El Poblet is the original name of Quique Dacosta's (now 3-Michelin star) eponymous restaurant in Dénia. Chef Luís Valls, who worked side by side with Quique Dacosta for years, is now the executive chef at this "new" El Poblet, located in Valencia, which boasts two Michelin stars.
We dined here as a party of four, including three people who were in town doing lots of business dinners. In fact, one person had just come to the same restaurant the night before. The restaurant was very accommodating and flexible, designing for him a separate tasting menu so he wouldn't have to eat the same food twice.
We began by trying an "antica formula", the original Vermouth recipe developed by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in 1786 that has been kept secret for hundreds of years. Only three people in the world know this heavily guarded secret. Vermouth lovers praise its complex flavors. On the rocks, I personally found it way too sweet. It's almost like a syrup. Perhaps it would be quite good in certain cocktails.
Bread + Amuse Bouche
Our first bite was a liquid-filled mushroom beignet, which we "chased" with an intensely flavorful mushroom lapchong tea. Such a surprising but stunning pairing!
Delicious bread with fragrant extra virgin olive oil.
Next was "Albufera Crabs", a delicate "sandwich" made with paper thin crackers and a crab flavored creamy sauce in the center. We also sipped on a mind-blowing savory crab + uni "cappuccino" that was ingenious and insanely delicious.
Termanthia 2012: Fantastic Spanish wine from the Toro region. Wine Spectator 95 points.
Our next course was white asparagus with miso noisette butter.
The asparagus was salted for 24 hours with sea lettuce (shown above).
"Les Perles" (oysters) came served with pickled pumpkin, kumquat, and grapefruit. The dish was surprisingly tart.
Kumquats graced the table as we ate our course which included kumquats.
These beautiful, ultra thin layers of potato are certainly a work of art.
Seafood: Fish + Eel + Cuttlefish
A perfectly seared piece of fish with the ultimate crispy skin.
This next course, called Reed and Mud, involved cooking eel inside clay!
The server brought over the clay covered eel, and tapped on it with a spoon, breaking open the clay shell table-side.
Cuttlefish and Charred Bomba Rice (similar to arborio rice) was next, topped with some shaved koji (see below).
Koji is rice that has been inoculated with some sort of fermentation culture. The resultant rice has quite a bit of umami and flavor. Here, they took a whole block of koji and grated its powder on top of our dish.
Meat Course: Duck
Served with "crackers".
Our first "dessert" was actually more savory: a pepper and sheep’s milk ice cream that was surprisingly spicy!
Our second dessert, "Carob, Coffee, Whiskey."
A super cute dessert: Pinetrees and Pine Cones (made out of chocolate, not actual pine cones!).
What a treat as a way to end. 1969 Old Pulteney single Highland scotch whiskey.
There are three types of tasting menus. We went with the Territori Tasting Menu.
Territori Tasting Menu
135 EURO (10% VAT included)
wine pairing: 75 EURO
Ciutat Vella Tasting Menu
160 EURO (10% VAT included)
The Territori plus an additional cured meats course, extra meat course, and extra dessert course
wine pairing: 95 EURO
98 EURO (10% VAT included)
Snacks, 2 courses, dessert, petit fours
(only available Tues &Thurs Lunch + dinner; Friday lunch)
General Thoughts: El Poblet Valencia
The meal at El Poblet was excellent, and frankly, an amazing value for the price (generally true of Spain!). The service was friendly and professional. I really enjoyed the many creative expressions, and there were certainly many "wow" dishes, such as the crab + uni cappuccino and the mushroom lapchong tea + beignet combo. All in all, a wonderful meal in a quiet, relaxing space.