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The jewel in the crown of Albert Adrià’s restaurant empire, Enigma, is back in Barcelona. There are no tasting menus, hence you can order as few or as many of the dishes made famous at El Bulli restaurant as you like.
Need to know
It was sad news at the start of the pandemic in 2020 that Albert Adrià’s group of restaurants in the Sant Antoni area of Barcelona were closing for good. Sad news except for the fact that Enigma would eventually re-open. And on 7th June 2022 that’s what happened. Albeit with a different concept. Gone is the tasting menu, and in arrives cocktails and snacks that can be ordered a-la-carte. Some of the dishes were made famous by Albert and his older brother, Ferran, at 5 times winner of the best restaurant in the world, El Bulli.
When visiting Enigma Concept, you have the choice between Lunch Time service or Evening Drinks. Both focus on a mix of food and drinks. Stimulating cocktails and creative dishes. For Lunch Time service, apart from your main table, there are two separate bar areas you can visit. It’s part show, part incredible food, as you watch the chefs prepare the dishes in front of you. There’s the Japanese Shinkai Bar, at €36 each, or the €54 Sua Bar with fresh Galician lobster.
Even without visiting one of the show bars, there are plenty of fantastic foods to choose from at Lunch Time. With a focus on molecular gastronomy, the scientific approach to creating flavour and texture made so famous here in Catalonia. Seafood including oysters, squid, prawns and crab. The most delicate mini pizza slices. On top of that, A5 Wagyu beef and inventive sandwiches.
As you’d expect, the Evening Drinks sitting at Enigma Concept has a wonderful selection of cocktails, using ingredients like kiwi, pear juice, coffee, and, of course, premium spirits. For non-drinkers there’s a couple of exciting mocktails with multiple ingredients.
The ‘snacks’ to go along with the drinks are pretty special. We’re not talking about just some nuts or crisps here, but gastronomical wonders from the creativeness of Albert Adrià and his team.
We made our reservation for the Evening Drinks. Below I’ll describe our experience and go through each dish that we tried, stating whether it was a hit or a miss, including our trip up to the separate burger bar room.
The entrance from outside is unassuming, and if you didn’t know it was there you’d be forgiven for walking straight passed. However, upon finding it, and walking through the front door, you’re greeted and led around a maze like corridor of colours, eventually arriving in the main dining area.
We decided to start the evening off with a classic, the liquid olives. This scientific process of olive juice being transformed to appear like an actual olive was invented by older brother Ferran Adrià at El Bulli. We recently had some of these juicy wonders at Teatro Bar & Kitchen (formerly Tickets Tapas Bar), but I have to say that Enigma’s were better, with more flavour.
You probably haven’t seen too many pizzas looking like this before. And the picture above is of two portions. What may be small in size is packed with flavour though. King Crab Pizza is a wafer thin, crispy base, with layers of even more thinly sliced avocado, topped with fresh crab meat, an avocado type cream and whipped cream.
The next dish to arrive at our table was the Benedictine brioche. A mini canapé that reminded me of a bite-size gastronomic type of eggs benedict.
“That white bread is not white bread”
Enigma Concept come up with some exciting dishes, and the Gran Torino Club Sandwich is certainly that. Looks like a pretty standard cured meat and salad sandwich using white bread right? Wrong. That white bread is not white bread, it’s actually meringue.
Another dish on the menu at Enigma Concept that was popular at Albert Adrià’s former restaurant Tickets is the Mozzarella brioche with black truffle. It’s easy to see why this has continued to be included. Hot soft pastry, slightly crispy on top, filled with gooey mozzarella cheese and a perfectly subtle truffle flavour.
“best burger I’ve had in Barcelona”
Now to the main event, the Flashburg Smash Burger. For this you need to leave your table and head up to the hidden bar area. Once there, a couple of chefs show you exactly how a smash burger is created in front of you, then you eat it there. Within each brioche bun are two smashed patties of top quality beef, a homemade sauce that is very slightly spicy, and melted cheddar cheese. Apparently, they tried over 30 different cheeses when creating the Flashburg, and cheddar is the one that worked best.
We return to our table from the burger bar with just enough room left for some dessert. There are three quite interesting ice cream flavour combinations to choose from. Coffee & miso, chocolate & mole, and the one we went for Lychee with Raspberries and Rose Water.
To summarise, Enigma Concept Barcelona is a fun and exciting experience where you can try classy cocktails and exceptional food using molecular gastronomy techniques. Without the constraints of a huge tasting menu, you can pick and choose which dishes you prefer. Plus, you can eat as little or as much as you want depending on your budget.
There’s something quite special about the labyrinth like corridors and hidden separate rooms. And the main dining space’s purple walls and cloud like ceiling, with DJ in the corner mixing up the tunes.
If you’re lucky, you may bump into the man himself, Albert Adrià, who can often be seen around in his famous chef whites. My only recommendation would be to reserve as early as you can, as it’s only going to get booked up with time.