Eating Out

The Futuristic Menu at Enigma Concept – Barcelona, Spain

And the longest tasting menu award goes to…Enigma Concept for their 40+ courses, but after 20 or so who’s counting anymore? From the creative mind of Albert Adrià (of the elBarri restaurant empire and elBulli fame), Enigma Concept is a culinary journey into a futuristic dream world. While I did enjoy the experience, I felt that the overall concept was trying a little too hard.

On first impression, the muted grey tones of the walls, decor, and custom made furniture jumped out. This, along with the purposefully wrinkled garments of the service staff and the odd, ice-looking ceiling made a loud statement – this wasn’t going to be a typical dinner experience. Over 4.5 hours, we were lead through six uniquely themed rooms, including two interactive chef’s tables.

To note: For the initial year or so after opening, diners were requested to not post any photos of the meal. When we visited in May 2018 though, they were very open to photos and had no policy about posting publicly. Therefore all photos I captured are shared here for your viewing pleasure. If you don’t want spoilers, please don’t continue reading.

Ryokan

The first room was named after the traditional Kyoto ryokan inns. We were served a fermented yuca and pumpkin “unclarified” consume. When we asked the server how a consume could be unclarified, she wasn’t sure. This response was about the average level of service we got from the Engima wait staff. Luckily half the rooms had direct interaction with chefs, who were more than happy to explain the dishes.

Enigma Concept - Dinnerware on display in the "ryokan" room
Dinnerware on display in the “ryokan” room

La Cava

Next we moved to the cave room, named after a wine cellar in the room that was not obviously visible. Here we had a series of small bites paired with a couple cocktails. We were also given a wine list. When we asked for a crisp, light white for dinner, the sommelier recommended a biodynamic Spanish white that was indeed very bright and great on its own. However the oak was overpowering and a very poor pairing for the seafood heavy first half.

The small bites here were some of the strongest on the menu. The demistrawberry was an epitome of the perfect strawberry. The pistachio air pancake dissolved nicely on the tongue. An elderflower “ravioli” with strawberry and blackcurrant notes (not pictured) had a delightful cotton candy texture.

Enigma Concept - Raspbery pod, quinoa, fennel
Raspbery pod, quinoa, fennel

Barra

The third room was all seafood courses and my favorite room of the night thanks to the engaging personality of Executive Chef Oliver Peña. This room had just six diners around a chef’s table. We had a front row seat to the preparation of the five courses here.

Enigma Concept - La Barra Room
La Barra Room – Got to sit right next to Chef Peña’s station
Enigma Concept - Daikon Miroir, wasabi, dashi. Oyster & Lemon
Daikon Miroir, wasabi, dashi. Oyster & lemon

The sea cucumber served two ways contrasted the spaghetti-like tubules with the sliced body. The dashi broth was a refreshing pairing.

Enigma Concept - Sea cucumber spaghetti with "pil pil" sauce
Sea cucumber spaghetti with “pil pil” sauce, sea cucumber slices with iberian dashi

The whole red prawn head was visually very neat to see. It was raw, or nearly raw, in texture and surprisingly gamey for shrimp. A very unique dish, served with the more familiar tail in a clear, chilled seaweed broth.

Enigma Concept - Red prawn head and tail, herb, seaweed
Red prawn head and tail, herb, seaweed

My favorite course in this room was the mullet and ikura roe trio. Chef Peña mentioned they usually have mullet roe to go along with the other two mullet courses, but they ran out and substituted the arguably better ikura. Watching the chef cut open the egg sac was a new experience for me.

Enigma Concept - Ikura roe sack
Ikura roe sack
Enigma Concept - Mullet paté lollipop. Cured red mullet, mullet head oil, fried scales. Ikura roe.
Mullet paté lollipop. Cured red mullet, mullet head oil, fried scales. Ikura roe.

Dinner

The “dinner” room was where the bulk of the tasting menu was served. Here we had a reverse progression with the heavier dishes served first. The servers purposefully didn’t tell us the ingredients before each dish, letting us guess what we ate along the way.

The first course of wild pigeon was not my favorite, as the pigeon was too gamey for my taste.

Enigma Concept - Wild Pigeon, nori, chicken skin
Wild Pigeon, nori, chicken skin

Next was one of the more visually stunning dishes – an air croissant with pigeon sauce. The pigeon sauce was a surprisingly good savory pairing to the light, shattering crisp and buttery croissant. This dish was made by pumping up croissant dough with air prior to baking. A video of the impressive process can be seen here.

Enigma Concept - "Pate en Croute"
“Pate en Croute” – air croissant with pigeon sauce

The artichoke rose salad was one of my favorite dishes as I am very partial to mild, nutty taste and soft texture of artichoke. The edible bits of the plant were skillfully cooked and arranged.

Enigma Concept - Artichoke & Roses Salad, laurencia seaweed
Artichoke & Roses Salad, laurencia seaweed
Enigma Concept - Cockscomb & Porcini, pickled onion
Cockscomb & Porcini, pickled onion

The white asparagus had an intriguing progression of texture – from the completely cooked, almost mushy base to the raw, crunchy tip. While the technique was impressive, the actual dish wasn’t as satisfying as an evenly cooked, crisp asparagus.

Enigma Concept - The White Asparagus
The White Asparagus – boiled vertically so it gradually went from completely soft at the base to raw at the tip, finished in charcoal

La Planxa

This was another chef’s table room and my second favorite room of the night. Though the food wasn’t as strong, I enjoyed the interactive experience here with the chef from Peru. We sat around a large plancha grill with Japanese charcoal grills on the side. The five courses here were very Japanese influenced as well.

The stracciatella with yuba (tofu skin) and caviar was a decadent and creamy start.

Enigma Concept - Stracciatella & Caviar Yuba
Stracciatella & Caviar Yuba
Enigma Concept - Squid with soy sauce, sesame
Squid with soy sauce, sesame

The tamogamochi was a nice hybrid of egg and mochi texture, filled with a burst of brightness from the ginger and cilantro.

Enigma Concept - Eel "Tamagomochi"
Eel “Tamagomochi”, garlic, ginger, cilantro

Not pictured was a truffled wagyu from Chile, which was perhaps the best quality yakiniku I’ve had, but seemed like a waste of wagyu by serving it well done.

The chawanmushi was also unfortunately a weaker dish, with the white truffle flavors too muted and under-seasoned overall.

Dinner, Continued

After the Planxa interlude, it was back to the Dinner room with perhaps the most memorable dish of the night. We were not told this was rabbit brain beforehand, and though it was palatable, it had an unfamiliar texture, especially compared to the walnut.

Enigma Concept - Rabbit brain and walnut
Rabbit brain and walnut
Enigma Concept - White anchovies & trout roe dango, dashi, wasabi
White anchovies & trout roe dango, dashi, wasabi
Enigma Concept - Quail with Roses
Quail with Roses, rose petal, macadamia, quail sauce, rose water

The olive oil course I enjoyed since I like the knowledge gained from side-by-side comparisons. The smokey, robust Roble was my favorite.

Enigma Concept - Four olive oils in tomato jelly. Argudell, Picual, Arbequina, Roble
Four olive oils in tomato jelly. Argudell, Picual, Arbequina, Roble
Enigma Concept - 3 leches
3 leches. Lime leche de tigre, soy milk flan, coconut milk fat

The baby almonds in this next dish could have been tiny grapes for all I knew! The texture was very grape-like and very neat to experience.

Enigma Concept - "Crystal" baby almonds
“Crystal” baby almonds, green almond juice, avocado, hibiscus, licorice, orange zest

Next came the desserts! The soy sauce pineapple and mustard ice cream were a great harmony of savoriness. The chocopic dessert was a decedent, darker chocolate accented with bright cabernet sauvignon vinegar.

Perhaps my favorite was the black sesame ice cream hidden under a fluffy yuzu yogurt cream with seaweed for texture contrast.

Enigma Concept - Furikaki - yogurt cream with yuzu, black sesame ice cream
Furikaki – yogurt cream with yuzu, black sesame ice cream (hidden)

41°

After the desserts, we were led to a hidden room behind a storage closet. The surprise final room was a replica of the shuttered 41° bar. Here we enjoyed craft cocktails paired with small treats.

Enigma Concept - 41 Degrees is the surprise final room
41 Degrees was the surprise final room
Enigma Concept - Ginori cocktail. Nori millefeuilles, Yuzu crystal, Parmesan sphere
Ginori cocktail. Nori millefeuilles, Yuzu crystal, Parmesan sphere
Enigma Concept - chocolates. "Water coffee"
Kumquat, black sesame & soy sauce chocolates. “Water coffee” – mezcal, bergamot liquor.

Service

While I appreciated the process behind the courses and interacting with the talented chefs, the service from the wait staff left some to be desired. As noted before, the wine recommendation was pretty terrible given the menu.

Small details were also missed like water preferences. We were given a choice of sparkling or still in the second room, but not given water until the third room. They also poured me the wrong water preference, but then got it right in the fourth room.

General knowledge of the courses was also much worse than expected for a restaurant of this caliber.

Overall though, the wonderful chefs made my experience a positive one. Chef Peña and my husband really hit it off with food talk, and Chef even surprised us with a bag of Kuzu root starch which my husband had asked about earlier in the meal.

Though I’m not sure I would go back, I was glad to be able to experience Enigma Concept.

Enigma Concept - With Chef Oliver Peña
With Chef Oliver Peña
Enigma Concept - Menu signed by Chef Peña
Menu signed by Chef Peña
Enigma Concept - Dinner Menu May 2018
Dinner Menu May 2018

4 thoughts on “The Futuristic Menu at Enigma Concept – Barcelona, Spain

  1. So, would you go back? Overall did you have a good experience? Going to Enigma in August. I hope I won’t get disappointed. Is there a dress code? How much would you say to give as tip? Last question, you mentioned it took about 4.5 hours. How did you get back to your hotel? I’m presuming it’s safe at that time?

    1. I wouldn’t go back, but I did think it was a good experience! There are few fine dining places I really want to revisit, as there are too many new ones.

      There is no dress code. Most diners were dressed up, but I felt like jeans would have been fine too.

      Like most places outside of the US, tips are built into the prices and there is no tip line.

      We took uber everywhere. It felt safe though in that neighborhood. People are still out at midnight in Spain, as there is a culture of not eating dinner until 8 or 9 pm.

  2. Thanks for your feedback. It’s muxh appreciated. Our dinner reservation is for 8:30pm so we probably won’t finish until 1am. Do you recommend doing the wine pairing or just getting a bottle of wine, although you had mentioned they didn’t suggest such a good bottle?

    1. I’m not sure I could recommend the pairing given how bad the somm’s bottle recommendation was, but maybe the pre-planned curation would be better. If you have an idea of the wines you like, you could ask for a wine list ahead of time and research bottles so you are ready with options on arrival.

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