In Search of elBulli

Arthur Bovino

2009 globo de gorgonzola from elBulli as served at Next in Chicago.

El Bulli was a romantic restaurant
Set overlooking the Cala Montjoi bay in Spain’s Costa Brava, the dining experience often began with cocktails and snacks on the patio at sunset. A seemingly endless steram of gracious servers would bring mind bending drinks and small bites of wonder. Time slowed.

El Bulli was a casual restaurant
Once inside the dining room one was surprised that this bastion of modernity and onnovation was set within an old wood-beamed and tile floored hacienda. Many diners dressed for the occasion, but others were dressed in shirt-sleeves and pants. They did not look out of place. Patrons were guests of the El Bulli family, in their home, and comfort was as important as a sense of adventure.

El Bulli changed fine dining permanently
Once or twice a century a great artist emerges who changes our perception of the world. In cuisine, Ferran Adria is one of those artists. Much is written about how he influenced the science of cooking, and while true, such emphasis misses much of the point. Chef Adria took Spain’s culinary traditions to their logical extreme and then pushed further, emerging with flavors, textures, and a dining experience that transcended “eating dinner.”

It is impossible to recreate a full sense of time and place here at Next. El Bulli was about more than merely its food. And so , while we have faithfully recreated these 29 courses, we do so with a nod to chef Adria and his team – a sense of thanks – knowing that there is still much work for all of us to do.


elBulli at Next Slideshow


The Aviary

el Bullí

Cocktails 15

970 piña colada, the disappearing barbarpapa
1463 yuzu/sake/Kyoto
1340 coco-loco
1339 cosmopolitan-mallow
1093 white sangria in suspension

Bowl of Chips – 8
Assortment of Lollipops – 8

Order in sets of three

401 bacon and date – 4
338 toasted corn croquant with quacamole –4
711 huckleberry marshmallow – 3
604 passion fruit diamond – 4

Had tried to avoid seeing anything at all about the Next: elbulli experience, including reading anything all about the menu and what was on it, Ferran’s reaction to the meal if any, or any review criticism. That meant living and working for several months in food media while studiously trying to avoid all coverage of something that during that time, would arguably be one of the biggest things going on in a restaurant around the world.

Alinea's Edible Balloon Even Produces Helium Chipmunk Voice
To the phone!/Gachatz/status/172052485324800000
Happened to see on Twitter!/horwitz/status/173417537084719104