Disfrutar: Evolving Molecular Gastronomy Beyond the Orthodox
The word "Disfrutar" means "To enjoy" in Spanish. And, if you're wondering, we did in fact enjoy our meal. This gastronomic powerhouse was 55th in 2017's World's Best Restaurants. For reference, it bested some of the most prestigious restaurants, including Benu (San Francisco - #67), Le Cinq (Paris - #80), and Florilége (Tokyo - #99).
Disfrutar was launched in December 2014 by ex-elBulli chefs. elBulli was one of the most experimental, three-star Michelin restaurants in the world led by Ferran Adrià. Disfrutar specializes in molecular gastronomy with Modern European and Mediterranean flavors.
This was our first meal upon arriving in Barcelona and, wow, we were jet-lagged because we barely got any sleep on our red-eye flight from New York. We probably had 5 espressos EACH during the course of this 3.5 hour lunch. Even though we were exhausted, this was one of the most fun, authentic, and interesting meals we've had in this city.
The menu is a surprise! You can request the menu at the end of the meal but Disfrutar believes that the element of surprise is essential for the gastronomic experience. Having dined here, I 100% agree. There are three menus, one classic, one seasonal ("Festival" menu), and one combination of the two ("Disfrutar" menu). Each menu, except the Disfrutar, has a "Gran" size with more dishes. The menus range from 120 Euros to 185 Euros.
Steph and I got the Gran Classic menu (150 Euros), which comes with about 25 courses. If you think that's a lot, the Disfrutar menu comes with 30+ courses. The pace of the meal is quite fast but not overwhelming. Some items could even be a single bite. Highlights include: Crispy Egg Yolk with Mushrooms Gelatin, Mille-feuille of Idiazábal, and Tatin of Foie Gras and Corn.
Overall, I'd 100% come back. If you like to spend your whole day eating, you should definitely come here. Maybe I'll come back for that beast Disfrutar menu and the wine pairing if I'm not jet-lagged again. Take a look at some of our pictures below if you're curious.
PRO TIP: We sat at the bar but there's a main dining area in the back with better ambiance. Unless you prefer bar seats, go sit in the dining area instead.
The lunch began with a Cocktail of Rum and Mint in the form of a frosty lady finger.
"The Beet That Comes Out of the Land" woke us up a bit. The server initially brought out a bowl of "dirt". But, after swirling the bowl in her hands, two red "beets" seemed to have magically appeared. These were light and airy.
This one was called Lychee and Roses with Gin. It came with what seemed to be a frozen lychee slush and two bubbles of gin floating in rose water.
Next, we had a treat of liquefied Salted Candy Walnuts (in front). Also, it came with a slide of soft, chilled mango seasoned with tonka beans and whisky. Remind me to make a whisky and mango cocktail in the future.
These Disfrutar Olives were dope. The server recommended that we eat each olive with one bite. Otherwise, we might risk having a messy encounter. The olives were actually made of cocoa butter and filled with liquid! These were slightly bitter and creamy.
The Disfrutar Olives came with a spoon of Mandarin Flower Essence. Its concentrated floral and citrus notes helped balance out some of the bitter flavors of the olives.
Above, you'll notice their "Instant Cider". It's made with Apple Juice, Liquor, and Dry Ice. The cider took about 10 minutes to make and the glasses were smoked with applewood right in front of us.
The Mille-feuille (pronounced "MEEL-FWAY") of Idiazábal (the "z" is properly pronounced with a lisp) was amazing!!! First of all, it arrived on some sort of artistic wooden structure. The Mille-feuille was light and crisp. The flavor was FULL CHEESE thanks to the Idiazábal, which is a rich, buttery sheep's milk cheese. It's got a captivating gamy taste. Really nice.
One of my favorite dishes was the Gazpacho Sandwich with Vinegar Garnish. The middle of the sandwich is made with dehydrated tomato meringue. The sherry vinegar garnish on the side was awesome. It was only meant to be smelled as we enjoyed the gazpacho. At first, I inhaled a bit too quickly and the vinegar made me choke. But, over time, the smell was addicting and went well with the gazpacho.
I liked how the Crispy Egg Yolk was presented. The exterior was fried and crispy. I'm not sure how they were able to do that given the egg inside was so delicate and soft. Underneath the egg, you'll find that the egg shell also contained an alluring Mushroom Gelatin substance.
These Mushroom "Dumplings" were served dim sum style in a small steamer basket. What was special about them? Honestly, I have no idea. They were stuffed with mushrooms and pine nuts.
This Ceviche Deconstruction was oddly very good. Sometimes deconstructed plates aren't that satisfying but this one was great. Each layer had a specific flavor profile that could be mixed and matched with one another.
The ceviche contained sweet monkfish cream, a red pepper sorbet, lime zest, and leche de tigre. Despite being such a small plate, this one took a while to eat because we wanted to enjoy all the different sweet, sour, salty, and spicy tastes.
This Macaroni Carbonara was totally strange. We liked it a lot but the macaroni was transparent and arrived without any creams or cheeses. We were confused.
Our server explained that the macaroni is transparent because it's made of gelatin.
Eventually, our server doused our macaroni with carbonara foam and shaved parmesan cheese. Then, it looked more like a carbonara.
The Tomato "Polvorón" was quite interesting. We have this in the Philippines but it's usually enjoyed as a sweet snack. Disfrutar's polvoron not only tasted like tomato but it also carried over the fruit's tanginess. On top,you'll notice what looks like fish roe but it's actually little balls of olive oil "caviar".
Liquid Salad. It sounds kind of strange but it's great. If you stop to taste the flavors, you'll notice there's a lot more going here than some blended veggies. It has a combination of both sweet, bitter, and sour flavors. If this doesn't get you into juicing, nothing will.
Next, our server explained that a Calçot is a traditional Catalan dish that involves grilling a green onion over fire. Since it was no longer calçot season, Disfrutar performed the same ritual with White Asparagus.
The white asparagus came with a caviar-like spheres of hazelnut oil. In the back, there was also a bitter sauce made with the charred asparagus skin.
The Langoustine in "Suquet" was wild. The word "Suquet" denotes that it is a Catalan fish stew. It was elegant but hearty. It came with a generous slice of langoustine - firm and juicy. It was garnished with soft gnocchi, saffron aioli, and some parsley foam.
The langoustine also came with a cappuccino "suquet", which was creamy and rich like a bisque.
This is the Cold Hare Juice. It's a cold soup that's meant to be enjoyed like a cocktail. It's topped with tarragon, orange zest, and armagnac. It really did smell like a cocktail! But, it tasted like soup.
I liked this one a lot!
To pair with the hare cocktail, our server brought out a Hare and Foie Gras Bonbon. It looked epic and black as if it were some alien substance. Inside, there was chocolate and foie. To top it off, Disfrutar added some edible silver paper.
This Laksa was the third of the hare sequence. I wasn't in love with this one but it was alright. It looked like a clam and was placed in a clam shell. The noodles even stuck out a little bit as if it were the foot of a clam. Yeah, that part of the clam that hangs out of the shell is called a "foot". #NowYouNgo
I liked this one a lot! The base of this dish was made with a slice of foie gras and a thin piece of tuile. While the corn on top looked like corn, they were actually spheres filled with liquid corn.
Each bite was full of explosive corn and foie flavor. I wanted more!!!
The Pibil-style Pigeon was the final entree before the desserts. The meat was tender and not gamy at all. This was probably some of the best pigeon I've had. It actually almost tasted like veal.
The accoutrements included pickled onions, corn on the cob, a sauce made of mainly coriander, and two egg yolks made through the spherification technique.
The spherification technique was introduced by elBulli in 2003. It involves a controlled jellification of a liquid which forms spheres when submerged in a bath.
Finally, we were ready for dessert. This dish was called Pandan, which is named after a tropical plant that grows in Southeast Asia. It has a unique taste and aroma that is reminiscent of coconut. It's also slightly citrusy and nutty in flavor.
The foam on the sides were made with pandan. At the base, we had a scoop of mango sorbet, mango pearls, and some pandan juice.
These Cheesecake Cornets were SO good. The cheesecake was surrounded by a delicate cone and topped with cherry ice cream.
These peppers weren't actually peppers. They were chocolate peppers and meant to imitate a chocolate and bread snack that children like to eat in Barcelona. We enjoyed these with a thin piece of crispy bread.
The "Tarta al Whisky" was like a deconstructed Whiskey Tart. But first, our server assisted us in pouring a few drops of Lagavulin 16 on our hands so that we could smell the whiskey's smoky and peaty flavors as we enjoyed this dish.
SO FUN. I smelled so good that I didn't even want to wipe my hands afterwards.
To end the meal, Disfrutar brought out a tree with little balls of cotton candy flavored with cocoa and mint.
Steph in a daze as she begins her journey through the 25+ courses at Disfrutar.
After the meal, we hung out on their patio. Honestly, it felt like a marathon of a meal and we needed to be outdoors for a bit. The patio is really nice.