Words: Olivia Ebeling
Photography: La Skimal
As a journalist covering the musical and culinary happenings on the White Isle, I frequently have to dig deep into my dictionary of superlatives. But as I navigated my way through the immersive gourmet and entertainment fantasy that is HEART Ibiza, I found myself thinking I’d have to invent a completely new language to do the whirlwind of performances, music and haute cuisine justice with mere, well, words. Alas, I shall give it a try within the humble confines of my English…
A creative passion project dreamed up by gastronomy leaders Ferràn and Albert Adrià together with their long-standing friend, Cirque Du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, and executed in collaboration with the owners of Casino De Ibiza, HEART Ibiza offers a spectacular and sophisticated dining and theatrical experience that is orchestrated as an immersive journey through the state-of-the-art venue, located in the glamorous Marina Botafoch area of Ibiza Town. Now in its fourth season, the concept changes its theme and menu every summer, raising the bar ever further to dazzle its discerning clientele. And with Albert recently awarded with the National Gastronomy Award for Best Chef in Spain 2017, the timing was perfect for us to check out HEART Ibiza’s famous live dinner experience…
Choreographed with perfect timing, each group of diners is led through the different areas of the fantastical set by the friendly and attentive staff. Now, I don’t want to give away all of the incredible acts and gourmet treats that we experienced and spoil the surprise, but I hope this article will whet your appetite to go on this mesmerising culinary and theatrical adventure yourself. Taking our first steps into the HEART universe, we felt immediately as if we had entered a real life fairytale as we were welcomed by a regal beauty that beckoned us to try the first welcome canapé, a ‘Margarita Cloud’ prepared by a mysterious hooded woman. Squeezed out a construction not dissimilar to a small fire extinguisher, a white, marshmallow-like mass was formed into a delicate ball that melted in our mouth instantly.
Surprises awaited at every turn as we made our way through a maze of rooms and corridors, and we sampled a ‘Vermut Fragrance’ in an old-fashioned perfumery, marvelled at floating water drops and tried a ‘Mezcal Ambar’, a sphere filled with the smoky spirit, followed by a juicy raspberry topped with wasabi, a unique flavour sensation that juxtaposed the sweetness against a kick of spice! Eventually, we reached HEART Ibiza’s stunning terrace, a vast outdoor space with views on Ibiza Towns historic core Dalt Vila. A last treat before we entered the next area, we fished a dark cherry encased in sake and St Germain jelly out of a bathtub (a personal favourite) before taking our seat in the breezy lounge area.
While the mixologist team crafted two potent ‘heart depravations’ from the cocktail menu for us, the floral and sweet Guadalupe made with St Germain, Brockmans gin, hibiscus, rosemary and a sparkling finish in the shape of champagne rose, and the delightfully smoky yet refreshing ‘Smoked Lep’, a mezcal, tea and mint concoction, we began to peruse the menu. As well as the welcome canapés, each guest is treated to a generous selection of ‘starter’ bites while choosing their wine and dishes for the main course, which will be served downstairs in the performance space during the show. Our first plate arrived, a passion fruit cocktail served in the shell of the fruit and accompanied by a corn puff filled with avocado cream, an artful symphony of flavours and textures that perfectly complimented each other. Each plate that followed – from peach slices infused with white sangria to delicate red shrimp accompanied by ‘tiger milk’ to be sipped from a sea shell, and potato cubes with wagyu tartar – was like a mini piece of art, the creative presentation, quality ingredients and innovative kitchen techniques coming together in a culinary masterpiece.
The only thing that could distract us from the gourmet goodness in front us were the surprise performances from the quirky and charming characters that popped up unexpectedly, and, at one point, even led us away from the table for a secret show. With the grace of a real life mermaid, a beautiful gymnast dazzled us with her incredible flexibility as she contorted her body within the confines of a giant martini glass filled with water. And just when we thought we had seen it all, a man appeared above our heads while seemingly walking on air – as you do. And please mind that all of these colourful performances were happening before we had even sat down for the actual show!
From here on, the night continued to accelerate in scale, style and pace, each element perfectly timed, choreographed and executed. We were led down into the ‘Lab’, HEART Ibiza’s cavernous and futuristic main room, which turns into the club following the dinner experience. Here, a table laden with the finest ‘de Bellota’ 5 J Iberian ham presented on a golden pig’s leg, olive spheres and a quinoa and Nori seaweed sandwhich awaited us. A live singer was regaling the audience with her powerful vocals, performing an infectious set of ‘80s glam rock classics. With the Lab’s LED screen clad walls showing a fantastical backdrop of changing visuals, the setting was jaw-dropping.
We didn’t have to wait long for the show to begin in earnest, with the colourful and charming characters coming out in a flash mob, interacting with diners and leading us ever further into their magical world. A ferocious drumming performance, stunning aerial acrobatics and nail-biting balancing acts transported us back to childhood memories of visiting the circus for the first time, gifting us a sensation of childlike wonder we don’t encounter all too often in adult life.
Meanwhile, our main courses had arrived, and our spectacular feast continued with the chef’s recommendations; the delicate and aromatic Indian jumbo tiger prawn dressed with a cloud of foam and accompanied by mini carrots and Portobello mushroom slices, as well as juicy, melt-in-the-mouth brisket tacos served with a duo of mole de olla sauces and green tortillas. At this point, our senses were so over-stimulated, we felt giddy with delight.
The breath-taking show continued with jaw-dropping performances, including an incredible tumbling duo and a clever choreography that saw an artist ‘paint’ a canvas made of LED blocks with electronically simulated paint delivered in perfect timing to the music. As we tumbled further down the rabbit hole, the performances got raunchier, with sexy dancers setting the stage alight with their fierce routine, and a stunning vintage vixen treating us to a sizzling burlesque number.
Time seemed to fly, and all too soon this magical night culminated in the grand finale, the ‘Sweet Moment’. No, this is not a fancy way to name the desert course, but an all-singing, all-dancing incarnation of what I imagine Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory amped up on acid to be like! A giant cake-shaped sweet stand arrived at our table, filled with miniature confectionary, while a whole new host of characters descended upon the dining space to offer us further sweet treats. With heavenly princesses handing us candyfloss clouds picked from a miniature hot air balloon, dapper cigar boys revealing the contents of their case to be, in fact, waver-thin chocolate creations, and a Mediterranean beauty offering us eggs filled with creamy pudding from her basket, we finished our incredible evening at HEART Ibiza on a ‘high’ that was not solely sugar-induced.
While all guests have the option to stay on after dinner for the venue’s nightly parties, we concluded that our evening couldn’t get any better, and so we left HEART Ibiza with our expectations of innovative cuisine forever changed. With prices for the dinner experience beginning at 215 Euros per head depending on the area you are seated in (drinks not included), I believe that this very special concept is exceptional value considering the outstanding hospitality, gastronomy and entertainment that will blow your mind in more ways than one…
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