Enigma is a dining experience unlike any other. It’s not just that the food will blow you away; it’s the fact that the whole concept of the restaurant truly is, well, an enigma.
You’ll leave feeling slightly puzzled, questioning what exactly just happened.
You’ll be full of great food and probably somewhat giddy.
And best of all? You’ll have been let in on a foodie secret.
It’s been described as a “culinary amusement park”, but you can’t really understand Enigma until you’ve experienced it.
Chef Albert Adrià
Prior to the Chef’s Table episode on Netflix about Albert Adrià, the chef had managed to stay relatively under the radar. Despite having such a monumental role in the success of El Bulli, Chef Adrià remained fairly inconspicuous.
His older brother, Ferran, is typically the name associated with the world-famous El Bulli. The Michelin 3-star restaurant changed the world of food. It was controversial and imaginative. The innovation that came from their kitchen was unparalleled.
While El Bulli was run by Ferran, Albert was the quiet genius behind the scenes. Introverted and creative, he threw himself into the magic of molecular gastronomy. It was his obsession with combining food and science that made El Bulli what it was.
After El Bulli shut its doors in 2011, Albert Adrià went on to open some of the most popular restaurants in Barcelona. Even so, he hasn’t fully embraced the celebrity side of being a chef. Thanks to Chef’s Table, however, Albert Adrià is now recognizable to households around the world.
To this day, Adrià pushes the boundaries of what is possible with food. Only now, he’s more well-known for the magic he creates in his own establishments rather than being Ferran’s younger brother.
With Tickets, Bodega 1900, Hoja Santa, Pakta, and Enigma, Albert has created his own culinary empire under the elBarri name. With his innovative cuisine, he creates unique experiences that are clearly differentiated from one another with clear-cut styles and themes.
- Tickets: lively, fun, and almost circus-like – Michelin one-star and Number 20 on the World’s 50 Best
- Bodega 1900: old-school tapas and vermouth bar
- Hoja Santa: an homage to Mexican culture
- Pakta: Mediterranean cuisine with a Japanese twist – Michelin one-star
- Enigma: a gastronomic labyrinth and experience – Michelin one-star and Number 82 on the World’s 50 Best
Enigma is Chef Adrià’s passion project. And as I said, it’s an experience unlike any other.
One doesn’t just arrive at Enigma expecting to dine. It’s a process. Reservations are mandatory, often made a few days or weeks in advance depending on the desired day.
Before your set reservation, you’ll receive an email with a secret code. This code is what will let you inside the door.
And don’t think you’ll get there early and have a drink at the bar… Oh no. This code is programed to work at the exact time of your reservation.
Learn from our mistake. We thought our code was faulty when it didn’t work. Only to find out it let us in a few minutes later at the exact time the email told us.
So the first rule of Enigma: Don’t be early, and definitely don’t be late!
Once you’re in the door, you’re greeted by a pajama clad host. Ok, maybe it’s not exactly pajamas, but it’s not exactly not pajamas either.
They’ll take your coats and bring you to a waiting area where you’ll sit and enjoy a welcome drink and amuse bouche.
You’re probably thinking, “Oh well, that sounds normal enough”.
But here’s the thing… it’s NOT normal.
This is Enigma, remember?
The whole room has this grayish tone. It’s shiny, calm, and eerie all at the same time.
There are lights accentuating the clear walls and pearl-like furniture. You’re surrounded by iridescence.
It’s one of the most visually spectacular restaurants in the world.
It feels as if you’re walked into a cloud.
Or maybe it’s all a dream.
Either way, it’s magical.
Now, when Enigma first opened, they asked diners not to take photographs. That seems to have dissipated, but keeping true to that tradition, I won’t go into too much detail about what we ate.
Not knowing is part of the experience after all. So much so, that servers bring your food without telling you what it is.
Our meal turned into a game, really. They’d bring a course, we’d eat, we’d try and figure out what it was, the server would return, and we’d share our guesses.
We often got some ingredients right, but not once did we nail the whole dish.
See… the name Enigma suits it, doesn’t it?
Our game of guess the dish didn’t last the whole time though. The thing that makes Enigma more like a dinner theater rather than a restaurant is that you’re actually escorted to different stations throughout the meal.
Each station will have a different theme that’s both apparent in what dishes you’ll eat, and how they’re prepared.
The meal consists of about 40 dishes in total and there’s a strong focus on seafood and shellfish along with seasonal products.
Throughout the experience you’ll interact with multiple chefs and servers. The staff at Enigma is totally international.
At each station we chatted with chefs from all different countries. This multi-cultural element added to the variety of the experience.
So, I must admit, I don’t know that I actually had a favorite dish throughout the evening.
Because it was more like a game and a show, I almost forgot I was dining at one of the best restaurants in the world.
Despite not being able to remember every course specifically, there were definitely highlights. But again, I go back to the fact that it’s more about the experience.
The vibe, the decor, the staff, the stations, and of course, the food – they all combine to make this alternate universe that you step into for a few hours. It ignites all your senses in a way that really is almost out of this world.
Enigma is just that – it’s an enigma. But it’s a delicious and exciting one. One worth trying to figure out.
Things to Know:
The menu features a variety of seafood and shellfish. They currently don’t offer a reduced menu, one without products from the sea, or one that accommodates vegans and vegetarians. If you have a specific allergy or intolerance, you can contact them ahead of time to see what changes can be made.
Reservations are required and can be made online here. If you’re flexible on timing and it’s off-season, you should be able to get a reservation within the same week. If you need a specific day, plan ahead.
When making a reservation, you will be required to make a 100€ per person deposit.
If you notify the restaurant with enough notice, your deposit will be reimbursed. Day of cancellations will be charged the full amount. For a table of 2, 3 days notice is required for a cancellation. Find the full conditions here.
The experience lasts roughly 3.5 hours. To be safe, plan for 4 hours.
The set menu costs 220€ per person. They also offer an additional beverage pairing for 90€.
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