Disfrutar, Barcelona

I first tasted a dish by Disfrutar at the OAD (Opinionated About Dining) Awards earlier this year in San Sebastian. The seafood recipe was inventive, intense in flavour and a marvel to look at. Then, a few months later, the 50 World’s Best Restaurants list was announced, and Disfrutar was one of the highest risers, being awarded a coveted place in the top 10. Needless to say, I fast-tracked it to the top of my to visit list and booked flights to Barcelona immediately.

Disfrutar

The restaurant is run by three chefs, Oriol Castro, Mateu Casañas and Eduard Xatruch, who all held important roles in the El Bulli kitchen. Prior to opening Disfrutar in 2014, the trio opened Compartir in Cadaqués on the Costa Brava, a more casual eatery.

The Dining Room at Disfrutar is simple and elegant, and foliage plays a leading role in the decor. The tables are left bare, giving no clues about the meal ahead.

Disfrutar

There are two multi-course menus to choose from… the ‘Classic’ menu, featuring favourites of the house and the ‘Festival’ menu, recommended to returning guests, with an array of new seasonal dishes. We opted for the Classic menu, an elaborate meal of 30 unique recipes, featuring the flavours of Spain in an entirely new and unexpected interpretation.

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The pace was quick and the courses were small, it was a perfectly composed symphony of culinary twists and turns, and I loved the excitement of it all. Many of the dishes are served or completed table side by the charming waiters, who seemed to be enjoying the performance just as much as the dining audience.

Disfrutar

I was delighted to sample a few of their most recognisable dishes – the miraculous Gazpacho in sandwich form, beautifully spherical bursting olives, and a favourite of ours, the macaroni carbonara – transparent mock pasta made from pork gelatine, served in a divine sauce of parmesan and cubes of bacon.

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Not every course was a bite to eat, some came in drink form… one section of our menu was dedicated to rabbit inspired treats, including a cold consommé with a hint of orange, it was like a meaty rich old-fashioned cocktail.

Disfrutar

Nothing is as it initially seems at Disfrutar and some of the most magical dishes deceive you on first glance. Towards the end of the menu we moved onto sweet dishes… two tiny padron peppers are made from thick and indulgent chocolate mousse, seasoned with a peppery hint.

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Sweets continued with cheesecake cornets – bite-sized cherry cones filled with sour cherry sorbet, Kirsch jelly and cream, a wonderful palate cleansing mouthful of deliciousness.

Disfrutar

It was great fun to receive our courses but also to watch the excitement unfold around the room, as other tables ooh-ed and ahh-ed at their imaginative dishes. One table nearby to us were receiving completely different dishes, when I asked the waiter about their meal he commented that they’d visited 3 times already so the kitchen were preparing a totally unique set of new experimental dishes for them… an indicator of the care and effort they go to for every diner, whether it’s your first or tenth time at the restaurant.

Disfrutar translates as ‘to enjoy’, and I can whole-heartedly say I enjoyed every aspect of this exemplary restaurant. An unmissable experience from start to finish, and a must for gastronomes visiting Barcelona.

More information and book a table at Disfrutar here.

Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel, Barcelona

For a short city break, a hotel’s location is always the most important factor for me, and the Yurbban Hotels easily tick that box. Yurbban Trafalgar (3 star) and Yurbban Passage (4 star) are found next door to each other in the central Catalonia region of Barcelona, a lively part of town with lots of nearby restaurants and bars.

yurbban trafalgar hotel

We were staying at the slick Yurbban Trafalgar, the more casual of the two hotels, housed in a former textile factory. There are 56 rooms (and one suite) of varying sizes, the terrace rooms are the most desirable with outdoor space to enjoy the Spanish sunshine.

yurbban trafalgar hotel

Our Yurbban Double room had everything we needed for a short stay. The room was decorated in a pretty grey with accents of mustard yellow. Filament lightbulbs hang from the ceiling and the wooden furniture is all handcrafted. We found the double bed very comfortable and loved the large window overlooking the city, which also ensured we had plenty of fresh air and daylight whenever we wanted it.

The small adjacent shower room had a powerful shower and toilet, while the sink and mirror was located in the bedroom.

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Breakfast is served each morning in the hotel’s ground floor restaurant. A simple buffet of fruit, pastries and charcuterie is available, along with a menu of hot a la carte options. There is no room service at the hotel but the staff are happy for you to take your breakfast up to enjoy in your bedroom, if you wish.

Undoubtably the hotel’s main attraction is the rooftop terrace and bar. Found on the top (eighth) floor of the building, with panoramic views and a small pool, it is a blissful place to hang out when the weather is good.

yurbban trafalgar hotel

When you wish to go and explore the city you can borrow one of the hotel’s stylish Finna bicycles, an easy way to see the surrounding sites. Yurbban Trafalgar has everything you need for a simple city break, but should you want something a bit more luxe I suggest heading to the stylish Yurbban Passage Hotel nextdoor.

Book a stay at Yurbban Trafalgar Hotel here.

Etrusco Restaurant, Corfu

Corfu is not known for its fine dining options, most of the time you’ll be eating sharing meze platters and feasting on simple seafood on this charming Greek island. Etrusco breaks the mould, offering an extraordinary gastronomic experience which has garnered awards and accolades including Greece’s top gourmet gong at the 2018 “Toques d’Or” (Golden Caps) awards.

Etrusco Restaurant

The celebrated Mediterranean eatery is run by the Italian-Corfiot Botrini family, with owner and executive chef Ettore Botrini running the show with flair and creativity. The exclusive restaurant is tucked away on the Eastern coastline of the island, a leafy and romantic al fresco dining room, a destination restaurant despite its lack of sea views.

Etrusco Restaurant

Throughout the meal at Estrusco the sommelier paired our food with immaculately chosen glasses of wine. It was particularly lovely to taste some wonderful Greek wines, some of which are made on the island of Corfu. Each course was carefully thought through, with some dishes paired with beer or sweeter wine.

Etrusco Restaurant

Estrusco guests can choose between the a la carte menu or a tasting menu of restaurant favourites. We were treated to a long and exciting tasting menu… the evening was an elaborate performance of bold plate presentations and culinary inventions from start to finish.

Etrusco Restaurant

Chef Ettore Botrini illustrates his flawless technique and wild imagination in his unusual flavour pairings. “Terra Misu” was a beautiful dish with different textures of mushrooms, mimicking the famous Italian dessert.

The seafood creations were brilliantly unique, “Swordfish Carpaccio with Corfiot neratzosalata (orange salad) and turmeric” was a well executed and beautifully balanced dish, showcasing the finest fresh fish. “King Prawns with strawberry vinegar” was also an intriguing but satisfyingly fresh dish, perfect in the sweltering Corfu heat.

Etrusco Restaurant

For me, it was some of the more classic dishes that really wow-ed. Homemade tagliatelle with a deep earthy mushroom sauce topped with decadent shavings of black truffle was exemplary. A creamy rich delight that I would have happily made the journey for alone.

Etrusco Restaurant

For dessert we sampled a trio of delights. Most dramatic perhaps was the “Impermanence – wild strawberries with vanilla, port and meringue”, a seriously sweet pudding with hints of welcome acidity, topped with a scattering of bright pink meringue matchsticks. We also tried the beautiful “Mont Blanc fava beans Santorini” an ode to the iconic dessert made with Corfiot kumquats and fig.

For a special meal on Corfu island, Estrusco is truly the only place to go. A brilliant experience that any food obsessive will love.

More information and book a table at Estrusco here.