LED lighting effects, fans, bubble machines, pulleys, motors, shakers, fog and smoke machines… None of the above makes it exactly clear what to expect at this restaurant. But that’s just the way it is. Sublimotion, the most expensive, creative, technological and innovative restaurant in the world is right here in Ibiza.
No sooner have you checked out the photos and videos of previous dining experiences than you realise that this is not your average restaurant. «Some people think that it’s just a restaurant with audiovisual projectors», says Eduardo Gonzales, the creative director and co-founder, along with Paco Roncero, the chef. «However, projections are more for decorating the backdrop of a theatrical performance, which it’s not,» continues Gonzales. «We have a specialist team that you would associate more with the staging of a musical or a show than a restaurant, but the difference is at Sublimotion it is about enjoying each of the courses in up to twelve different staged ‘locations’,» he says. «We have been staging shows for over twenty years and we realised that the table is the best communications platform that there is. The best possible stage. That’s why we use it to take the ‘spectators’ on a journey, without ever forgetting that this is a restaurant,» he points out.
«We pay a great deal of respect to gastronomic timings. We can present a dish with spectacular effects but then we leave the room. The diner doesn’t need to look at anything, it’s a much more immersive show,» he adds. Each one of the different plates corresponds to a different setting on this ‘unique multi-sensory journey’, as described by Ibizan model and actress Ana Vide, who has worked at this exclusive restaurant for four seasons as the master of ceremonies. «Although the staging is repeated throughout the season, every night is different,» the guide of this «multi-sensory journey» tells me. «It’s like climbing inside a time capsule where anything is possible,» she adds.
How did the idea come about? «Paco and I met in 2010 at an event. I have a communications and events company (Vega Factory) and we were in charge of the production of the event. That’s where I met the chef, who already had a workshop in Madrid where he merged food with projections, etc. That’s where we discussed the possibility of producing a product that was a complete dining experience,» says Gonzales. After a couple of years fine-tuning the concept, Roncero and Gonzales presented their proposal to the Palladium Hotel Group, who «didn’t hesitate in running with the idea.»
«Over the years we have been refining it even more. At first it was hard to get people to try it. Nobody knew the restaurant and they weren’t used to this new type of concept,» he explains, adding that «six years later, apart from being full almost every night,» he considers that they are experiencing «the best Sublimotion season of all.»
Some of the world’s most prestigious chefs, such as Spanish chef Elena Arzak, Peruvian Pía León, the Slovenian cook Ana Roš, and from Singapore, pastry chef Janice Wong, have all joined the culinary team this season, and are responsible for «adding a new twist to this avant-garde, interactive gastronomic performance.»
Sublimotion ‘off the record’ «There is a multi-disciplinary team responsible for the staging,» says the producer. Architects, designers, engineers, video operators, the illusionist Jorge Blass, the fashion designer Roberto Diz, the composer Lucas Vidal, as well as chefs, cooks, waiting staff and performers or, as Gonzales puts it, the ‘live’ workers, –»as every day they excel themselves at creating a unique experience for the guests,» – the planning behind Sublimotion’s gastronomical extravaganza is immense. «It’s impossible to explain the format unless the guest actually sits in a chair and experiences it first hand,» says Gonzales, who points out that one of the most useful elements in the restaurant are the wheels on the dining chairs. «That way they are free to move around the room,» he says.
Another key factor is the technology. «The restaurant has a technical desk, similar to those used at a rock concert, but just for one single dining table» the co-owner says ironically. As soon as they enter the dining room, the guests enter a world full of possibilities. There are floor-to-ceiling surround screens measuring 30 linear metres by four metres high, making any situation come to life.
Apart from the screens, there are LED lighting effects, fans, bubbles, smoke, black lights, dinner plates that descend from the ceiling… «Every scenario offers a new possibility to eat differently,» says Gonzales, who stresses that creativity knows no boundaries in this restaurant. They have even managed to stage a dish as if the diners were eating inside a video game, thanks to the virtual reality goggles that «scan their hands and the room in real time and allow them to perceive reality like a video game,» and even «eat a snack in the form of pixels.»
Special gadgetry incorporated into the tables can shake the cocktails without touching them, and simulate the dinner setting of an Orient Express dining car, anything is possible at this restaurant without limits.