Enigma restaurant. Sepúlveda 38, Barcelona. Menú: 222 euros.
“If your answer after going to Enigma is: I didn’t like it, they haven’t understood anything”, Ferrán Adrià tells me while we chat at the BulliLab. This comment reminds us that a simple opinion is not enough, and that this place deserves to be honoured and respected as it is. Coming up with this conceptual, enigmatic gastronomical experience is something not be taken lightly. There is work behind, a lot, and coming from great professionals.
January 3rd 2017 Enigma, Albert Adria’s gastronomical and most awaited lab, opened its doors in Barcelona after years of delay. Alex, my husband, secretly had made the reservation a year ago, January 12th 2016 and we got the table exactly a year after, being a total surprise that came to me the day before. Albert Adrià, chef Ferran Adria’s brother and parter of El Barri (Tickets, Pakta, Bodega 1900, Niño Viejo & Hoja Santa) wants us to keep the whole experience an Enigma, so I will give no spoilers. I was asked not to take pictures of food, only of the interior design, and so I did, I hope you are not dissapointed.
But I will tell a bit about the experience so you get an idea. You are sent via email a username and a password code that are necessary to open the inhospitable door to the restaurant. You enter alone through a hallway of transparent cristal curtains, interiorism by architect studio RCR (same ones that did the unique hotel and restaurant Les Cols). Everything is cold and mysterious, a feeling like you are in Cryptonite (Superman’s birth place), but as soon as they reception you, the coldness dissipates with the service’s professionalism. You already know that you will be around the presence of best service. About 50 are the employees there, and are all excited, talented and hard workers that attend you with a smile. We decide to do the menu followed by amazing drinks, and the laberyntic adventure starts, going from one stage to the other finding in each one a unique and exquisite experience.
Dishes are elaborate, very creative, with many exciting ingredients cooked and presented in beautiful ways that make you travel in a world of senses. We really enjoyed the whole experience, though a bit long at the end (but not so much like the other gastronomical extra long menues), but deffinetely worth it.
I also would have stayed forever at the teppanyaki, a wonderful stop that I believe brings you to a meditative state watching how the chefs harmoniously cook in front of your eyes while you hear the sound people whispering near you and the reaction of the steel plate when being touched by the product. Fish is treated gently and with respect and dishes have little intervention in this part. Here is where we found the second gastronomical responsible of Enigma Oliver Peña whith whom we had a very nice talk about all the work behind this project.
And something else I really enjoyed was the part when we were seated and instead of presenting the creation, they make you try it and name the ingredients later. A playful game that made me be an active participant and not a passive subject. That is a different approach to food that made me be much more aware of the flavors and textures, especially to be more present. I cant tell much to keep it an enigma, but I can say we really enjoyed the experience.
You finish the itinerary at cocktail bar 41º, a reminiscence of the one that lasted a year next to Tickets, where you can stay and try the last petit fours while savoring a cocktail.
Food is presented by creations by Roos van de Velde and ceramics from Carme Balada or Luesma & Vega. You can breath art, talent, hard work and creativity everywhere. A curious fact: the next day to our dinner, Ferrán Adrià was coming for lunch, and we could feel the nerves and excitement to present him the new creations and get the best honest feedback ever.
Good luck to Albert Adrià and his team in this new enigmatic adventure.