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El Bulli 2004


Digijam
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I love reading the reports and reactions and one day dream of actually dining there too (I have been there , in the kitchen and seen the man himself at work, but alas I haven't eaten there).

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Thank you, nerdgirl, for your most interesting "review".

Really nice to read something from what seems to be a really innocent, completely open perspective.

Thanks again for sharing.

2317/5000

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Another thanks to everyone for the great, detailed reviews.

We ate at El Bulli last year and determined that we were going to take a year off from the stress of trying to get a reservation; now I regret it. Well, there's always next year, unless I try to grab a cancellation.

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Thank you to everyone who posted their experiences this time around. Prior reviews have made me wonder if I would actually enjoy the experience, but these have really made me wish I lived close enough to take advantage of those rare cancellations!

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Great write-up Nerdgirl. Sounds like you had pretty much the same attitude going in as me, something that seems to be key to enjoying the whole experience.

I guess some people are going to outraged about being served minty pork scratchings at such a swanky place, while others will just enjoy the flavour, have a good laugh about it - and, in my case, make inappropriate Homer Simpson-style 'Mmmm, porky' comments.

I'm glad to see it wasn't just me that choked on that popcorn, either. Bit of a design flaw there, but worth it for that movie-going flavour.

What really surprises me is just how many different things you had on your menu. I'd kind of thought the kitchen would focus on a set menu for a few weeks before changing stuff around. Guess they've got so many dishes already nailed by April 1st that they can chop and change every night, and do the occasional personalised extra for different tables.

Neal - Looking forward to a more detailed report from you. Especially curious about the fact you didn't get a few courses that passed by. I wonder if they were for vegetarians or other selective eaters. On the night we went I noticed a few tables not getting all the courses when I was there, but had assumed it was because they simply didn't want them.

The only one we didn't seem to get (I was watching the other tables like a hawk to make sure I didn't miss out) consisted of a couple of chocolates hidden inside a blown up Marigold glove, and I'd assumed that was because we'd been handed a birthday cake instead.

Mark

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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Some last-minute tailoring does go on at el Bulli; tables are asked whether anyone has allergies or strong preferences (e.g. no pork) and substitutions get made. I wouldn't expect every table to have the same menu on any given evening. My sense (though I haven't verified this and could be wrong) is that they don't treat some tables as VIP and therefore give them complimentary or extra courses.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Digijim -

I did notice that some people received the same white tower birthday cake experience as you. They also were given balloons filled with something. The waiters went around and cut the stems off and asked them to brief in whatever was inside. Who knows what it was...Nitrous Oxide might be a good way to ensure that everyone has a good time...?

We were keeping an eye on most of the courses come out and remarking that we didn't receive some of them, but in the end it looked like we did get everything but the b-day treatment...

Stephanie

Stephanie - The Nerdgirl

http://www.nerdgirl.com

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Bizarre that so many were celebrating their birthday, given that most people only seem to get in through a cancelallation. (It was a total fluke that we ended up going on the exact day - my wife only e-mailed them after they gave the date to request if they could do anything special).

I wonder if 'birthday' is a useful keyword for bagging a reservation. :smile:

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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Forget caring about the food, seemingly nobody who writes about El Bulli and Adria cares about language. This is all shameful gush and outrageous twaddle, spat onto the page by people who have nothing better to do.

And if you folks go to Barcelona and this is all you can do with your time while in the area. you should be soliciting prayers, not pats on the head from fellow egullet posters. Have any of you paid attention to how bastardized your language is when you write about the restaurant, how mixed the metaphors, how silly it all sounds.

Me, I'm heading back to Rutt's Hut, which I've been visiting since I was 5, or maybe to I Fratelli in Bloomfield, NJ, there as much for the almost overly Italianate music of the lounge singers as for the pretty decent food.

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Cathar – Speaking for myself, I figured people might be interested to hear about the food currently being served at a quickly evolving, world-renowned restaurant, and so thought it useful to make a post about my experience there. I didn’t come here for looking for validation of my writing skills. I have a day job for that, thanks.

But what does worry me is that a post like yours might deter other eGullet readers from actively participating. If people were to stop posting here, for fear of being flamed because of any improper use of the English language, then it would be a very sad day indeed. Last time I checked this was a forum, a community where people gather to discuss their love of food in a spontaneous and uninhibited way. I’m sure anyone looking for perfectly crafted travelogues and critiques, ones slavishly honed, spellchecked and subbed until gleaming, will know to look elsewhere.

It seems you have an issue with El Bulli and the fact that people are willing to go to such lengths to eat there, so I have to wonder what you’re doing trawling through this thread in the first place. ‘Nothing better to do’ indeed.

restaurant, private catering, consultancy
feast for the senses / blog

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Digijam,

from his posting history , I'd say that Cathar has "nothing better to do" than play the spoiler in every discussion of El Bulli. From the tone of his postings it seems clear that he has absolutely no desire to ever dine at el Bulli.

Having read a few articles on Adria, too, it just sounds to me as if eating at his restaurant is more of a "chic ordeal," at bandit-like prices, than a true dining experience to be savored, With or without foam. (And if I really wanted foam in my mouth, anyway, I'd go back to shaving with a razor.) Nary a one of his dishes ever sounds remotely tasty. We're not talking pizza, say, or lamb chops

Those of us who are genuinely interested in what Adrià is doing in his restaurant appreciate the time that you and others have taken to share your experiences with us.

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Excuse the language but, if Cathar 's purpose of posting is just to rag on people who like the idea of El Bulli, maybe he(or she) should be directed elsewhere...?

2317/5000

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And if you folks go to Barcelona and this is all you can do with your time while in the area. you should be soliciting prayers, not pats on the head from fellow egullet posters. Have any of you paid attention to how bastardized your language is when you write about the restaurant, how mixed the metaphors, how silly it all sounds.

And this is good grammar? Good punctuation? Please! Even I, from this forlorn corner of southwestern Europe, can do better than that. Don't come giving writing lessons which you don't seem really equipped to give.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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So maybe the way not to offend Cathar's sensitivity is to write in Castellano? Los que han comido en El Bulli digan la verdad, es un sitio que no se debe de perder, or solamente unos de los restos del momento? Perdonen mi Espanol se hablarlo, soy Cubana, pero nunca lo estudie.

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello, I am going to Spain tonight. I have a reservation between the 11th and the 15th. It is confirmed that I will be eating there, the night is the only question. So should I stay in Barcelona or is there a hotel/hostel around roses? Please hurry, since I am leaving in a few hours!

"Only the tougne tells the truth..."-F.A.

revallo@gmail.com

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Barcelona is far enough from El Bulli to try to stay in Roses at least the night you dine there. It'll be a long dinner (quite long by Spanish standards), and probably you don't want to drive a decent amount of miles from El Bulli to the highway. You shouldn't have any problems booking a night there in this time of the year.

Almadraba Park has appeared in other posts as a suitable location for the same purpose as yours. Being a touristic destination, I'm sure you'll be able to find a hotel that suits your specific needs.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Revallo, Barcelona is a far more interesting place than Roses, but it is also not very close to El Bulli. How much notice will they give you? At the very least, I would advise a room in Roses the night you are dining at El Bulli and preferably the night before as well. I've only been to El Bulli by car and don't know how convenient it is to get to Roses from Barcelona by public transportation. I assume you will not have a car at your disposal. There are plenty of hotels in Roses, it is a rather middle class resort town and there are some simpler hotels in town.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Since I do not know what kind of a notice they will be giving me. I am thinking of staying in Roses untill I eat, do you know of any cheaper hostels in roses? I am on a bit of a budget regarding my accomidations ( not for dining obviously).

"Only the tougne tells the truth..."-F.A.

revallo@gmail.com

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Perhaps I'm being too optimistic here, but I wouldn't be much worried about the hotel issue in this time of the year (I would from June until September). My advice here would be to go to Barcelona, where I assume you're flying to, and go tomorrow to a travel agency (Viajes Marsans, Viajes El Corte Inglés, Viajes Halcón are travel agencies that come to my mind which should be able to get you hotels in Roses in several price ranges. Viajes El Corte Inglés could be found in almost any El Corte Inglés shop).

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reading the 2 menus from 2004 El Bulli one is struck with the pedestrian nature of the ingredients. Spain is a country endowed with great wild mushrooms, shellfish, lamb, etc. One would hope to see real espardenyes, gambas, scampis, caviar(bone marrow with caviar was one of the most decadent dish I have tasted and this was an Adria specialty), jamon iberico-bellota, spring lamb, game birds, St. Georges mushrooms, morels... By late 90s Adria was serving expensive ingredients in abundance. My best guess is that he is trying to keep menu prices in line with other 3 stars so he cut down on costs. I would be interested in learning his profit margins and how they evolved over time if anybody knows.

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Adria has often said the restaurant only represents 30% of the incomes of the group (for 630 000 € benefits in 2002.) but also that they want to consolidate it not to depend on the other activities ( eg. the book - #1 income )

anylonger.

Comparing 3 stars prices, I'd say El Bulli is much cheaper than a lot of French ***. I also believe This is more about how the ingredients are used and transformed than about the ingredients ( expensive or not) themselves.

As I am lucky enough to go there in a few weeks, I'll let you know about a #3 version of the 2004 menu

Let Eat Be

Food, Wine & other Delights

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Daemon,

Please let us know but before you depart could you take a look to the shellfish list in Miguel Cardoso initiated "Percebes for 125 Euro" thread? Personally, I go to Europe to eat such things which are unavailable in the States(even the green Maine lobster is not the level of a blue Breton lobster or a langouste from the Mediterranean). I have dined 3 times at El Bulli in the late 90s and he used a good dose of cigalas, percebes, espardenyes, etc. Maybe they are trying to make the restaurant more profitable and, if this is so, personally I think it is a scandal that he can get away with the pedestrian ingredients he is offering. He can apply any process or technique he wants and call it whatever he wants but the fact remains that the very best of the bounty of Spain(which, IMHO, is the best in Europe)is not represented adequately in his repertoire.

Vedat Milor

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