspect of the service and experience counts and I hope to experience a better Disfrutar when I make a return visit!
Calle Villarroel, 163
Tel: +34 93 348 68 96
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