Over a decade ago, three chefs who worked together at El Bulli in Spain joined forces to open a restaurant – Compartir – in Cadaqués, Catalonia, a small village 2 hours drive from Barcellona. They aimed to offer modern Mediterranean cuisine rooted in the tradition of sharing. Their dream was to replicate this concept in Barcelona, but for various reasons, they ended up opening the avant-garde Disfrutar instead. Last June, after years of anticipation, they finally fulfilled their promise and brought Compartir to the streets of Barcelona, offering a more accessible price range while maintaining the level of fine dining, allowing more people to experience the spirit of sharing in Spanish culinary culture.
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Head chefs Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch, and Mateu Casañas worked at El Bulli for fifteen years. After El Bulli closed down in 2011, they continued their food experiments alongside Ferran Adrià. In 2012, they opened Compartir Cadaqués using the concept of sharing to convey the cooking techniques they had acquired over the years. Barcelona had always been the city they wanted to venture into and to realize their new project so the three head chefs partnered with Nil Dulcet who is now the executive chef and director of the new restaurant in Barcelona. Nil started as a member of the kitchen team at Compartir Cadaqués and later became the first head chef of Disfrutar. For the four of them, it was only natural that Compartir took its next step in Barcelona, and their commitment to the city is evident. The location is close to Disfrutar and serves as their main base of operations.
(Left)Mateu Casañas (Middle)Oriol Castro (Right)Eduard Xatruch
Even though they initially opened the high-end restaurant Disfrutar in 2014, they never forgot their promise to bring Compartir to Barcelona. In June 2022, Compartir Barcelona finally opened its doors in a street-front shop in the Eixample district, near the bustling Gran Via Avenue. The facade of the restaurant may not be eye-catching and one could easily miss it, but stepping inside reveals a hidden gem. Designed by the interior design team at Disfrutar, the walls are adorned with blue and white artworks that exude a Mediterranean charm. The semi-arched mirrors and screens symbolize boats and arches, creating a spacious and bright atmosphere with a distinct modern style, while still maintaining the elegant ambiance you would expect in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
For decades the three chefs have been wholeheartedly devoted to seeking innovative culinary techniques. Unlike molecular gastronomy, they haven’t altered the structure of ingredients but instead focused on honing their fundamental cooking skills. Over the past ten years, they have developed numerous cooking techniques that are reflected not only in over 700 dishes but also in books they have published to share with the world. Some of these cooking methods, such as the deep-frying technique used for the Pan Chino (Chinese Bao), have been adopted by many world-class restaurants.
It is said that Compartir Barcelona is an alternative for those who couldn’t secure a reservation at Disfrutar. However, the concepts of these two restaurants are completely different. If Disfrutar is the pioneer of modern Spanish cuisine, bold, avant-garde and experimental, then Compartir, which means “to share” in Catalan, allows the chefs to set aside their focus on innovation and use modern techniques to trace back to traditional Spanish cuisine. Each dish is served à la carte, encouraging people to share and leisurely savor the culinary artistry of the three chefs. What remains unchanged is Compartir’s equally high standards for excellence.
Even though they emerged from El Bulli, they don’t consider themselves scientists. As chefs, deliciousness is still their highest principle. Seafood, vegetables, and meats in Compartir Barcelona’s dishes are all delicious and well-balanced, with a strong emphasis on seasonality. The opening dish, beet salad with Ajo blanco sorbet, showcases the best ingredients of the season. One dish that left a lasting impression on me was their signature Tuna Cannelloni with mediterranean flavors, elegantly presented with a beautiful color palette. The dish incorporated the best seasonal fruits, creating a vibrant and visually stunning plate.
Beet salad with Ajo blanco sorbet instagram@compartirbcn
Tapas in Spain are not only small bites, but also symbolize the locals’ joy in sharing and exchanging. Spain is filled with countless taverns where this has become a way of life for the locals. Compartir Barcelona perfectly embodies the essence of Spanish tapas culture, allowing people to enjoy modern Mediterranean cuisine at a Fine Dining level in a more approachable manner, whether it’s the relaxed atmosphere or the prices of a small tavern. Since its opening, Compartir Barcelona has been frequented by both locals and tourists, becoming a popular restaurant in Barcelona, and it won’t be long before it earns its Michelin star.
The Author and Chef Nil Dulcet