There is something about the Spanish restaurant scene that keeps us returning over and over again. Is it the tapas heritage, the Mediterranean flavours, the creativity, the delicious local wines or the terroir-based cuisine? Or all of these together?
Spanish restaurants have conquered a firm spot among the best restaurants in the world and Quique Dacosta Restaurante definitely is one of them. Quique Dacosta Restaurante opened its doors in 1981 under the name of El Poblet and slowly developed into one of the world’s most creative restaurants.
Chef Patron Quique Dacosta arrived at El Poblet in 1988 and took over the restaurant ten years later. Quique was born in Cáceres, but has lived in Dénia since the age of fourteen and considers this area of Valencia as his hometown. Quite remarkable and unlike many top chefs, Quique is completely selftaught. The chef is known for his innovations, his modern cooking style, his ecological research, his creativity and his business talent. Besides Quique Dacosta Restaurante, Quique also manages three restaurants in Valencia (Mercatbar, Vuelve Carolina & El Poblet Restaurante).
Quique Dacosta Restaurante is located in a street facing the beach of Dénia, a small beach town near Valencia. The white building with its church-shaped tower oozes mystery and after entering the doors, a trendy loungy atmosphere welcomes the guests. Modern art is combined with humorous accents and the traditional Spanish atmosphere is well kept on the whole property. Guests start with the aperitif on the sunny terrace or in the veranda, where the first nibbles are served. Once inside the dining room, you will be welcomed by empty tables which are slowly built during the meal. All unnecessary items are removed to optimise the dining experience.
Two tasting menus are available at Quique Dacosta Restaurante, both offering an extensive dining journey to the guests: ‘Local Universe’ is a menu that consists of dishes that have been consolidated over time and represent the restaurant’s baggage in the form of tradition, evolution and modernity. The menu ‘Fronteras’ offers a view on the chef’s current innovations, his culinary vision today, his research and his passion for creativity. Both menus consist of around 30 snacks which are served in five or six ‘acts’. The menus tell a story that is provocative, surprisingly creative and mainly based on the local terroir kitchen. Quique tries to use ingredients from within 75 kilometres of his restaurant and focuses on minimalistic, high flavoured dishes. His preparations are sometimes complicated, technically challenging and incorporating many ingredients, but some dishes consist out of a few or even one unique ingredient. The famous preparation with the Gamba Roja de Dénia is a good example of the latter: the juicy, sweet gamba is served on its own in one of the servings – pure and delicious.
The passion for creativity is reflected in snacks and mignardises such as the ‘Petals of roses’, which are in fact red dyed apple slices; ‘Stones of Parmesan cheese’, which are edible stones with parmesan cheese; and the ‘Carbon of Pericana’, where a crisp in the shape of charcoal is served with a delicious Pericana sauce. Quique Dacosta loves to deconstruct certain products and of course, fish and seafood from the coast nearby play an important role in the menu. An impressive serving and equally impressive tableside preparation is the degustation of some unique fish parts: dry octopus, roe of mullet spooned at the table and served on a crisp, “Torta” of Ling roe, and the red tuna belly rested between sugared kombu and mechoui. The living forest is another spectacle at the table and brings the best seasonal mushrooms, edible soil, asparagus heads and other delicacies from the forest. Beautiful!
The dining rooms at Quique Dacosta are managed by the charming Restaurant Manager Didier Fertilati, who can easily be considered as one of the best restaurants managers in the world. He welcomes guests as his friends and is assisted by Maître d’hôtel Giovanni Mastromarino. The wines are selected by Head Sommelier Jose Antonio Navarrete, who will surprise you with excellent wine choices and his broad knowledge of wines and liquors. The kitchen is managed by Quique Dacosta himself, Ricardo Tobella (Head Chef), Juan Valiente (Head Chef of the creativity department) and several ‘Jefe de Partida’ chefs. The team is now creating new dishes in the creativity studio, a new space at the restaurant where innovation and creativity fuse, using state-of-the-art elements and materials. The impressive team at Quique Dacosta consists out of 35 – 40 staff members who will guide you through one of the most remarkable gastronomical experiences in the world.
It is truly impressive to experience the journey throughout Quique Dacosta’s kitchen and, surprise after surprise, guests become more and more astonished. Extreme creativity is showcased in menus where each preparation is bursting with flavour coming from some of the most remarkable ingredients from the region. This restaurant definitely offers one of the best retakes on the Spanish tapas cuisine and guarantees one of the best culinary experiences in the world.
Written by Sven & Frank