Kelp Forrest with Mayonnaise
Hot Sourdough, Olive Oil
Stages of the Almond
Torrone Paper with Cumin and Clams
Mackerel with Orange, Frozen and Dried Peas with Curry Ice Cream, Green Pea and Lemon Fish Ceviche, Pure Peeled Tomatoes
Mozzarella and Caviar, Kombu Cured Watermelon with Sesame, Uni Fritter
Green Tomato Soup emulsified with fresh Herbs and Pato Prawn
Valencia Oyster with Emulsion of Soup, Roe, Iceberg Lettuce, Avocado, Eucalyptus
Cubalibre of Foie Gras with Rum, Coke, Lemon Ice, Brioche
Red King Prawn from Denia with Swiss Shard and Bisque Tea
White Asparagus Ajoblanco with Grilled Tuna Belly
All I Pebre wih Swordfish
Rice Ashes with Pigeon, Duck, Truffles and Trumpets
Caramelized Guirra Ewe Sweetbreads with Truffle, Roasted Onion, Carrots, Chufa Milk steeped with Truffle
Vineyard Peach Snow
Petit Fours of Jasmine Marshmallow, Cherry Pate de Fruit, Golden Praline, Matcha White Chocolate, Cookie, Financier, Macaron
Still smiling after dinner at Quique Dacosta Restaurante in Denia, the former “El Poblet” at which a teenage Quique began his culinary career now a Michelin 3* Restaurant that defines “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey,” it was just thirteen hours later that a seat was taken at the new El Poblet in Valencia, itself a Michelin Star recipient as a retrospective look at some of the Chef’s classic dishes.
Opened in 2012, his eponymous restaurant at that time holding two stars and a Top-40 rating on the “World’s 50 Best” list, El Poblet was originally intended to offer guests a refined but laid back experience focused on Chef Dacosta’s cuisine without fully committing to a full-tasting, but with more Restaurants opened since to focus on casual plates as well as Tapas the idea has since evolved, the current “Menu Ciutat Vella” a sixteen course experience offered at a cost of €120.
In many ways a brilliant idea, the ability to carry on the legacy of formative plates while continuing to evolve each season at the flagship, guests entering El Poblet in 2017 will quickly be greeted by letters from the original restaurant before ascending stairs to a foyer of pictures and relics familiar from Denia, a projected film playing silent on one wall with a well-appointed private dining room set to the side of the staircase.
Featuring high ceilings, white linens and elegant plating, not exactly the sort of thing that says casual though the camouflaged floral pillar and jovial service certainly help to lighten the mood, it is almost immediately after seating that guests are presented with Food and Beverage menus plus a briny rice-cracker amuse with Mayonnaise described as a Kelp Forest.
Playing soft music overhead, diners trickling in over the course of the first hour to fill the space about 3/4 at lunch on a Monday, it was after confirming a lack of allergies or intolerances that the menu officially got underway, the €2.50 Bread Service well worth its cost as a hot loaf of Sourdough was served along with good Olive Oil before delving into “Stages of the Almond” featuring raw and toasted Nuts plus an Ice Cream Bon-Bon made from a distillation of the un-ripened green version.
Continuing to show a propensity for playing with textures, a theme frequently seen throughout dinner in Denia the night prior, course two featured crispy Almond ‘paper’ flavored like Turrón atop tender Clams perfumed by Cumin, the four-part follow-up not dissimilar to the second act at Quique Dacosta Restaurante as it offered flavors of Earth and Sea highlighted by Pea and Curry Ice Cream plus the Pod used as a sort of Taco-shell around Lemon Fish Ceviche.
Rounding out Canapés with another trio, the focus prominently on brine with Caviar atop creamy Mozzarella followed by dehydrated Watermelon doing a fairly credible riff on Tuna Belly and a black Tempura Fritter of liquefied Sea Urchin, course ‘one’ of the menu came almost thirty minutes after taking a seat, the Green Tomato Gazpacho expectedly sour but balanced by a creamy crowd, Meringue clusters and Prawns that were served raw and shockingly sweet.
Intentionally going back and forth between sea and land, three plump Oysters intense with Iodine beneath a creamy blanket of Liqueur, Roe and Lettuce served next, course three and four were two of Quique’s most famous plates, the Prawns from Denia seen one day prior in an even more elaborate presentation while the Rum & Coke Foie Gras ranks amongst the top five cold preparations of the dish experienced to date.
Featuring only line-caught Fish, four thin cuts of lean Tuna Belly lightly seared along the rim of warm White Asparagus Soup with light heat, it was here that the kitchen sent out an alternative form of All I Pebre, the flavors of Onions, Peppers and Garlic here lending themselves to a Swordfish Filet beneath a crispy black net.
Stating that “about 15%” of El Poblet’s dishes were created at the restaurant, the entirety of that group served close to the meal’s start, it was with two rich plates from Quique Dacosta Restaurante’s history that savories concluded, the Sweetbreads a very different presentation from the night before that paired the caramelized Thymus with Carrots and Onions while “Rice Ashes” was as much a visual experience as it was a taste to behold as earthy flavors mingled with aged Fowl on the palate.
Refreshing the mouth with Truffle-steeped Horchata, a pleasant blend of sweet and savory that also served to bridge diners from entrees to dessert, it was much like Dacosta’s “From the Muscat” that sweets started off with a study of Fruit in textures, the Vineyard Peach Snow appearing quite similar to insulation and intensely flavored like over-ripe Fruit while the “Fig Tree” follow-up dialed up the textures even further with sugary shards embedded in creamy Mousse.
Taking a Double Espresso with Mignardises, the price included in the menu and very necessary prior to a 3.5 hour drive up the coast to Barcelona, it was with Thanks from the Chef de Cuisine that seven tiny treats were enjoyed, the Chocolates particularly memorable as was the rounded Cake described as a Financier that rested in Apricot Preserves.