Economics says you don’t have 8,000 sittings per year when 2,000,000 people per year want to eat in your restaurant, but El Bulli in Cala Montjoi, two hours north of Barcelona, did just that. And if your name came up, literally in a lottery, you paid $720 per couple and had no idea what kind of food you were going to get. And you were going to get it, not ask for it, the menu is what it is. The tasting menu is in three acts and will be dozens of small finger snacks or tapas you eat with a fork and spoon. There are no knives.
They’re not open for lunch and even for dinner, they are only open for five months out of the year, May until September. Reason: the chefs need time to be creative.
Result: $700,000 in losses per year but that isn’t why El Bulli is closing; the product endorsements, too many to count, and cookbooks cover the revenue shortfall, owner Ferran Adria is just basically sick of cooking for people so he is taking a few years off and will reopen – the building anyway – as a sort of academy and give out scholarships to chefs who will get to spend a year there working with the staff on “deconstructing” cooking.
They can’t be wrong. Italian food is my favorite, because the only Spanish restaurant is an hour and a half away, but Spanish food is the best in the world and Adria has to get some credit for putting them on the map.
If you want to see a sample menu from someone who, quite literally, planned their trip around the meal when their name came up in the lottery, take a look at the liquid ham croquette, walnut polvorones, boneless chicken feet and the dozens of others they ate over a 6 hour meal here.