We circled the block twice, walking right by the closed gate leading to the restaurant ”grounds”, before finally finding the entrance to this spectacular restaurant by Chef Ricard Camarena, certainly one of the most well-known and beloved chefs in Valencia.
Chef Camarena runs a group of restaurants in Valencia. We fell in love with his more casual Central Bar at the Central Market (and actually went twice during our short trip).
His flagship eponymous restaurant has two Michelin Stars and also a Michelin Green star. The chef’s commitment to sustainability and not wasting any part of an ingredient is a central core belief, which can be seen and felt throughout the entire meal.
Dining at Ricard Camarena is like an adventure. The journey begins in the front ”wine library” where you sit down to enjoy a few small bites and a ”mocktail”.
After enjoying our first few bites, our server walked us into a modern looking dining room with tables spread far apart. Perhaps this is because we were dining in the middle of the pandemic; perhaps they just give diners space. In any event, we enjoyed our private little space in the corner.
At the Counter
As soon as we put down our things, our server asked us to get back up so that we could visit another chef standing at a counter on the other side of the dining area.
He explained each dish, emphasizing their zero waste philosophy.
”For the zucchini, we first put some salt, sugar, and olive oil and we roast in the oven. When it is cooked, we open it and removed the inside, but we don’t throw it out. We keep it for another application.”
The zucchini outer ”shell” was stuffed with steak tartare and topped with ricotta and raspberry. "Please eat in one bite." (seems to a common theme early on in this meal)
We stayed standing at the counter. We could now see that more and more diners were coming into the dining area from the wine library.
The chef handed us a small pour of a beautiful savory consomme. We also tasted a mochi-like dumpling filled with vegetable “scraps” leftover from other dishes, such as the zucchini insides from the prior dish, onion, eggplant, and more.
Finally, he sliced for us a piece of a 3-4 month dried tuna belly, which looked almost like steak.
After our very educational (and tasty!) experience at the counter, we returned to our seats for the rest of the meal.
Luis Felipe are popular among tequila connoisseurs and are often enjoyed as sipping tequilas due to their complex and rich flavors.
For a final bite: pumpkin ginger pumpkin cookie sandwich, a sweet potato mochi dumpling, coffee cannoli (with a liquid center!), and an almond cake with lemon sauce.
General Thoughts - Ricard Camarena
This was my favorite meal in Valencia. I personally loved how light it was, and how it went against the normal flow and mold of a tasting menu. Who would ever think of serving peas (albeit, in a clear beef consomme) as the final course? I loved how fruits and vegetables took center stage, and how most of the protein came in the form of seafood. I never would have guessed it, but that small amount of steak tartare inside the zucchini that we had at the counter would be the largest piece of ”meat” that we would eat the entire meal.
Perhaps this type of meal is not for everyone, especially those people looking for hearty meat dishes. This is more of a meal that showcases Chef Camerena’s appreciation (and celebration!) of Spain’s rich produce. It showcases his creativity in how he expresses these flavors while honoring sustainability. Finally, I just had a lot of fun at the meal. The staff were super friendly. The exploration of different flavor combinations and different bites was unexpected yet delightful.
Booking can be done online but they do require a credit card. If you don’t show up or if you cancel in less than 12 hours, you’ll be charged a 200€ per person fee.
Give yourself plenty of time to arrive. As mentioned above, we actually walked past the front gate a few times because the entrance is unobtrustive and easy to miss.
Av. de Burjassot, 54, 46009
València, Valencia, Spain