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What to Order at Disfrutar, Second on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List

The Barcelona restaurant offers a parade of daring and fun Mediterranean dishes

by Terry Zarikian

September 26, 2023

Dining room / Photo: Courtesy of Joan Valera

Celebrating its ninth anniversary, Disfrutar—which translates to “enjoy”—is the restaurant that may be as close as possible to what the legendary El Bulli would be today. After working at El Bulli for 15 years, Mateu Casañas, Oriol Castro and Eduard Xatruch are continuing the creative disciplines that Ferran and Albert Adrià instilled in them back in the mid ’90s. Disfrutar’s gastronomic philosophy goes beyond El Bulli’s molecular cuisine fame and morphs into an avant-garde way of understanding cuisine itself, with a parade of daring and fun dishes showcasing a Mediterranean vibe.

Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas / Photo: Courtesy of Joan Valera

A narrow entrance, easily overlooked for its lack of glamour, is misleading, but as soon as we walk by the busy kitchen, we arrive in the cavernous white and tan main dining room. I can still remember my first visit and the joy I felt to discover this dynamic trio of Bullinianos creating food magic.

I was struck by the vibrant flavors and textures of the corn and foie multi-sphere tatin and, right after that, the most exquisite dish I have ever had: Panchino, a light brioche-dough foam quickly fried to crispy heaven, filled with sour cream and the best beluga caviar. I could not resist enjoying a second one.

Multi-sphere pesto with eel and pistachio / Photo: Courtesy of Francesc Guillamet

Tradition is presented with whimsical twists. For instance, the emblematic Gilda appears with its ingredients reconfigured: The green olive is in liquid form with piparra pepper seeds, alongside a mildly cured caballa mackerel instead of an anchovy. The spectacular gazpacho sandwich with oloroso vinagre de Jerez features a frozen tomato meringue and tomato cream accompanied by a glass of 25-year-old sherry vinegar. Each bite fills, satisfies and dissipates into thin air.

On a recent visit, I was treated to my favorite Panchino and the Coca-Pizza, a flourless pie with black truffle and running burrata. Then came the crispy egg yolk, a tempura-fried yolk resting on an eggshell half filled with a potent mushroom redux. A display of chocolate wedding rings appeared, followed by a black apple, slow-aged to a state of ebony caramelization, with a flourless crisp puff dough and toasted-butter ice cream. A parting flavor: black sesame cornet filled with sesame yogurt and wild field strawberries, a sober visual with a deliciously sparkling taste. Today Disfrutar ranks second on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, so snag a reservation as soon as possible.