Restaurants & Bars 7

El Bulli - Logistics & Impressions - LONG

torta basilica | Aug 22, 200503:19 PM

The food has been very well-described & reviewed in other posts, so I thought I'd add more info about the actual logistics of a reservation here and our impressions, which were very favorable.

I reserved via email well after the Oct. 15th opening date - probably late that month. I explained that we would be in Barcelona, had eaten at El Raco can Fabes and would very much like to experience & enjoy El Bulli from all the wonderful recommendations they have received. I didn't have much hope, but several days later, I received a very cordial email from Senor Garcia that they would be able to accommodate us on Aug. 30th at 9pm.

As many of you know, about 2 months later, while firming up our hotel reservations, I had the horrible realization that I had booked the wrong month - we were going to be there on July 30th & in Barcelona proper the beginning of August. I sent a very apologetic email, and said I understood if they could not change the resv, but would be thrilled if they could. Immediate reply was 'we're sorry, but nothing is available.' I hung my head in shame & tried to get over blowing my one big chance. About 2 weeks later, I received another email from Mr. Garcia, informing me that something had opened up & that they would be able to accommodate us. Yippee!!

I looked for a 5 star hotel in the area & the closest I could find was the Hostal de la Gavina in S'Agaro - what looked like about an hour south. The hotel was absolutely wonderful - we had a suite for half the price of a 5 star room in most anywhere else in Europe & the concierge arranged for a private car & driver to take us to El Bulli. Even at the cost of 250E + tax, I knew we needed to do this after hearing about the drive there. It is a very long drive - we encountered several accidents, including one so gory I almost wanted to turn around. We ran into Sat. traffic getting into Roses, which looked like an ok place to spend a night. I would do that in the future, as advised by other chowhounds, but we were very happy to return to our wonderful hotel. The drive up & over the mountain is absoluely overwhelming - & we've driven all over the corniches in France, Italy, etc. I was so happy to have a driver & can't imagine coming down that mountain in the dark after a bottle of wine...

Finally up & over the mountain & we soon arrived at El Bulli - beautifully set - all stone & wood & muted lights - reminded me of Big Sur. A gracious welcome & they asked us if we would like to see the kitchen first - I was still so in shock from the drive & then to walk into a kitchen (not that it looks like one) with Ferrian Adria' there in the flesh overseeing all was quite incredible. All my photos are blurry, I was still shaking! They wanted to show us to our table, but I really needed a drink first & we sat out on the patio & enjoyed their pina coladas with the sizzling cotton candy & pearls of rum. The 'olives' were a fun introduction to what was to come & we opened the jar & ate the rest of them! They said they weren't using the patio that night because it was windy, but we & others took comfortable breaks there during the evening. We had a beautiful table for 2 up against the back wall, in between 2 larger parties, so it was fun to see what they were receiving , as they had started a little earlier than us.

The somelier was very helpful & when I mentioned liking Martin Codax, he understood our tastes & our budget!! We had the Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas 2003 @ 40E, then the Xarei.la Pairal 2003 @ 45E, both excellent whites he suggested. This is really a white-driven menu - other than a pork 'taste,' there is nothing that red wine would really compliment.

Some of our favorite 'plates' were the frozen melon with almonds, I loved the carmel bubble with olive oil inside, the mozzarella balls (although I would have loved a caprese taste surprise when they burst - maybe Ferrian will be listening - ha!), the steamed brioche with truffles was incredible & the closest thing to actual food you could bite into & chew - although only 2 bites..., the carrot desert fun, the Spring waterfall was very exciting & fun to discover different flavors & textures.. and it really kindof tasted like a really good Spring waterfall should! Several of the dishes were new this year & one was the 1st night it had been served - I believe the melon con jamon - unlike any I'd every experienced before... We were excited for each course to arrive - the timing was excellent - no long delays & I had requested a faster pace when reserving.

Dessert was served on the patio as we requested and the frozen beluga was... interesting - only thing that was a bit of a let-down after seeing it being served all night.

After 29 courses, I was dissappointed it was over... and still a little hungry! This was an incredible experience & the 155E pp price tag seems reasonable to me (don't ask my husband the same question - he swears there was maybe 2 oz. of food served in all...) Service was friendly & excellent - really the experience of a lifetime, it's very hard to describe. It was very romantic & fun sharing all these astounding surprises & seeing each other's reactions to them.

2 1/2 hour drive back - more accidents & all of France was heading out for the 1st day of their month's vacation. Would I go back - YES!, but I'd like to wait another year or so to enjoy new dishes Mr. Adria comes up with in the meantime....

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