Is it an Enigma?
We check out Palazzo Versace's weird and wonderful eatery
Enigma restaurant is exactly as the name suggests; inexplicable and puzzling, but in the most fascinating and wonderfully fun sort of way. The word 'enigma' comes from latin origins, meaning to speak in riddles...and you feel those words resonate as you tuck into one bizzarre and beautiful course after another.
This not your run of the mill venue, from the cuisine to the concept of the meal, it has a depth of confusion that will leave you with much to ponder. Enigma attempts to explore your senses and tell a story through gastronomy...and succeeds.
The first chef: Quique Dacosta and The Untold Story
Enigma has a different head chef every four months, each with a new dinner concept. It opened in January of this year with 3-star Michelin chef Quique Dacosta. His concept is called, 'The Vanguard, The Untold Story'. Each season, there are 54 evenings of the same experience, until it’s time for the next one. Your journey starts with the dinner reservation, after which you receive a video, which is your introduction to the experience.
Chef Dacosta said: "Many of us chefs will go through Enigma, each one of us with our own style and story to tell. Each one of us will leave a mark in the same place and on the palette of many Dubai residents and visitors seeking out unique experiences in the city."
Quique Dacosta has created a story called The Vanguard, each dish stems from a moment in his life in his native Spain. Like a retrospective exhibition of his career, but told through food rather than paintings. This is how our story unfolded...
We entered into a small room with low ceilings, there were no more than a dozen tables in the dimly lit room. There was nothing on our square wooden table; no cutlery, no napkins, nothing. A DJ played electronic music in the centre of the room, however he almost blended into the walls.
Different waiters swarmed over our table, bringing a range of starters, all of which were edible despite their appearance. There was smoke coming from the 'charcoal' which was sitting delicately on top of a small personal grill...We were encouraged to pick it up and eat it with our fingers. A plate of stones was next on the menu; one was a rich chocolate and cheese delight, but we had to be sure to choose the right one...and though the seaweed was edible, the rocks it sat upon were not.
Is it actually charcoal?
Can we actually eat this rose?
The main courses...
The forest was presented engulfed in a white mist. The dish itself was a mixture of vegetables, as if you were eating them from the ground itself. There was a seafood dish with hidden squid, and another with prawns that looked like an art canvas. There was a delectable elderflower foie gras dish with fresh brioche, a dish originally created by the chef 15 years ago, but which he has barely changed since.
Finally, a rice and duck dish. The 'ash' (black and white truffle) shaved on top was to represent a memory for Dacosta of the burnt rice fields near his home growing up. Each dish told a similar story and was presented in it's own unique and truly memorable way.
Art on a plate
Squid under a stone
Rice & Duck
This is how the forest was presented...
Making the rice
We were served two dishes; one lemon and egg yolk dessert, a hard shell on the outside and soft creamy lemon flavour on the inside – the balance of acidity and sweetness here was light on the palette, much needed after so many courses. The second dessert was a tiny chocolate delight; we were recommend to take this on the terrace outside with some coffees. It was shaped like an acorn fallen from a tree; made with rich Valrhona chocolate and vanilla, it was an exquisite mouthful to end our 'vanguard' journey.
As a parting gift, we were given an illustration of the evening, each of the symbols in the drawing representing a different element of the journey.
The next chef will start on the 12th of April, and has been announced as Nordic chef Björn Frantzén.
The cost of the evening is a set price. AED 750 weekdays per person, and AED 850 for weekends.
It’s impossible to write about Enigma without talking about it’s location. Situated in the new Palazzo Versace in Dubai Creek, it is an extremely lavish spot. The architecture is reminiscent of a 15th century Roman palace. These photos barely do it justice...