[Spain: Barcelona] 1* Enigma - El Bulli Reimagined Today
Rating: ❤❤❤ (3/5)
Lastly we visited one of the most mysterious restaurant opening of last year in Barcelona - Enigma by Albert Adria. As the younger brother of Ferran Adria and pastry chef at the legendary El Bulli, Albert Adria wanted to reimagine what El Bulli would be like today with this latest venture. In the beginning, little was known about the food being served; the restaurant had a clamp down on social media and diners weren't supposed to post anything so as not to spoil the surprise for others. Now you can find quite a bit of pictures online and the staff didn't seemed to mind that I was taking pictures (one even told me that I should take video). From what I heard, reviews for Enigma have been mixed from the dishes to the duration of the meal. Our experience was similar; J was so bored he wanted to leave halfway through the meal. For a meal with close to 40 courses, only a handful managed to make an impression and at €220 per person, that's not good. I've never been to El Bulli so I don't know how the food compared, but we felt that there was a lot of fluff without substance and a lack of consistency between stations. But let's start at the beginning...
So after you make the reservation and paid the €100 deposit per person, you will be given a code to enter on the electronic door lock at the entrance of Enigma.
Once inside, you will find yourself in an impressive space decorated like a futuristic ice cave or what I imagine Elsa's castle from Frozen would look like in real life.
The dining experience is divided into 6 rooms where diners will rotate throughout the meal. The first was right at the reception area - Ryokan - where we enjoyed a welcome drink.
The next room was La Cava where you will pick out drinks for the rest of the meal (whether wine pairing or a la carte). A few more snacks were served but none were particularly memorable.
Airpancake with Pistachio
Cabbage with Truffle
La Barra is the seafood station and has recently been moved up to improve the dining experience. There was a strong Japanese influence as it was set up like a sushi counter almost. The food here was also the best out of the other rooms and the chef was very friendly as well.
Oyster & Lemon where the natural flavors of the oyster have been preserved.
The Daikon Miroir was a delicious bite.
The chef explained in details what we were eating before each course. Here he was showing us a sea cucumber from Roses. In Chinese cuisine, we eat a lot of sea cucumbers but I was surprised to learn that in Spain, they only eat the insides rather than the whole thing.
Sea Cucumber in "Pil Pil" sauce, Holoturia with Iberian Dashi - the insides were served like noodles with a bit of sauce slathered on top to intensify the silky texture. It was interesting to see sea cucumber served this way and the taste was also very different from what I'm used to.
The Prawn and its Head - the red prawn was also from Roses, and we were served the head and body separately. The head was rich and creamy while the body had been soaked in sea water ice to retain its bouncy texture. I love prawns in Spain and it was fantastic here.
For the next dish, the chef told me that I should take a video while he cut open the sac of the trout roe. The roe were then soaked in soy sauce (much like sushi restaurants) to be served momentarily later with the next dish.
As we moved on to the next station, we passed through several kitchen areas where a lot of preparations took place.
The La Planxa was set up like a teppanyaki station and while the chef was also very friendly here, the food here was lackluster for the most part.
The Squid with Soy Sauce had very little flavor.
The Eel Tamagomochi was rolled up in front of us but while I enjoyed the moch-like texture, the flavors were a bit bland.
The Truffled Wagyu was the most disappointing of all. The meat was tough and tasteless - if this is supposed to replicate yakiniku in Japan, then it failed miserably.
Shitake & "Perretxiko" Chawanmushi
"Pate en Croute"
Sea Anemone, Anchovies & Earl Grey
Artichoke & Roses Salad
Mushroom Cloud in "Escabeche" Sauce
Walnut (Hare Brain)
White Anchovies & Ikura Dango - I was not a fan of the ikura dango
Quail with Roses - I really rather have actual quail than just quail sauce on rose petals...
Tomato Salad (with 4 different olive oil)
Almond with "Gelee" Almond
Lychee with Strawberry & Coconut
Much like Tickets Bar, we were led to a mysterious area after the end of the meal for a surprise! The last room was a replica of the now defunct 41° bar (another restaurant by Albert Adria) where we enjoyed a few cocktails and petit fours to conclude the experience.
I've never been to 41 Degrees and I'm not sure what the drinks were like before but the ones we got to try here were way too strong and off-balanced.
Parmesan Sphere, Sea Urchin & Yuzu Crystal
Kumquat, Black Sesame & Soy Sauce Chocolates
After the meal, we left the restaurant through a backdoor in a dream-like state: our wallets were lighter and we were anxious to get back to the hotel. Enigma is an ambitious concept for sure but I'm just not sure all the pieces are in place yet.
Carrer de Sepúlveda, 38-40, 08015 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34 616 69 63 22