Dining at 2017’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Opening– Albert Adria’s ENIGMA in Barcelona

Albert Adria's Enigma is 2017's most highly anticipated restaurant opening-- which they did just last January 3. I feel so grateful and lucky to have been able to dine here. It's a futuristic dining experience, with 42 courses set within 7 different dining stations. I never made it to El Bulli but based on what I've read, this is El Bulli 2.0-- the present and future.

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 openingAlbert 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. 

I should probably tell you that there are quite a number of cocktails within the Enigma menu, so if you're a lightweight, honesty is the best policy (they have alternatives anyway). But if not, lucky ducky you..Let's go!!
There are quite a number of cocktails within the Enigma menu, so if you’re a lightweight, honesty is the best policy (they have alternatives anyway). But if not, lucky ducky you..Let’s go!! *This is a kind of revolutionary cocktail at Enigma: first take the sliver of ice and let it melt in your tongue, before enjoying the nori-infused vodka concoction.

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.

Enigma Concept- Barcelona- Surprise
I’d really rather not tell you though.

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.

Love how credit is given to every single person on the Enigma team. Full names too.
Love how credit is given to every single person on the Enigma team. Full names too.

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

Lucky ducks! Me, Claudia Von and Mikkel Steen Andersen at Enigma :)
Lucky ducks! Me and my friends Claudia Sofia Von and Mikkel Steen Andersen at Enigma, post 42 courses later :)
Enigma was a really special experience. I can't wait for you to experience it, too.
Enigma was a really special experience. I can’t wait for you to experience it, too– and let’s keep the enigma ALIVE!

For more information on ENIGMA, visit their website here.