Minimalist, high impact plates in Alicante
Valencian food gets the techno-emotional treatment at Quique Dacosta’s eponymous restaurant on the Costa Blanca. While Alicante might be more usually associated with package holidays than cutting-edge gastronomy, the tiny city of Dénia is far removed from the all-day breakfasts and mainstream lager of the area’s numerous tourist resorts. Formerly El Poblet, the super-sleek restaurant makes a fine and suitable backdrop for the team’s striking plates and also houses some first-rate contemporary art.
Part-chef, part-botanist, Dacosta occupies the same culinary perch as Ferran Adrià and the Roca brothers and is a big name in Spain. His plates are minimalist and always memorable, featuring two or three ingredients, making for great clarity of flavour. A meal here may begin with a single rose supplied with a pair of Quique Dacosta-branded tweezers. On closer inspection, the middle of the flower has been painstakingly constructed from pickled apple. Another dish shows the chef’s willingness to reference other cuisines – his black truffle mochi is an extraordinary little cake stuffed with a creamy cheese filling and dusted with black truffles.
Although there are other references, his tasting menu is billed as an edible landscape of the Costa Blanca, seeking to evoke the aroma and texture of the environment as well as the taste. As such, his restaurant is a hub for food research as well as unashamedly top-end dining. Dacosta is an expert on the local vegetation in addition to the cuisine, and is an authority on the use of rice in Spanish cooking as well as being an expert on aloe vera, micro-greens and sprouts.