When Compartir Barcelona welcomed its first diners this summer, expectations were high. And rightly so. The brand-new eatery is the latest venture from Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas: the trio of El Bulli alums that head up the wildly popular two-Michelin-star Disfrutar in the city’s trendy Eixample neighborhood.
You won’t find any avant-garde tasting menus at their new restaurant, though. Instead, the talented chefs have ditched molecular gastronomy (for the time being at least) for something a little more laid-back. Taking its name from the Spanish word compartir meaning ‘to share’, this is casual tapas-style dining at its finest.
It’s not the first time the trio has turned their hand to this type of cooking. Over a decade ago Castro, Xatruch and Casañas teamed up to open their very first restaurant, Compartir Cadaqués, on the coast of northern Catalonia to much acclaim. Now, the talented chefs are bringing their tried and tested dining concept to the city – and, trust us, there is plenty to be excited about.
The new eatery is helmed by not one but three exceptionally talented Spanish chefs. It was in the kitchen of the three-Michelin-star El Bulli – widely regarded as the best restaurant in the world – in Catalonia that Castro, Xatruch and Casañas met.
After climbing the ranks to hold top positions at the esteemed eatery, the trio worked as part of the creative team alongside Albert and Ferran Adrià developing weird and wonderful dishes that pushed the boundaries of modern gastronomy to its limits.
When El Bulli closed its doors in 2011, the close friends and colleagues decided to fulfill a lifelong ambition and strike out on their own. The following year, the trio opened Compartir in the idyllic coastal town of Cadaqués serving inventive Mediterranean sharing plates in a charming 18th-century building.
It wasn’t long before the El Bulli alums opened their second restaurant, this time returning to their fine dining roots to set up Disfrutar in Barcelona. The playful tasting menus captured the attention of foodies across the world and by 2018 the gourmet eatery had scooped two Michelin stars.
For their latest venture, Castro, Xatruch and Casañas have partnered with Nil Dulcet who worked in the kitchen at Compartir Cadaqués before becoming the first head chef at Disfrutar Barcelona.
While the menu at Compartir Barcelona isn’t the same as the Cadaqués outpost, it does follow a similar cooking philosophy. Diners can expect an ever-changing array of generous sharing plates that effortlessly blend traditional Catalan flavors with contemporary touches.
Kick things off with a selection of hot and cold oysters before diving into the tapas-style plates. Standout dishes from the menu include delicate ‘Palo Cortado’ Galician razor clams served with asparagus and codium seaweed, pillowy croquettes of Iberian ham with red tuna and tomato, and mussels from Ebro Delta drizzled with a tarragon Béarnaise sauce. Oh, and be sure to order a basket of rustic bread for the table, too.
If you have space for dessert, it’s well worth finishing the meal with the decadent hazelnut coulant or the light-as-air crème brûlée foam served with strawberries and a wonderfully refreshing orange sorbet.
The new restaurant is located around the corner from Disfrutar a stone’s throw from the Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona’s Eixample district. Able to comfortably host up to 80 guests, the eatery is divided into three cozily lit rooms in shades of warm orange and dark blue.
El Equipo Creativo (the design studio behind Disfrutar) was brought in for the breezy interiors adorning the spaces with big abstract paintings, curved mirrors and light wicker screens. Diners can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen adding to the laid-back vibe.