Today I would like to tell you about a recently opened place in Barcelona, where food meets entertainment. A very nice restaurant concept where you enjoy your meal in an arty space while being guided through the courses.
Your adventure takes place in the underground of the The Grand Theatre Liceu. You walk down the stairs and enter a ‘strange’ space which mind remind you a bit of Alice in Wonderland. This fantasy land is divided in 4 different spaces: Vermuteria, Odissea, Diva and Mercat.
The program we booked was a combined offer of Odissea & Diva. First we were invited to have an aperitivo at the Vermuteria (the Vermouth space). This was a kind of ‘hallway’ into our culinary journey of that slightly weird evening. We specifically didn’t read much about the program beforehand because we like surprises. We were not disappointed. After a Vermouth (a very popular aperitif in Spain, especially in Catalunya) and some local appetizers we were accompanied to a specific sépare: A round room with 360 degree screens and with the table already set for us. We were lucky as on that particular day we were the only guests attending the Odyssey…
But what is La Odissea?
It’s a show! A projection of an animated movie taking you on a culinary journey. From the 360 screens and colourful displays on your table and on your plate you discover the history of Catalunya’s most important products and ingredients. Jordi Roca, one of the famous Roca brothers and the famous pastry chef at the restaurant El Celler de Can Roca – or rather his digital avatar – plays the main role in this legend about Catalonia. During the storytelling he will be guiding you through the products in front of you. The local specialities are embedded in the story and you are being animated to eat and drink them in a specific order: The table being illuminated on the spot with the particular olive, fish, cheese etc. The products are simple but the idea and the effects are amazing. Excellent wine pairing too (of course it has to be since it was chosen by the Roca brothers themselves) !
Not only the visual effects were impressive but also the musical performance by the orchestra and choir of Barcelona’s Opera house Gran Teatre Liceu. A very nice idea if you ask me. All local! Thumbs up for Catalonia again, knowing how to present, market and distinguish themselves as a region and a tourist destination.
But ‘a picture says 1000 words’, so I let you see it for yourself. Have a look below to get an idea of the show:
What is Diva?
As we also booked the ‘Diva’, after the Odyssey-show we were asked to take a seat at one of the colourful thematic round tables in the Diva-area. We joined a small group of 3 couples and (slightly tipsy) we re-started to eat and drink from the beginning… Yet another culinary journey with visual projections on the table and a very personal guidance through the dishes of our waiter in charge (here called a ‘croupier’), who served us standing in the middle of the round table. An aperitivo (Vermuth of course), followed by a tapas menu. Again here: All local, all seasonal! The visual displays are chosen thematically with the dish in front of you. Another nice idea, plus the fact that you are part of a small circle gives you the opportunity to interact with other guests at the table. This gives a personal touch to the already multi-sensory experience.
In the diva space you will also find different bars for your pre or post dinner drinks. There is the Wine Bar made of wine bottles and barrels with projections from the wine regions of Catalonia. There is the Beer Bar built out of a fishing boat and a background projection simulates a beach feeling. If you want to do good you can have a drink or a ‘star tapa’ (the tapas here are designed by star chefs of the region) at the Solidarity Bar. The money gathered here goes towards various social projects and charities.
That’s the Diva-Table:
…And there is also the Mercat
After our meal(s), full and happy, we took the time to visit the rest of the Opera Samfaina space. Because there is more… We took a stroll around the ‘Mercat’ – the Marketplace. This area is divided in different thematic restaurant-sections serving different products. ‘Under the sea’ serves fish and seafood, ‘Cata-lactic’ serves cheeses, the gardens of ‘Hesperides’ serve dishes made from seasonal vegetables. I guess you can imagine what kind of food is being served at ‘The Slaughter’ and in ‘Sweet Catalonia’…?!
At the end of that amazing experience you can stroll through the shop and buy typical catalan products or gifts.
A really cool concept!
One advice though: Instead of booking a combo of the programs, I recommend to book the Odyssey separate, without other activities. As the Odyssey is rather a tasting they are selling it in combination with the dinner at Diva or Mercat. A nice idea per se but at the end it was too much food (and to many drinks). Also the fact that after finishing with the dessert wine at Odyssey you will have to re-start with the aperitivo and more appetizers at the Diva-dinner might be worth considering to come on two different days and rather ‘pace your senses’…
For bookings and more details, have a look at the Opera Samfaina webpage.
PS: ‘Samfaina’ is actually a famous Catalan dish/ sauce. Kind of a Ratatouille. A mix of eggplants, tomatoes, pepper and onions used as a sauce, a condiment or a side dish.