For a number of years I had wanted to visit Quique Dacosta’s eponymous restaurant(formerly El Poblet), but sadly, I had to scratch it from a few different itineraries for a few different reasons. So when I started piecing together Rocky’s and my euro-dining-trip this past fall, I made it one of the prime pivot points. And as long as we were making our way to Denia, Spain, I figured we may as well double-up. This post covers dinner from our first night in Denia. Click here for the next day’s lunch at Quique.
We drove into town after a few days in Valencia, played in the sea for bit, then walked along beach to dinner. We were encouraged to ‘start with the MENU “LOCAL UNIVERS” tonight then have the MENU “MEDITERANIAN FLAVOR” for lunch tomorrow’. We started our meal on the restaurant’s patio. It was a little humid, but overall beautiful.
Act 1: Appetizer.
Stick of smoked and fried cheese. These cheese sticks had an impressively delicate casing. The flavor was great, though a little sweet for a first bite.
Marinated Pancetta. Beautifully thin cuts of pancetta draped over steamed buns. Rocky exclaimed ‘Knocks the socks off David Chang’s’.
Broth of oak barrel and Barceló “Imperial” Rum. Oak Rind. The oak rinds were light and crisp with a nice toasty smoke flavor. They were set off by an amazing savory consommé.
Purple Dye Murex (sea snail). A very meaty sea snail served in a shell with a sweet broth to finish.
Currant of the sea at moment. The broth had a strong sea/salt water flavor. The ‘sea currants’ had a great snap and were fun to eat.
Mini endive and blood orange. Wonderful pairing of bitter flavors and acid. Brilliant use of citrus.
Raïm of Pastor. Raïm of Pastor, which is found throughout the Valencian region, lightly pickled. These had a good crunch and nice briny taste.
Star Fish. Sea Urchin. Parsley and garlic Sea weed. Three different sea themed rice crisps, each flavored with their respective inspirations. The stars had a savory powder that made me think of SpongeBob Doritos. The sauce on the urchins was great. The parsley chips tasted like a snack an old roommate of mine used to have shipped from Japan. Sadly, the crisps weren’t terribly crispy, likely due to the humidity they were served in.
That concluded ‘Act 1’, and we moved inside for the remainder of the meal.
Act 2: Table of cured fish.
Delicatessens. (Bonito, ling fish, sea bass, dry octopus) A plate of salt-cured and dried sea fare. The bonito was like a fish jerky. The ling fish, or mullet, roe had a good gummy chew with a bitter finish. The sea bass roe was delightfully salty. The cured and flamed octopus had a nice strong char.
Paper of Cereals. A thin cracker of grains to accompany the cured plate.
Pickled onion. Acidic allium bites were great between the dense salty fish and roe.
Fig. Dehydrated fig crumbles in rice paper packets. They tasted like fig flavored Lucky Charms marshmallows.
Act 3: Tapas.
Mary. Though I don’t like the taste of Bloody Marys, this little dish was impressive. An amazing thin shell holding in remarkable Bloody Mary flavor. Alongside a lovely slice of celery.
Pepperwort. We were instructed to first eat the leaf and the fish together, but to save a piece of the leaf to eat alone. On its own, the leaf had a crazy horseradish/wasabi type spice. Though with the mackerel, the spice was neutralized by the fish’s oil.
Dove nest. Faux eggs set in nests. Based with yolks and flavored with truffle and olive. The smooth texture of the eggs were great against the crispy nests.
Apple tart and Campari. The apple cake had a fun disappearing quality. The small flower gave a pleasant mellowing chew to balance the in-your-face bitterness of the Campari granite.
Pork jowls and Paprika. The crisps underneath had a little sweet that was good with the melt-away fattiness of the pork jowls.
Red pepper. ‘Piquillo peppers’. My first comment after trying this was ‘It tastes like watermelon’. When we were asked what we thought it was, I nailed it. Dehydrated watermelon with mustard seeds.
Cococha of Iberian ham and pilpil sauce. I wish I had been familiar with Cococha(a fleshy part of the jaw of cod) before trying this faux version so I would have had more appreciation for it.
Smoked bread. To accompany the ‘Cococha’.
Act 4: Mains.
The water of dried tomatoes. Fantastic ice flavored with sun dried tomato. Great restrained savory taste.
Cubalibre of Foie Gras, lemon, rocket salad with Rum Barceló Imperial. A gel of Coke, rum, and lemon, emulsified with foie gras. This was a big, rich wow. I think the acid from the Coke kept it from being too over the top.
The haze. A striking compilation of peas, pork, and mushroom served over aromatic moss and pine. The ‘fog’ added the to the idea of a walk in the forest.
Denia Red king prawns. This was our first encounter with Denia’s famous prawns. Since we were going to have the menu preparation of prawns the next day, they were served to us very simply: boiled in seawater, accompanied by sea salt. Meaty, sweet, exquisite.
Red mullet with incrustation of its guts with eucalyptus. A very meaty piece of red mullet dressed with a killer sea urchin sauce. Topped with flat beans tossed in eucalyptus oil.
Rice Sénia, ashes. Black Senia rice with black truffle and braised pigeon liver. Holy smokes. This was intense; probably the hardest hitting dish of the trip.
Bread service with Act 4. Five flavors of breadsticks: traditional, parmesan, pesto, white truffle, and soppressata.
Act 5: Desserts.
Citrus field. Various local citrus treated and presented in various ways. Lovely variations of tastes and textures.
Milk. A solid milk skin served over gelato and pastry.
The Tree. Pompon of dry fruit, chocolate caviar, both served in rice packets. Red fruit crystal.
The Magic Box. Soft chocolate macaron. Chocolate and passionfruit marshmallow. Chocolate Rocher with nice crispies inside.
Quite an amazing first meal we had at the hands of Quique Dacosta and his team. To see what they served us for lunch the next day, click here.
Some wines we were served:
And Rocky wants to make sure anyone that actually finds this page and scrolls this far down knows that she caught a small lizard on our walk back to the hotel.
Date of visit: September 18th, 2012
Quique Dacosta. Ctra. Las Marinas, Km. 3. Dénia, Spain. +34 965 784 179. http://www.quiquedacosta.es/