Wednesday 8 June 2016

Quique Dacosta, Dénia, Spain

Didier Fertilati is without doubt the best maître d' we've ever met on our travels. He was serving at the hugely successful Quique Dacosta event at Ibérica and we told him of our plans to visit Dacosta's eponymous Spanish flagship restaurant in Dénia, somewhere that's been on our to eat list for some time. Didier quickly scanned his phone and said that although he wasn't scheduled to be working on the day we'd booked, he would come in especially for us and put together a suitable menu of old and new dishes. We were impressed.
We arrived a little flustered but dead on time after a 100 mile an hour taxi ride from Valencia (our driver was determined we would make up for lost time by riding a centimetre behind anyone who would dare get in 'our' fast lane). Didier greets us all like treasured old friends, this is the utter charm and professionalism of a man who is at the very top of his game. He previously worked with Heston Blumenthal before his media career, when he was cooking in the kitchen and helped The Fat Duck go from one to two and three Michelin stars. Quique Dacosta is still most often found in his kitchen although not today as he is at an event in Washington with José Andrés.
We are served some exquisite snacks in the garden along with a welcome drink, the 1° Act: 
Tea of mantis shrimp and leaves of artichoke from "la vega baja" ~ Carbon of "pericana" ~ Light beignet of codfish ~ Raïm de pastor. Kalanchoe ~ Almond's nougat ~ Piadina of fermented corn ~ Red tuna and dashi vinegar ~ "Moreno" 'Pig Nose' ~ Stones of Parmesan cheese. Absolutely delightful, we especially loved these last two snacks.

2° Acts: Dry Octopus ~  Roe of Mullet ~ "Torta" of Ling fish roe ~ Red tuna belly rested between sugared kombu and mechoui ~ Onion in vinegar ~ cumin's Papadam. 
3° Fish-lemon and half lemon. (I swapped mine for the coca of peas and onions in apple vinegar).

Crushed and dry Tomato. 
Cuttlefish egg. 
Cubalibre of foie gras with lemon granite and rocket salad. A signature dish, this has been on the menu since 2001, it is also my favourite dish of the year. Absolutely Stunning.
The leaving forest. 
4° Acts: Langoustines on the grill, green curry, avocado and corn. 

Sea urchins from "las rotas", cardamom and leaves of cucumber. 
Puntalette n° 73 with smoked sea urchins, spicy and sour.  Flamed Eel from Albufera and ginger emulsion. Another favourite.

Red King Prawns from Denia, just boiled. You won't find better. Tea of chards. This had the very essence of the prawn head flavour (as all connoisseurs know, this is the best bit).
5° Acts: Iberian pork ribs, green and purple Shiso leaves. 

Gleva rice D.O. Valencia between straw and mountain dry leaves. 
6° Acts: Snow of peach.
Coffee in the chocolate. 
Petals of roses, Gin & tonic of apple.

There ended an epic afternoon of some of the finest food we've eaten all year. Naturally we didn't like everything equally as is normal for a long menu like this but in general this is exactly the kind of food we love, highly creative, beautiful and above all such wonderful fun. Instead of leaving thinking 'we've done that one now' I left thinking that was brilliant I want to do it all again.
Joël Robuchon has apparently said that up to 60% of the success or failure of a restaurant depends on service. Didier Fertilati made what one of the greatest meals of the year even more memorable. We all agreed that this was the best service we've had in any restaurant. This combination of exquisite three star food and service makes the Quique Dacosta restaurant a very special experience that is worth every penny. The art of service and the art of cooking have truly come together at the very highest level here in Dénia making the best experience of the year for us.

We paid 190 each for the tasting menu. Two of our party had the wine pairing at 99, we enjoyed a bottle of Albariño at around €40.

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