Fine Dining

3 big well deserved michelin stars for Disfrutar

I was lucky enough to eat at Disfrutar just the day before the would be awarded their  third Michelin star. This was just my second visit to Disfrutar and the first was just 1,5 years earlier. At that visit I remember loving it for its flavor and being impressed by its techniques. In addition to its 3 stars it’s also rated as the second best restaurant in the World by W50B which is an extraordinary accomplishment. I was therefore extremely curious to see how the restaurant had evolved since my last visit.

Besides the normal glass of water they would also start the serving with two flavored water. One flavored with cacao and the other lulo which is a South American fruit. More than anything it was an impressive technical achievement. After all I never heard about anybody else flavoring water. A big plus in terms of dedication as well. After all which other restaurants do you know that goes to these lengths for a water serving

After that a cocktail in the form of a fig leaf margarita merengue with a bit of nutmeg. A very nice palette cleanser without the heavy use of alcohol from a normal cocktail.

The next dish would be the most simple dish of the evening at least by the looks of it. In front of me laid 7 different sprouts. Each had a very concentrated flavor from the plant it would grow into. How on earth they managed that I don’t know because I am certain they did more than just pick it. A dish that was both intellectually challenging, simple and generally just extremely interesting all at the same time.

From here it was time for a salat. It would naturally not be a normal salat but a liquid one to be as well as a tomato powder mousse. I especially liked the tomato mouse for its flavor and texture.

The next dish would mark a small change in the menu. From the investigatory and intellectually challenging we would introduce absolutely and uncompromorising deliciousness. This from a classic dish in the form of a Chinese bun filled with generous amounts of caviar and sour crème. It was simple and very delicious. Paired with a vodka with generous amount of truffles made the impression of luxury complete.

The same can be said for the next dish. A super thin waifer was served with caviar and what they called “solid bubbles of smoked butter”. I am sure you can write papers about the techniques it took to make those bubbles which they said came from frozen butter. I will just say that it was finger licking delicious.

Theatrics is a new element introduced as part of the menu at Disfrutar. In came a box with view of an aerated “moss” topped with lots of caviar. Reaching into the box to grab the snack you see that its an optical illusion. The snack is not placed where you think it is but in a different compartment. These kind of small tricks works when the food is as excellent as it is at Disfrutar. If not they fall to the ground as cheap gimmicks in stead of elevating the experience as it does here. Another great example of how they work very seriously with the pairing was a wasabi “wine”. Naturally super interesting concept and also very delicious.

The next dish would be “aerated bread” which wasn’t really bread but Chinese rice paper and topped with burrada and porcini mushrooms like a pizza. Naturally the flavor was amazing and the techniques impressive. 

A common used tool at Disfrutar is to present classic dishes in new interpretations. The first dish of the evening to do that was an olive mousse with tomato salat. Great flavors and I loved the presentation.

From here a crunchy mushroom shaped like a leaf. It was like porcini mushrooms on steroids and the texture and presentation was just astonishing. 

To stay in the mushroom theme we would have a mushroom escabeche with an oyster and sugary pine one. I really liked the strong vinegar feel from the pickled mushrooms but it wasn’t a dish that blew me away.

The next dish was one of my favorites of the evening. I can use two different approaches to describe the same dish to make you think it is two different dishes.

  1. The most rich and delicious onion soup I have ever had. It had all the classic flavors with a deep sweet and umami flavor from the onions that had been fried over a very long period of time.
  2. A deconstructed and molecular version of a a onion soup that plays with its traditional elements but in different temperatures and textures that you would normally expect 

Needless to say that I loved the dish for how it merged amazing traditional flavors with modern techniques

Multiple spherification has been used at Disfrutar for a long time to further delvelop the techniques they created at El Bulli. It’s safe to say that the next dish made beautifully use of it to serve cuttlefish with Catalan peas and a bit of sausage. 

The next dish was one of my favorites of the evening. On a few occasions I have cooked calcotada at home, but when I do I don’t grill it only to freeezy dry it, nor do I make it into powder only do rehydrate it or use a katsuobuchi broth. They do at Disfrutar and for that reason it was EXTREMELY delicious. It’s again a dish like the onion soup where they use their incredible skill set to enhance the original flavor and make it the best version of that. Other chefs will use techniques to turn it into something completely different whereas this approach allows them to pay homage to the original idea while still presenting the customer with something they recognize. Lastly the texture and the end of all of this was mind blowing as well.

The next dish was called Fear. In came a box with a bit of smoke. You were asked to put in your hand and take out your next dish naturally not knowing what’s inside. Inside was a humble and delicious prawn which quality is impressive. A playful dish and nice to see that not everything they do has to be extremely complicated.

The next dish was called golden egg. Only after eating the dish they would say what the egg that was placed with its egg yolk infact was. It was a nice Singaporean chili crab sauce served with egg whites and other Southeast Asian flavors such as peanuts and coriander.

As a last savoury dish they would serve squab with an amasake kombi spaghetti as well as sauces made of almond and grape. A lovely kombination where the amasake highlighted the iron flavor in the squash.

Together with a variation of snacks made of microwaved Parmesan cheese there would be a smoky cider. The snacks were to be eaten looking at a mirror. The idea was that you never see your self eat but always just other people so why not turn that koncept around. A fun small concept and again a nice gimmick to change the dining experience and add new layers to it. 

As the first real dessert I would have a dish which they called flower explosion. Different flower leafs had been freeze dried for texture. They were served with a passion fruit crème and beeswax. I absolutely loved both the presentation and the fresh floral flavors. Just an impressive dish. 

We would continue with variations of pumpkin that had been treated in nixtamale like you do with corn to make tortillas. A surprising technique but it didn’t blow me away.

We would finish the desserts on a sweet note with a Waldorf salad. A sweet dessert but naturally not through the use of sugar but the natural sweetness of the ingredients including the classic walnuts, melon, apples and celery. 

I would finish this impressive experience with the most elaborated presentation of petit fours I have ever seen. In and around a bonsai tree laid 4 different petit fours. All naturally innovative and delicious. A fitting ending to this evening.

Before going to Barcelona I asked several people who they were hoping for would get 3 Michelin stars. Almost everybody said Disfrutar. I can easily say that it is extremely well deserved. The food is still every bit as delicious as it was the first time I tried it 1,5 years ago, the techniques and service is still impressive but now they have added a few gimmicks in the experience. Gimmicks that to me highlight the experience of the evening and gimmicks that all has a purpose. In addition to this I thought that especially the pairing had improved a lot with a few more unconventional and creative pairings like the wasabi wine and the flavored water.

First and foremost I always look for flavor in restaurants and I strongly believe that Disfrutar hasn’t not gotten enough credit for their flavor. It has always been their incredible use and creation of techniques that gets the attention where as their flavors are overlooked. It’s extremely rare that I see a restaurant that manages to combine flavor and techniques in this manner. Rated 2 in the World by World 50 Best 2024 might just be the year where they take the final step up as World number 1.

Practical information

Location: Barcelona

Head chef: Eduardo Cerró and Oriol Castro

Menu: Tasting menu 275€


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