The Enigmatic Enigma Concept
Meal #9: Enigma Concept
Michelin Stars: 0 (yet)
Total Star Count: 6
World’s Best List: none (yet)
My last meal in Barcelona was the new, and mysterious, Enigma Concept by Chef Albert Adria, the same mastermind behind the famed elBulli, Tickets, Pakta and more. Said to be his final endeavor, Enigma Concept has been touted as many things, mostly being referred to as “elBulli 2.0” (but it’s not). Acquiring a reservation was a confusing task at first (which I say is part of the enigmatic experience, haha) and once confirmed, you are emailed a security code to enter in a keypad upon your arrival. There is no one to greet you (or tell you how the door works, once the code is entered) but eventually I figured it out and stepped inside the most hyped restaurant in the world. You’ll walk down a hallway, with a glimmering cloud above your head, in both confusion and awe until you finally are greeted. The whole evening, from door to door, certainly is mind-blowing.
Chef Adria asks guests not to share photos of their meal on social, to keep the experience as much as a surprise for future diners as possible. I believe in respecting a chef’s vision, so I will not be sharing publicly my photos of my dinner. However, if you are dying of curiosity and think it is highly unlikely for you to visit Enigma, you can find photos on social media from people who ignored this request. Go forth and look if you must, but I promise you, “going in blind” to the dinner absolutely made my evening more impactful.
The dining experience consists of “6 enigmas,” and one travels from room to room as your meal progresses. They do not allow dietary restrictions (this was fudged a bit upon arrival) — so sorry vegetarians, you are out of luck. There is also copious amounts of alcohol — both in cocktail form and wine pairing, so be sure to taxi if you do snag a coveted reservation. The wine pairing was one of the best I’ve ever had with a meal — truly transformational.
The meal itself was highly inventive, with ingredients I had never had before in all my travels and dining in addition to local ingredients and produce. It gave a nice balance of exotic and familiar. Diners will also not be told what ingredients will be found in their dishes upon presentation, to keep the element of surprise throughout the entire evening. Staff will then ask you to guess what you just ate, and while you will * never * be right (maybe a few ingredients here and there), you’ll get a good giggle out of trying and then a second round of giggles out of wonder when you realize you just ate XX and it tasted like ZZ. It’s a very fun, magical experience that certainly ensures Enigma debuts high on next year’s Worlds 50 Best List and receives at least two Michelin stars right off the bat.
Service was top notch — our server Laura took excellent care of us throughout the night and laughed with us during our delighted squeals, as if this was a new experience for her as well. She and the rest of the front of house staff clearly love their jobs and seeing their guests get a kick out of everything. (Literally. Everything.) A tour of the kitchen was granted upon request, and the entire chef staff greeted us with big smiles, waves and enjoyed hearing firsthand how much our minds were being blown. They were playful (they looooved my Snapchat Spectacles, a first for them), but not to the point it risked being polished or professional.
The final enigma was a surprise, and it indeed was one hell of a surprise. Again, I want to keep the surprise alive as long as possible, so I will not be sharing how we ended our evening. But again, if you use Google I’m sure you can find out. When it was all said and done, the entire experience, from start to finish, was 6 hours. Four hours for our meal, and two for the final “enigma.” Your final experience may not last this long, we chose to stay as long as we could (closing down the entire restaurant). If the idea of 6 hours frightens you, rest assured, it is not mandatory.
Enigma Concept, if they maintain their current path, is sure to skyrocket to acclaimed fame. If you’re able to snag a reservation and pop over to Barcelona, do it. The experience is certainly one of a lifetime.