Disfrutar, Barcelona

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1 ✻ Michelin Guide 2016

The second restaurant i visited in Barcelona was Disfrutar. In fact, i went there the night immediately after i went to Tickets and I was still kinda full. Both Disfrutar and Tickets are operated by ex-elBulli head chefs and this is reflected in the element of theatricity and surprise in many of their dishes (and the quality of the food – but that goes without saying).

Probably wouldn’t call Disfrutar a tapas place since they only offer tasting menus but the small-serving format holds true here as well. There was a choice between 4 menus, and for simplicity’s sake i am calling them Classic short, classic long, festival short and festival long.

the classic menus feature the ‘classic’ (no shit) dishes of the restaurant like the chocolate peppers or the olives or the whisky tart, while the festival menu features newer creations (that, who knows, might one day become classics). The short menus have about 20 courses while the long menu has close to 30.

We arrived slightly early (i want to know – which is worse: coming slightly early for first serving or late for any serving?) and met the one the head chefs, Eduard, who was also formerly a head chef at elBulli. He looked busy af so we left him to his stuff and ordered some beer.

I opted for the gran classic and braced myself for the most intense eating sesh of my life. I want to add that while I was mulling over whether to get a wine pairing, I plugged down that bottle of Grevensteiner and decided against it. This was undoubtedly the best decision of the evening as I had an insane fucking amount of difficulty trying to finish all the food. So if you opt for a wine pairing with the food, probably stick with the short menu or skip breakfast and lunch because this will really fill you up. Seriously – don’t underestimate how much food 29 little plates amounts to.

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Like most good meals and all great meals, this one opened up with some nice drinks. The first course was a frozen cocktail with passion fruit, rum and coffee. Really strong coffee bits sprinkled on top of the shaved ice thing but it was a nice drink, very smooth.

Next was “The beet that come out of the land” – a beet meringue that rose up in the dish from under the pile of brown chips in a great display.

Then came the lychee and roses with gin. Not too sure if the gin shows up in the photo (bottom left) – it’s a little pearl of gin suspended in some kind of bubble. you bring the rose petal up to your mouth and the pearl slides inside and bursts – and you pop the frozen lychee (with that similar shaved-ice texture) into your mouth and enjoy the sensation.

Which reminds me – the name of the restaurant, Disfrutar, literally means enjoy. Lots of the dishes are really good fun, but if you get too full it really takes out the enjoyment so don’t overdo it. Can’t stress that enough.

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The next dish came in a nice wooden box – almost like some kind of little chest and it was the ‘salted candy nuts with mango, tonka beans and whisky’ – not too sure what was going on here but it tasted good all the same.

A lovely fish cracker came next, which the menu described as ” ‘multipescadito frito’ with fresh trout roe”. My spanish isn’t good but multi=multi, pescadito=fish and frito=fried cracker so kind of like a fish cracker made from different fishes. really salty and tasty. loved it.

The famous olives came next, and were encased in a thin but brittle sugar shell which cracks open when you bite into it gently. green, then black. explosion of flavour ensued but you have to try it for yourself. It came with a tiny spoon with an essence of tangerine blossom that goes last which really lifted up the dish.

Then was the idiazabal smoked cheese biscuit with apple juice and celery. Really nice little cheese cracker that was ice cold and served on one of the many terracotta tiles that you see all over the restaurant’s interiors. The apple and celery was served in a little cup like an infusion.

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course 8 was the tempura egg yolk and mushroom gelatine which was served in the eggshell beneath the tempura. Really really delicious and the egg yolk is nice and hot but so molten. It was served together with mushroom “dumplings” – which descended in a cloud of not steam but dry ice (as i subsequently discovered). It looked really hot but the dumplings were unexpectedly ice cold and encased in a gelatine outer so you could see the contents inside. pretty cool (literally).

course 10 was a corn tart with foie gras. Our waiter jokingly warned us not to eat the rest of the stuff on the plate which were decorations. Nice and creamy.

11: deconstruction of ceviche. nice peruvian-inspired dish and really really tasty. The orange thing in the centre is a carrot sorbet. the whole dish has no fish or whatever but it really tastes and feels like ceviche in your mouth which is kinda mindblowing.

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Carbs came next, although it obviously wasn’t the usual – the macaroni carbonara here is made with transparent gelatine instead of the usual pasta and no heavy egg yolk sauces here, just a light foam sprayed on top and gently combined. appreciated the playful spin on the ‘lightness’ of the usually heavy italian dish. guess you could say they were making light of a classic.

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the little red things on the metal strip are the ‘tomato “polvoron” and arbequina oil caviar”. not too sure whats going on here and the waiter was having a bit of a hard time explaining but this was so incredibly delicious.

Beside it is a champagne flute containing a dark green liquid and some foam on top. This looks a little dodgy and the fact that it’s called a liquid salad does not help. But once it slides into your mouth, it’s pure bliss and you drain it.

next is a ravioli dish that’s meant to substitute a lovely sea urchin dish on the menu. pretty nice but wasn’t the best.

‘langoustine “al ajillo”‘ came next and it was quite delicious but i was getting really full at this point. The dishes at Disfrutar come rapid fire and there’s little time for respite. I suppose you can tell them to slow it down but it’s not really meant to be that way (we did have a leisurely, slow-dining affair at Restaurants Mina and that review is coming up pretty soon- meaning like maybe 1 year later)

Next was red mullet with pork belly and eggplant gnocchi. This was one of the mains and it was really nice but i was getting fuller and fuller. After this experience i had a good laugh with many friends, some of which have eaten longer and heavier meals. I want to share a conclusion that we reached following these epic binging sessions and it is this: once you get past the mains, you’ll be fine for dessert. But boy getting past those mains are a real challenge. And so along we plod.

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This was actually rather exquisite, they call it hare cold juice with tarragon. But it’s meant to be kind of like a brandy that you sip with the next few dishes. It’s essentially a cold consommé of hare with orange peel, tarragon and a spritz of armagnac. The dish is prepared at the table and it looks really great. Boy this was one of the memorable ones. Great flavour from the rabbit consommé and it really does give off those slow-sipping vibes.

Those black discs you see are frozen biscuits with foie gras with some kind of silver leaf on top. Ice cold but lovely. Really getting quite fond of things being served on little metal rods at this point.

laksa. I want to say that i was born in Singapore and lived here for the better part of my life. And, like all locals, I’ve eaten my fair share of laksa. But this boys was the absolute show-stopping firecracker that blew your ass into the air. It looks like a clam with the little tube sticking out and everything but that’s really vermicelli in a laksa foam made from lemongrass and other aromatics with lime peel shaved on top. I love how southeast-asian cuisine is appropriated and amalgamated into the fare at Disfrutar and boy they really take it to the next level. tremendous respect for that and I’m not ashamed to say that they’re beating us at our own game.

moroccan style pigeon. really struggled here. the pigeon was really good and much better than the one i had at L’atelier de JR at RWS but I was so so so full at this point it was worse than running a marathon. It was served with a couscous and some apple jelly or something which was good but I felt bloated here. Fortunately, I managed to eat about 85% of the dish and the mains were over.

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Desserts arrived after what seemed like a whirlwind. Listen – people say whirlwind when it comes to some nice dinner they had all the time but I’m going to say this: unless you’ve had more than 20 courses in your stomach, shut your face cause you have no clue what a whirlwind of dishes feels like. But boy, when I saw the light of desserts my heart leapt and i felt hungry again. It was their mango sorbet sandwich, which is not really a sandwich but a meringue. so nice and cold.

Then came the cheesecake cornets, which were lovely, although the cream cheese in the cone was really really cloying (but in a good way, i was just a little full for that).

Chocolate peppers, oil and salt. These were cool. they look like peppers but they’re actually semi-molten chocolate encased in a glossy gelatine shell that looks so much like real fruit. served with a  little crunchy cracker with olive oil and some salt. So simple but this was really satisfying. The chocolate inside was also ice cold just the way i love it.

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The next dish I was really excited about. I’d heard about this deconstructed whisky tart and I really had to try it. They serve you a little dollop of pastry, some cream and some clear thing and you’re supposed to eat them in a certain sequence. But before all that, they pour a little whisky into your hands. I know my whiskies fairly well and this was one of those smoky drams from Islay that blew you away. you rub the whisky in your hand and give it a good long inhale then start eating and it’s such a novel way to go about desserts. Cream, pastry, cream then the little thing.

Last was the cotton of cocoa and mint. Didn’t get a picture of this and the thing you see is actually one of the cotton balls on the tree which the dish was served and not actually meant to be eaten but the actual thing looked pretty similar.

The meal ended with coffee on the terrace and boy I was really really full. But i enjoyed it and we had a great time.

cuisine: 25/25 | aesthetic: 15/15 | technicality: 15/15 | originality : 15/15 | ambience: 15/15 | service: 8/10 | value: 5/5

aggregate score: 98

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