The thin line that separates savory and sweet creative cuisine is even finer at Disfrutar, a delicious gastronomic adventure in Barcelona’s Eixample that has been shaking up the already effervescent culinary moment the city is experiencing since barely a year ago. Leading it is Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, and Mateu Casañas, three essential architects of the wonderful work that was elBulli. Now they enjoy themselves with a fresh cuisine in terms of creativity, which is playful and cheerful, Mediterranean but universal, technically sophisticated yet classic with flavors and combinations, sweet and savory, savory and sweet. A daring but coherent, meditated and designed proposal with the advantage provided from having lived at the epicenter of the world’s culinary creativity for nearly two decades.
In the golden age of elBulli, Ferran Adrià publicly commented that some of his highest collaborators were more than able to open their own restaurant and position it among the best. And once again he was right. After Compartir (his first restaurant which opened four years ago in Cadaqués, on the Costa Brava), Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, and Mateu Casañas now invite us to Disfrutar, where they practice creativity which is, of course, ‘the cuisine which we like and know,’ said Castro, but in a consistent and reasonable way. And in evolution: “customers ask us for constant movement,” concludes Xatruch.
A delicious passion fruit ice cream cup opens a menu stuffed with nods, games, appearance and flavor, lots of flavor. The beet coming out of the ground with gin rose petals or the walnut cookie and smoked Idiazábal cheese ice cream will ‘slip’ between other proposals which are arguably more savory. Nothing squeaks. It all sounds coherent. And everything has a rhythm that keeps curiosity alive until the end. The culmination comes with an eccentric Whisky Cake which, to fully enjoy, the waiter sprays the diner’s hands with a splash of Talisker so that the aroma of the distinguished Malta is present while the hazelnut isomalt amber, a yuzu and egg yolk cream, and a vanilla cream are being tasted.
Many customers from elBulli have come and they are very happy when they leave, it makes us very excited. But it’s not the same as elBulli. It can’t be nor do we intend it to be. It’s a new stage in our careers.
‘We work from ideas that result in dishes and they shape the menu, you add and do a little everyday. We have a structure that we maintain: a welcome cocktail and some drier snacks, then hot appetizers, then dishes/tapas, pre-desserts and desserts. We make new dishes and we incorporate them. We play around with sequences, so that everything has a coherence and meaning. Sometimes we create a dish we can’t incorporate because it would mean making drastic changes to the menu’, says Eduard Xatruch.
‘We clearly maintain the spirit of elBulli. We continue cooking as we learned there, the way we are and know. Many customers from elBulli have come and they are very happy when they leave, it makes us very excited. There is always some comment about how this is not the same as elBulli. Of course not. It can’t be nor do we intend it to be. It’s a new stage in our careers’ adds Oriol Castro.
And all this takes place in a clear, bright, very Mediterranean space, a place designed so that one can enjoy a unique experience, without formalities or reverences. ‘We don’t want people to be afraid to cough or laugh out loud in Disfrutar’, concludes Xatruch.
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