- El Bulli is closing for research until about 2014 and it’s not like you were ever going to be able to get a seat there anyway. This is as close as you will get.
- It’s like watching kitchen theatre. My husband said that this is what he imagines 3D television will feel like in 20 years.
- The sous chef is cute. (but not nearly as cute as my husband!)
- The pork jaw is “out of this world” good
My wonderful husband took me to Dos Palillos (Two Toothpicks) to celebrate my 35th birthday. I asked my virtual friends on Twitter where I should go to celebrate the big three five? And to celebrate being out of the house after 7pm without my toddler! Marguerite came up with two recommendations Dos Palillos and Tim Raue. Since I had recently eaten at Uma (admittedly after Raue had already gone) I felt I was familiar with his style and wanted to try something new. The idea of Asian and Spanish Tapas fusion interested me. And of course, being such a food groupie, I was impressed that I would be eating with Albert Raurich who had been the head chef for Ferran Adria.
We had incredible seats, at the bar, right in front of the kitchen. There are only about 10 of these prime visibility chairs so look into it when you are booking. When we got in at 8, things were still on the quiet side. I found it unnerving to be staring at the chefs while they concentrated on plating up, it felt like eavesdropping on someone while they undressed.
As the restaurant filled up, things in the kitchen started to heat up as well. There was one chef that was doing cold starters and manning the wok. That wok wreaked havoc with his whole evening. Either he didn’t get it hot enough, or he got it so hot that the restaurant would fill with the smell of burning plastic. The more he messed up, the slower he got, the slower he got, the more Raurich had to cook for him. I felt for the boy. It took him 20 minutes to make a stir fried dish of Earth vegetables while Raurich nailed it in 2 minutes flat, all the while keeping tabs on the kitchen and dinning room.
I wasn’t bowled over by the food. My socks didn’t shoot off the ends of my feet in a KAPOW flavour moment. It was extremely well executed and the plating was pretty as a picture but there was no WOW factor. No revelation. No dish that made angels appear, puff their chest out and blow trumpets. -Yes, that can happen with really incredible food.
The dishes are minimal in their presentation and flavour. Take the dish of Sunomono , a Japanese salad marinated with rice-vinaigrette. It featured 5 types of seaweed flown in from Galicia, elegantly arranged on a plate, 4 perk clams nestled among them and dabs of white froth. Beautiful to look at but when have you ever thought – you know what I would love? 5 types of seaweed!
Watching Albert Raurich perform his craft was very enjoyable. I’ve noticed something about really good chefs, they have a way of moving that is at once decisive and graceful. When they spoon something onto a dish, they use their entire body to drive that spoon in. Bending over it like a diver about to spring off a board and then snapping back like a taught string. It’s beautiful, like a dance. I never get sick of watching it. The way you wouldn’t get sick of watching a gifted dancer.
Besides that, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. When our waitress disappeared for a few moments, he noticed us looking around for her and immediately came to our table and waited on us, pouring us water with a huge grin. Even when a journalist from Dine magazine was shooting umpteen photographs of him trying to bail out Wok guy, even then, he was genial.
In a lot of ways, Dos Palillos is like L’Atelier Jöel Robuchon with the lights and sound on (The open kitchen at L’Atelier is dark and subdued, work stations lit by a spotlight and there is not talking). L’Atelier is up there in my top foodie experiences though while I would rate Dos Palillos as just a good night out.
I did my best to be subtle about the photographs I took. I use a small Leica, no flash. As you flick over the photos you will see the name of the dishes. We had the 60 Euro menu which was primarily sea food based. The couple next to us had the cheaper 45 Euro menu and it featured more “cooked” food.