After eight years of building a food empire, Albert Adrià has opened the doors to the final, and perhaps most elusive attraction in his Barcelona-based culinary theme park. Welcome to the magical and secretive world of Enigma.
Enigma’s tables and chairs look at though they were carved from blocks of ice.
Mr. Adrià was El Bulli’s pastry chef where he worked for 23 years alongside his brother, Ferran Adrià, its creative force. After El Bulli closed, Albert Adrià struck out on his own, creating seven successful restaurants in eight years. Now armed with experience, determination and self-confidence, he now has reinterpreted El Bulli. The end result is Enigma.
Since its opening in January, 2017, Enigma has managed to fly under the radar of most international media thanks in part to strict rules on taking and sharing photos. But don’t expect to get in easily. The online ticketing system books up quickly; serving only 24 people at a time, seating is almost as limited as details about the extensive menu.
Like its predecessor, Enigma offers cuisine that is wide-ranging and complex. But that’s where the similarity ends. Focusing instead on the ingredients and their essential tastes rather than revolutionary techniques, like the foams and spheres that distinguished El Bulli.
And where El Bulli’s décor was rustic, Enigma’s ambience is futuristic and cool with tables and chairs that look as though they were carved from blocks of ice. The cloud-like ceilings are made from wire mesh that change color and the translucent resin walls look like waterfalls. To create this dream-like ambiance, it’s estimated that Adrià spent a whopping $3.5 million.
Located on the main floor of a bland office building, Enigma has an anonymous-looking entrance that requires a code number for admission, which is provided when the guest pays an advance deposit online. Inside, diners begin a journey through six separate spaces where they are served a tasting menu of more than 40 small dishes. The meal costs about $235, excluding drinks.
At the end of the evening, guests are led through a door into a traditional bar for drinks and further tastes.
Some dishes are complex creations, like the squid tartar brushed with a thin layer of coconut oil and a drop of slightly spicy squid ink. Others are gorgeously simple: a Raf tomato cut in half, with one cream made of the red part and another of the green, poured into the same bowl.
At the end of evening, about three-plus hours later, guests are led through a door into a traditional bar for drinks and further tastes.
Sepúlveda Street, 38-40