El Bulli pastry master Albert Adrià pairs his mind-bending desserts with a posh champagne bar
The chef from El Bulli brings cakes to London
WHEN, BACK IN JULY, I met Albert Adrià to talk about his new restaurant in London, it was almost too hot for ice cream, let alone cheesecake. The capital, like the rest of the country, was sweltering (remember that?). It must have felt like home for the Spanish chef, who now has six Barcelona restaurants following the 2011 closure of El Bulli, where he and older brother Ferran held three Michelin stars (not to mention several ‘world’s best’ accolades) for their groundbreaking cooking.
His first venue outside Spain has just launched – Cakes & Bubbles, in Hotel Café Royal on Regent Street. Serving sweet dishes only (along with plenty of sparkling wines), it is the culmination of his 23 years’ experience as a pastry chef. In the past, Adrià has jokily bemoaned the 35-course El Bulli menu for leaving diners too full for dessert; now he has their undivided attention, offering signature creations including the cheesecake made famous at Tickets in Barcelona. It masquerades (spoiler alert) as a humble round of gauzewrapped cheese, but is made with white chocolate, as well as real cheese. ‘Your brain tells you it’s savoury,’ says Adrià, ‘but to taste it, it’s sweet.’
Plating up the unexpected is his forte (liquid olives are another classic), and a chocolate ‘cork’ is bound for Instagram stardom, but even the basics receive Adrià’s Midas touch. His team spent six months learning to make chocolate, from scratch, to his high standards. ‘Perfection doesn’t exist,’ he admits, ‘but when I focus on only one thing, I want to make it the best’. cakesandbubbles.co.uk