Hola from Barcelona! It’s been 11 years since I was last here and of course my top mission was to visit 2017’s most anticipated restaurant opening— Albert Adria’s ENIGMA— which did just that just last January 3. When I met Albert in Istanbul last December at Gastromasa, he shared that he was really busy with opening Enigma and it was his hundred percent focus. It’s so highly talked about because 1) it’s been in the works for three years, 2) there’s been very little published about it– especially the food– you’ll find out why later, 3) reservations can only be done on their website (no phone, no email) accepted with a maximum notice of 2 months in advance, and with a down payment of 100 euros. While it’s already fully booked til June 2017 (by then they will reopen again for the rest of the year), they foresee cancellations so they encourage frequent visits to their websites.
So at Enigma, while you are allowed to take photos (for personal use only), publishing them– even on social media– without any authorization is strictly prohibited. This is especially the case for the food. This is because they want to keep the element of surprise, for each and every one of their guests. Completely fair. (Just for the record, before writing this blog post, I asked permission from the ENIGMA team, and the ones that I’m putting up here are all authorized. I also don’t want to ruin your experience– there are no spoilers here, don’t worry.)
So yes, what you’ve read is true: you do move from station to station, within the 7,500+ square-meter-space (it almost feels like a maze) encased in translucent resin walls and ceilings made from wire mesh lit with 2,500 LED lights. It reportedly cost 3 million euros to build.
It’s a very interactive, futuristic dining experience, with 42 courses (including cocktails, so if you don’t drink, you have to be upfront about it; they do have alternatives) set within around 7 different dining stations– including a Spanish bodega station and a Japanese teppanyaki one, too. Enigma is led by charming head chef Oliver Pena, who was chef at Albert’s 41 Degrees, and head bartender Marc Alvarez, also from 41 Degrees is also here. Sommelier Cristina Losada also comes from their El Barri group of restaurants.
The menu is priced at 220 euros per person, with an additional 90 euros for sake and wine pairing, or you can also order a bottle from their wine list. It will change with every experience though, of course. We started at 9pm and finished at almost 2am (that’s almost 5 hours!) and there’s a wonderful surprise at the end of the journey, and I don’t want to spoil it.
I never made it to El Bulli (it closed in 2011) but based on what I’ve read, Enigma is El Bulli 2.0– the reincarnated El Bulli in its future. One of my favorite things about it is that Albert gives credit to every one of his team and all their full names are listed in the menu, given to you at the end.
Albert Adria has often said that he creates “not food but an experience.” And this for sure was it. I’m always fascinated about how the genius minds of the Adria brothers, Ferran and Albert, work, and incredibly grateful and happy I’ve been able to experience ENIGMA. It’s now one of the few restaurants in the world that diners will come in and not know what to expect. In this age where we Google everything before going, it’s nice to be surprised (again and again and again within 5 hours.) Now that is an experience. I can tell you that it’s wonderful though and I can’t wait for you to experience it, too. xx
For more information on ENIGMA, visit their website here.