RESTAURANT REVIEW: Disfrutar, Barcelona

By Neil Durham

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHEN?: evening 7 March 2023

WHERE?: C. de Villarroel, 163, 08036 Barcelona, Spain

Last night I had the best meal of my life.

  • Read on for reasons including how this was ‘a thrilling rapid-fire, roller-coaster ride of a dining experience’

I was 53 last week and so I’ve eaten a few meals in my life and I should say that this was never meant to be a foodie blog so what follows may not be described brilliantly but hopefully you get the gist.

I’ve visited Barcelona regularly over the last quarter of a century and 1 thing that has been striking is how, post pandemic, there has been so much fine dining that has laid its table in this amazing city.

In August we wrote how we’d booked a table with a 7-month wait at Disfrutar, which means ‘enjoy’ in Spanish, because after picking up the Highest New Entry Award in 2018 it is now number 3 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

It is described there as ‘a thrilling rapid-fire, roller-coaster ride of a dining experience’ and do bear that in mind should you read on as it’s very apt.

We know Eixample well but the restaurant has a modest frontage we weren’t expecting and so we’re 10 minutes late for our table and arrive a little flustered where we meet Eduard Xatruch as we walk past the open kitchen who with chefs Oriol Castro and Mateu Casañas all started working at the legendary El Bulli within a year of each other, between 1996 and 1998.

After the restaurant closed in 2011, they joined forces to open Compartir in Cadaqués in Catalonia, Spain, followed by Disfrutar in 2014.

We’re a little self-conscious as we arrive in smart shirts, jeans and trainers but the other diners are unpretentious here in the main dining room which is a bright white space.

We’ve been to restaurants with stars in the Michelin Guide in the UK before and Disfrutar has had 2 since 2018.

We choose the Disfrutar Classic menu with paired wines and it’s a wise choice because the alcohol complements the food brilliantly.

Our meal has 33 elements (see menu below) but it’s important to say that the food is so light and there are opportunities to skip courses should it prove too much but this menu combined a lightness of texture with some deceptively meaty flavours and was presented so exquisitely that it was impossible to say no.

My highlights were the twist on the traditionally Spanish. Our waiting staff explained 1 of the themes of the menu was a sense of playfulness and fun combined with a sense of surprise and so when we were served with what appeared to be a green and red pepper, a nod to pimientos di padron, towards the end of the menu we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

They were in fact light chocolates seasoned beautifully with oil and salt (see below).

Disfrutar’s Gilda with marinated mackerel is a twist on a Catalan favourite tapas dish which boasts a delicate ‘olive’ which pops gently but with a taste explosion in the mouth.

The Gazpacho sandwich with scented vinegar garnish also doesn’t appear to be anything special from the way it looks but the intense flavouring was of a depth I’ve not experienced in anything so bite-sized.

Favourite ingredients including truffles and caviar are sprinkled throughout numerous dishes and we’re even presented with a magnifying glass at 1 point to best appreciate the astonishing detail of the solid bubbles of smoked butter served with sea urchin.

The waiting staff were attentive, explained everything in English to get the most from the meal including how best to eat it to maximise the tasting experience.

Don’t book if you’re strapped for time – we finished our 4-hours-plus meal on the outdoor terrace with a coffee and a desire to return as soon as possible to luxuriate in the best dining experience we’ve ever had.

  • Main picture via Facebook courtesy Disfrutar Reservations
  • Have been to this restaurant and what did you think of this review? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow monstagigz on Twitter @NeilDurham, email and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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