Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas, head chefs of elBulli for years, debut their Barcelona restaurant with a double tasting menu format. We review, dish by dish, the Menú Festival.
It opened on December 9 as this trio of chefs’, turned gastroentrepreneurs in recent years, second project and as their first space in Barcelona. Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas were, for years, head chefs of elBulli, the restaurant of Cala Montjoi (Girona) from which Ferran Adriá and his team branded a gastronomic revolution of global significance, until it closed as a restaurant on the 30 of July 2011. In May 2012, these three chefs, who in the last three years have been key players in the elBullifoundation project, debuted as entrepreneurs with the inauguration of Compartir, in Cadaqués (you can read an article on Oriol Castro’s presentation in Culinary Action Madrid here).
Arrival to Barcelona
Now, Castro, Eduard and Mateu tackle their second project, baptized as Disfrutar, this time with the challenge of making a dent in Barcelona, with expectations generated around its opening and with some opinions that have pointed in its first days that their concept signifies, in part, the return of elBulli. Disfrutar is not elBulli, but it is inevitable that the philosophy, techniques, style, flavors and the hallmarks of Cala Montjoi are identified in almost all of their dishes, sinces these three cooks were for years key pieces in the work and creativity of the restaurant headed by Ferran Adriá.
Those who have been fortunate to have visited elBulli in its day will find here memories; those who have never stepped in that space will have in Disfrutar a route to closely learn about the bullinian universe. In any case, the humility, the perfectionist zeal and creativity of Castro, Eduard and Mateu mark a project proposed and managed from a prudent standpoint and that, in its first two weeks, has filled their tables and has managed to have the ‘Full’ sign hanging fifteen days in advance.
To Share and Enjoy
If these cooks have applied their bullinian culture to a mediterranean menu in Compartir (where the snacks ‘made in Bulli’ coexist with rations to nibble on from the center of the table, fishes of the day and rices), now they seem to be taking a step toward haute cuisine in Disfrutar, where each dish is one hundred percent gastronomic and where the use of technique is more evident than in Compartir. In any case, of course, a visit to this space in the city known as Ciudad Condal, named to reap success, is certainly well worth a visit.
Located in front of the Mercado de El Ninot, Disfrutar consists of two spaces separated by the kitchen which is in full view by its patrons and is set up in two areas around a corridor that joins a bar and the first lounge with dining room in the back, that, at the same time has access to a patio-garden, designed for after-dining conversation and smoking. On the lower floor are the bathrooms.
Although Castro, Eduard and Mateu initially planned to implement an innovative tasting menu á la carte format, they finally ruled it out and, instead, they have opted for two menus to “facilitate our logistics and the diner’s choise”, argues Eduard Xatruch. “A tasting menu à la carte scheme complicates the organization and, at least, to start, we have discarded it. We will see later”, adds Oriol Castro. The two tasting menus with which the restaurant operates, more or less extensive, are Disfrutar, with 19 dishes, at a Price of 65 euros (including VAT, excluding drinks); and Festival, with 25 ‘recipes’, for 95 euros. Both start with hot and cold snacks before moving on to various types of starters, molluscs, fish, meats and desserts.
The interior design of Disfrutar carries the signature of El Equipo Creativo, an architecture and multidisciplinary interior design studio specialized in the creation of spaces for gastronomy, headed by the architects Oliver Franz Schmidt and Natali Canas del Pozo.
Dish by dish, we present the Festival Menu that we tried a few days ago in Disfrutar (the name of each dish appears above each photo;there is a space marked with a line thats separates the blocks in which the menu is organized):
The beet that comes from the land
Crispy bow with cured Iberian bacon
Candied (garrapiñadas) hazelnuts with elderberry
Tomato ‘polvorón’ and caviaroli arbequina
Pesto-filled transparent ravioli
Disfruta de la aceituna
Smoked Idiazábal cheese biscuit with apple
Crispy egg yolk with mushroom gelatin
Seafood and avocado merengue sandwich
Anchovies and almond ‘mató’ with truffle, fir honey and pine nuts
Marinated mackerel with cauliflower taboulé and mushrooms
Our macaroni a la carbonara (this dish is displayed in three steps)
Scallop marrow with Oscietra caviar
Mussels with peas in ‘salsa verde’
Razor clams with truffle cream and ice plant
Red mullet with pork jowls and aubergine gnocchi
Catalan cream bread with blood orange cous-cous
Chocolate peppers, oil and salt
Disfrutar. Villarroel, 163. Barcelona. Tel. 93 348 68 96
Menú Disfrutar: 65 euros
Menú Festival: 95 euros
(Prices include VAT, exclusive of drinks)
Closed on Sundays and Mondays
Photographs by: MFG-Gastroeconomy.