October 3, 2018
Plates to balance out
When I dine by myself, I’m more partial to a full dining room than a place that is soulless. I’ve always enjoyed watching how the atmosphere transforms as a meal proceeds. For those of us who often have to dine alone, it is great entertainment. Moreover, my personality changes with the vibe of the restaurant, so, if it is gloomy, I’m engulfed by a terrible sense of melancholy, but if it is joyful, I’ll be as happy as Larry. Eating and drinking at Disfrutar [Enjoyment], with just myself for company (just like Lucullus), proves how successfully the restaurant’s name does it justice: the expressions on people’s faces quickly change to a true countenance of pleasure. This metamorphosis affects each and every table, and merriment and a great mood envelop the place until a collective chorus of exclamations, laughter, toasts, and boisterous surprise is reached.
The goal, in short, has been achieved, because how much do diners care about the repeated testing of dishes, the technological intricacies, the research involved? All the technical aspects have disappeared, vanished for the sake of sensation and immediate fulfilment. Or perhaps some do find the temperature at which their egg has been cooked interesting? In the case of Disfrutar, the memorable and delicate crispy yolk with a hot wild-mushroom jelly is a dish that leaves you at a loss for words and, fortunately, even thought. And that’s how the moment becomes pure flavour. The same goes for journalistic writing: one has to write slowly, weaving and unweaving the text patiently, so that readers glide through it in a carefree way. However, if the syntax disappears, the column becomes a bumpy ride.
The ramp onto which Eduard Xatruch, Oriol Castro and Mateu Casañas cast us has no curves, edges or speed humps; the structure is invisible. A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes, but it is never a reason to be showy. Despite the complexity that may be involved in terms of culinary exploration, there is no need for diners to understand any of that: here it is possible – and recommendable – to succumb and enjoy. Otherwise, we would have to talk about something entirely different and quite silly: technical brilliance, sensationalism without substance, narcissistic rhetoric. But that is risky because if diners become caught up in the virtuosity that unfolds before them, they may forget to taste something or, even if they do, may not find any aroma or flavour. Is there anything sadder than that? It matters – and it doesn’t matter – that you are served a solid gazpacho in the form of a sandwich, that the fish ceviche is in fact a ‘cream’, that the gilda is deconstructed and presented horizontally on a plate... But the most important thing is that these are possibly the best versions of these dishes you’ll ever tried. Tear up the rulebooks. It is simply impossible not to enjoy – and not be seen to enjoy – the caviar stuffed panchino bread, fried prawn brains, the silky black celeriac, the steak jus, the mango in charcoal made from sugar... And so many other brilliant ideas that whirl into Disfrutar’s dining room every day.
Photo: Joan Valera