Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Quique Dacosta (Kee-keh da costa) is a restaurant I've always followed on social media and thought of more as a far-off fantasy that I would maybe, one day try for myself - because who knew when I would be in Spain next (let alone Valencia), right? Turns out, it happened pretty soon. As soon as it became confirmed that I would fly to Valencia whilst in London, I jumped at the opportunity to make a booking at the renowned 3 Michelin starred restaurant. Keep in mind when booking that a 100 euro deposit is needed to secure the seats. SO, imagine my horror when I found out a few days before arriving that Quique Dacosta is not actually in Valencia, but in a quaint little countryside town called Dénia an hour and fifteen minutes away from Valencia city! Read below if you’re useless like me and can’t drive/rent a car so need someone to chauffeur you around like a princess. If not, skip the massive paragraph below this and go straight into my Quique experience.
VALENCIA PRIVATE CAR HIRE SERVICE ADVICE
I booked the dinner on the same night we were arriving from London, so wanted to find a round-trip car service so as not to risk arriving late. I e-mailed a bunch of companies, and was shocked to find that most rates are completely ridiculous, like 389 euros for a round trip including waiting time on the Sunday night (eg. booktaxivalencia.com). Maybe they were ripping me off because I was so obviously a tourist - or car services in Valencia are just that expensive. Can a local please enlighten me? I’ll save you guys a lot of time, money and back-and-forth emails by giving you the BEST taxi company of the lot that I contacted: WWW.TAXILOWCOSTVALENCIA.COM/BOOK-YOUR-TAXI/. The total on Sunday night was 99 euros for round trip + 19 euros per hour of waiting time + 9 euros more to take the highway. On weekdays, it’s only 90 euros + the rest of the aforementioned prices. This was the fairest price that I was able to find, and the service was still spot on. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll get back to you really quickly. I was a little unsure because the booking process felt more informal than I was used to, without a booking number, car plate reference, or anything to refer to on the day, so I provided my Whatsapp # to them just in case. I received a Whatsapp message from the taxi driver precisely fifteen minutes before the agreed pickup time saying he was downstairs. At Quique, he waited for us the whole time (~3 hours) and drove us back – simple and smooth. 100% would recommend this service!
Now back to Quique Dacosta. We had made the reservation for 8:30pm when dinner service officially begins (same as everywhere else in Spain), but we arrived just as the sun was setting beautifully over the horizon at 8:10. Regardless, the staff were extremely accommodating and let us begin our experience immediately, leading us into a stylish lounge that resembles a modern sitting room. The location and decor of this restaurant, by the way, is absolutely breathtaking. This is where we were to experience “The First Act”, the first section of the menu out of six. Guests are given a choice between the TRADITIONAL #UniversoLocal menu (199 euros), which has all of the classic signature dishes that Quique is best known for from over the years, and the MODERN #DNA menu (199 euros), which features all of Quique’s latest creations and innovations. We were torn, but chose the DNA menu in the end. I also opted for the wine pairing (+ 99 euros).
THE FIRST ACT
I enjoyed a refreshing and deeply flavoured Cava as a welcome drink, and settled into the first course: Soup of Smoked Chillis – a nice, foamy spectacle with an appetizing smoky flavor. Next came the “Alli Pebre” of Valencia mussels, which was another foamy dish with fresh & tender Valencia mussels and traditional Valencian ‘alli pebre’ sauce with a base of eel. The final dish from the First Act was Pumpkin from Benaguasil fermented in its own juice, with King Crab. The dish was refreshing, and I enjoyed the strange and slightly carbonated pumpkin shot that accompanied it.
THE SECOND ACT
The second act was a mélange of offerings served altogether on a plate, rather than individually. My brother and I, being Japanese and used to eating tarako and ikura on a near-daily basis when were at our parents’ house, were ecstatic when we saw the fish roe being brought out. The particular roe we had on this night were from mullet & ling fish. The massive ling fish roe sacks were brought out in their entirety, and roe was scooped out and placed on homemade Indian cumin papadum. Never had roe this way, but now I know how to eat my mentaiko from now on! It was like a delicious flavor bomb with the papadum. The mullet roe was in a sliced form, and placed next to the ling roe-papadum. The third component, red tuna belly (toro), was sandwiched between Japanese sugared konbu and mechaoui. Finally, the Valencia special: a slice of dry octopus, which had an intensely smoky flavor and was absolutely beautiful. After this act, we were happy but totally fish-ed out. The Rice Liquor Quinine & Emulsion of Yuzu helped some, cleansing our palate and sating our appetites for the third act. Time for some meat…?
THE THIRD ACT [DNA menu begins]
Not quite! Time for more seafood, apparently. Don’t get me wrong - my brother and I are BIG on seafood, but even we were pretty overwhelmed by all the fishy flavours – which weren’t subdued in the slightest. Like they were VERY bold. So I kind of wondered how people who weren’t very used to seafood took to this experience? Anyway. We began with Almond Nougat with melting amaebi shrimp. Then came the monkfish liver in escabeche with sea fennel, which we enjoyed but thought didn’t have that wow factor. Finally, we had the “The Sturgeon, The Oyster and the Hand of Buda”. This was a trio of briny caviar, oyster panna cotta and a tangy hand of Buddha chantilly. My brother wasn't a fan of the oyster panna cotta + caviar (citing extreme fishiness) but I actually thought the bizarre oyster panna cotta idea worked well with the citrusy cream.
THE FOURTH ACT
The opening dish for the Fourth Act was “The Cloud”, which is a sort of parfait composed of sea urchins and razor clams. Rather than the sea urchin, the razor clams were definitely the stars of the dish. So tender and delicious. Next came Langoustines on the grill, green curry, avocado and corn. It's not the green curry we're all familiar with, but Quique's own rendition. Last, our favourite dish from the entire dinner: Cauliflower Rice, Guirra Sheep Sweetbread and Cep Mushrooms [pictured above]. This was precisely the Quique experience I was waiting to have, as it was out-of-this-world delicious. It's a fresh take on risotto, with al dente grains of cauliflower rice cooked in a rich gravy, and a bit of black truffle shaved over the top. So so good.
THE FIFTH ACT
Slowing down now. We were alarmingly full at this point, and didn’t think we could have any more! The next course was thankfully a lighter one – green pistachios, exploding yolk, artichoke and olive oil. Finally, next was the meat course – but the rest of the night proved too much for our tummies to handle. Although we’d been looking forward to the meat course all night, we couldn’t even finish it! The “Azulon” duck breast was beautifully cooked, and served along with its tongue (fried) and liver (wrapped up to resemble Chinese dimsum, with dip). The ducks are shot, so we were told to be careful about metal bits just in case, but we didn’t have that issue. Wish we could have savoured it more!
THE SIXTH ACT
As with all desserts, we magically suddenly had the stomachs for the sweet ending to our Michelin starred feast. First came the Snow of Peach, which I absolutely loved. The ice was shaved in a way that made it incredibly fluffy and akin to the texture of snow, with lots of frozen pieces of cranberries. Next came the intriguing and utterly sumptuous Stones of Orange Blossom Honey, Almonds and Rosemary. Finally, the servers gave us a little treat from the Traditional Menu - the signature Petals of Roses "Gin Tonic of Apple". Within the rose is a curled up & marinated apple slice, that you pick up with the tongs on the right. I LOVED the crunchy texture and sour-sweet flavour of this dessert -- and it made me want to come back to try the traditional menu.
Quique Dacosta is a gastronomic experience in and of itself. The "DNA menu" is truly a testament to the chef's quirks and passions, and I highly recommend it if you are up for a totally crazy journey through Quique's dynamic personality. Loved the use of seasonal Spanish ingredients, as the most unassuming components boasted huge flavours - olive oil, mussels, locally grown Buddha's hand, and the like. The far-off location actually added to the entire experience, as it's not somewhere you could skip off to on any odd day, and it made the dinner that much more special. If you are a self-professed seafood lover, then you MUST make the trip to Quique!
Total for 2: 416.00 Euros (2 DNA menus + 1 wine-pairing + tax/service)
Address: Urbanización El Poblet, Calle Rascassa, 1, 03700 Dénia, Alicante, Spain
Tel: +34 965 78 41 79
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