Disfrutar is easily my favourite ‘fancy’ restaurant in Barcelona.
Yes it’s got 2 Michelin stars, but it is by no means defined by them.
No, to dine at Disfrutar is to set off on a truly thrilling gastronomic journey, an adventure filled with endless twists and turns, with provocative dishes and surprising wines – sake, sake, sake! – that take you to whole new sensory spaces.
I won’t go into the details of each dish/wine. The overall experience is very much one of discovery – your senses heightened, firing wildly on all cylinders. And it’s a discovery you need to make by yourself, without too much influence from people like me.
The team even recommend setting off on this culinary voyage without studying the menu beforehand. In fact, it’s withheld entirely (unless you ask for one of course) until after the meal. Instead, each dish, each pairing, is delivered to your table as a complete surprise, along with a detailed explanation and advice on the best way to enjoy it.
The result is akin to meditation, where you can dine mindfully and fully commit to each moment without being distracted by the thought of what’s coming next.
But the food itself really is only half of the overall experience. This fabled restaurant is a testament to hard work, team work and democracy.
What at first seems to be a frenzy of activity is actually a finely tuned ballet. From the warm welcome at the door to the perfectly timed wine parings and dishes, many of which are prepared at your table, the theatre of it all really is a spectacular sight to see.
Each team member is on an equal footing. I noted that, after a small spillage at the pass, rockstar head chef (and all round lovely bloke) Oriol Castro was the first to get down on his hands and knees to start cleaning up. No fuss. No screaming and shouting. No Gordon Ramsey-style egotism.
While chatting with chefs Eduard and Oriol, who kindly showed me their brand new wine cellar (now visible to diners via a specially made window) and development kitchen, I congratulated them on their second Michelin star and impressive team.
But it was clear that the true reward for them was not the stars, not the adulation from above, but the satisfaction of their guests and continued development of their art form.
“The Michelin stars don’t mean anything if you don’t enjoy (Disfrutar means enjoy in Spanish) the experience, if you are not surprised,” Eduard explained while pointing out a collection of new food staging props they’d been playing around with.
“What’s important to us is that we continue to create exciting new dishes. If you come back, like you have, some years later and we don’t have anything new and exciting to show you…”
“Are you like brothers now?” I asked in reference to the fact the chefs work together from 9am to 1am five days a week.
“Oh, more than brothers,” Eduard replied, with a chuckle from Oriol. “We are together all the time, every day. I’m with my brother only once per month, or less.”
And as you step back out into Barcelona, into the normality of everyday life, with the magic of some 30 dishes (and wine pairings) buzzing through your mind, you feel – apart from a little woozy – that you have gained new friends, nay heroes, in this talented team. A level of respect that no number of Michelin stars could ever manifest.
Make it Happen
If you want a truly memorable dining experience in Barcelona and don’t mind spending around €200 per person (with the wine pairing), I would highly recommend booking a table at Disfrutar.
Dive into the Gran Festival menu (as I did on this visit) or the Gran Classic menu (as I did on my last visit).
And, yes, definitely go all in on the wine pairing too.
Book online: www.disfrutarbarcelona.com/bookings
Book by phone: +34 933 486 896
Gracias to the amazing team at Disfrutar Barcelona for hosting me. I couldn’t have had a better time.